I can identify with collections vs clutter. My wife has a collection of a few thousand books. Once, I counted just her cook books…76, and those were just the ones in the kitchen where she could find them quickly in case of a cooking emergency. I’ve suggested we could use the shelve space for storing food, but you can guess at the comment I got on that one. I really enjoy Boomer Alley and enjoyed meeting you when you were videoing at Fly Lady Marla’s office in Brevard. I laugh every time I think of the fun time all of us had when you started the hilarious subject of “Mike the Chicken.”
[...] look at the world of the Baby Boomers.” Back in April, he made the poignant video “Collection or Clutter” that explores the question of whether the stuff you’re storing in your home is really [...]
As a professional organizer, I come across this issue of clutter vs. collection on an almost daily basis. I have to say that you did a great job of identifying the key attributes of an actual collection as something that has value and that you treat in a way that reflects the value and esteem in which you hold the items. If your “collection” is under piles of other so-called collections and is never used, shown-off, appreciated or even thought about except when the basement floods or the spouse complains, it’s clutter.
True collections can become overgrown, but there are organizing techniques own can use to show respect to the possessions and reap enjoyment. For example, museums have permanent collections as well as rotating ones; thus, certain items can be stored tidily while others, on a rotating basis, can be taken out, displayed for a limited period of time, and then replaced by other sub-sets of the collection. (If you don’t want to go to the effort storage, maintaining, dusting and displaying, then it’s not a collection, but Grade A clutter.)
Thanks for the great video–I’m sure I’ll be pointing to the link for years to come!
Great video! When I was a kid, I had loads of collections. My cousin used to say that if I had more than 3 of anything, I called it a collection. Seashells, tiny ceramic animals and Wacky Packs (maybe a precursor to pogs?)led to quilts, teapots and tins. Since becoming a professional organizer I’ve cleared out my collections, realizing that I don’t need to be surrounded by so much stuff. I encourage my clients to look seriously at their “collections” and decide what they truly can’t live without and what is just junk.
Great Video! I am a certified professional organizer and deal with "collections" all the time, especially with seniors. I love the plate and album collections you referenced on your video! Thanks I will share this with others.
I like to think that collections are in the eye of the beholder…..who ever came up with the idea of collecting?
A company with a extraordinary marketing guru; who convinced the public that what they are selling is a “must have” as the latest and greatest. Don’t lose out. Don’t be one of the last to get on the bandwagon. Get with it. Get hip. You need this, and more, to win friends and influence people.
Having said this, I do understand that there are some items of value that can be tastefully collected.
As an organizer it is a challenge to encourage our clients to let go of a group of stuff, particularly when they have so many items in the collection and have spent so much time and $$$$$ on this “project”. It is money already spent, that you have lived without, and what is the worst thing that could happen if you let it go?
Thanks for this really fun & useful intro to what distinguishes clutter from a collection.
I developed a class for The National Association of Professional Organizers on the subject of “Eliminating Excess” (PO-204). In it I offer a definition of a collection as a group of objects that is systematically ordered and meant to be viewed or studied.
By that measure, most of what people claim is a collection is really just a bunch of stuff. Then the question becomes, do you love it or use it? If it adds to your life and if you have the space and the ability to clean, insure, and care for it, then by all means keep it. If not, then it’s probably clutter, and we should consider letting it go.
I appreciated your treatment of the “manufactured collection”, those items that are sold as “collectible” like pogs and the cat plates. If the owner loves them, fine. But the sad fact is that they will never appreciate in value.
Then there is the sad side of those manufactured collections. My friend has a gazillion dollars worth of those leather-bound, gold-edged classic books and guides. She is loosing her home and has to sell everything. Her lovely, never opened books? Worthless. She asked me to help sell all her STUFF and I hated to show her the eBay values on these things. A big fat ZERO.
I always believed that stuff was just a marketing ploy to get $$$ from people who did not understand the reality of quality and value. I did not ever think I would find a friend who actually got caught in that trap. To be fair, she didn't. It was many years' worth of hated birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents from the ex (Pretty clear why he is an ex, huh?). But she has always believed they had value. It really hurt to learn her two large bookcases contained lovely but valueless junk.
Then there's my numerous and oh-so-valuable collections . . .