Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Clutter-Free Week #2: My 10 Rules for Decluttering

Having spent the last few hours hyperventilating into a paper bag and rocking back and forth in an anxious fit, I've managed to come to terms with the fact that I've committed to this challenge and I am about to clean up my act.

Okay. That's a bit of a stretch. I wasn't really in such a desperate state. Instead, I chose to ignore it all and go watch Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. (Good movie, by the way)

I'm home now, flipping through my blogroll and it's reminding me of the looming task set before me. Thanks a lot, Jodie.

"Compose a list of 'non-negotiable must-purge' rules"
After a great deal of thought, here's what I got:

Twist of Liam's 10 Rules for Decluttering
It's gotta "go" if:
It isn't actually mine/signed out by me.
This one's the easiest one. It's pretty obvious when you own something. And most people generally have a good idea if they are supposed to have something of someone else's. If they're neither, they're out.

It's in embarassing shape.
You know what I'm talking about. Those ratty old things that have seen better days and should have been thrown out years ago. The things that you make sure are out of sight when visitors are expected and direct attention away from when they show up without notice. Simply put: Broken, battered, bruised, beyond repair - buh-bye!

It's been in a cupboard/box/shelf for a year and not used.
I've been teaching for two years; this will be my third. That being said, there are things on my shelves that I had every intention of using but haven't. If it hasn't been used yet, chances are I won't use it this year. Like a basketball coach, you want everyone to win but it starts with having a lot of difficult talks that go something like this: "Sorry kiddo. You've got real potential but I just don't have a place on the team where you can really show your talents. Miss Elsewhere is starting soccer tryouts this week though. You should give it a go." You wish them well and suggest they go practice their corner kick... with Miss Elsewhere.

I can find it online/in an easliy accessible resource.
I like convenience. I like knowing that if i need something, I can pull it out of the cupboard at a moment's notice. I know there are items on those shelves purely for the purpose of saving me a from trotting or surfing to find it where it is meant to be found. Get over it and put more steps (or clicks) in your day!

The only reason I have it in my room is so I don't have to go next door/to the resource room and borrow it.
Practically the same as the rule above but regarding tools/stationary. I know nobody likes a teacher that borrows EVERYTHING from you and nobody wants to be "that guy/girl" but we don't all need a phillips screwdriver in our drawer. We don't all need a paper guillotine. I have the set of scredrivers and a few screws (loose?). Karen knows she can pop in if she needs them. I know I can borrow the paper cutter from Karen. They say don't reninvent the wheel but we don't all have to go out and buy one each either.

It doesn't belong in a toolbox/pencilcase/desk/backpack.
If if doesn't go in either of these conventional storage devices, I probably don't need it. I know that science materials are an obvious challenge to this one but I don't teach science, ergo I shouldn't have it in my room. If I do find myself needing a set of testtubes or a bunsen burner, I know where I can find one thanks to Rule {5}. And on that note, if I do borrow a bunsen burner, I then follow Rule {1} and return it to where it belongs.

The only box label that is really appropriate is "Stuff".
After all of this, I should be thinning out the clutter in my room and I should be down to the proverbial "odds and ends" of teaching. The rubberband ball, the lock and key that isn't securing anything, and these sorts of things. I think decluttering and having a box marked "Misc." is like swearing off of coffee unless it's lunchtime. It's probably going to fail Rule {8}, anyways.

I don't have an actual plan for it's use.
Remember my pegboard question? I do. I inherited this great piece of pegboard that I knew had a purpose so I kept it...and kept it...and kept it. Nearly a year later and it has been standing in a corner like a British guard. Doing nothing (no offence to any British guards who are reading this), not even looking pretty (again, no offence), just there. Well, "no more" I say! If I don't know what I'm going to do with it, I do know: get rid of it. Sorry to British guards and pegboards everywhere.

It's not appropriate for the ages I'm teaching.
I have some things that I have collected and acquired because I know to expect teaching kids at different levels. These are the kinds of things that I know will make my life so much easier if when I get a Grade 2 class. Until that day, however, those things have no purpose in my classroom. Plain and simple: If it's not for these students, it's not for this classroom. It's almost peotic.

I'm keeping it because it was a gift from a student.
I'm really sorry, James. I enjoyed teaching you but I'm not keeping this snowglobe on my desk. I know, sentimental thingamajiggies are sweet and thoughtful. They remind us of the kids we connected with and inspired. They collect dust. They take up space. They serve no purpose. Too harsh? Maybe. But If I'm sitting at my desk after school, I probably have something better to do than stare at a World's Best Teacher card from Sally and reminisce. If not, I should go home and take a well-deserved break.

There you have it. Twist of Liam's 10 Rules for Decluttering. I hope they help you come up with your own. I would love to hear what you think of these and if you want to some of them for your own endeavours be my guest. My only request is you cite your source and link back to this post so others can do the same!


  1. OMG, these are wonderful. I was so clueless as to what I would write, but you have inspired me. I will have to put mine down later tonight.

    Ms. M
    Ms.M's Blog
    A Teacher's Plan

  2. Awesome, Ms.M! Glad I could help!
    ✪ Liam ✪

  3. Great Job Liam! And this cracked me up..."But If I'm sitting at my desk after school, I probably have something better to do than stare at a World's Best Teacher card from Sally in and reminisce. If not, I should go home and take a well-deserved break." Speaking of which, aren't you on vacation?

    ❤Jodi from...
    ★★The Clutter-Free Classroom★★
    Helping Teachers Get Organized

  4. These are too funny. I especially like the snow globe part. I actually don't have any snowglobes but one year there must have been a good deal on mini glass figurines at the school store because I have a boatload of them. They are actually now in my "regifting bag" because I think the collection will make a hilarious Yankee Swap gift.

  5. That snowglobe comment CRACKED ME UP!
    I like your list... I'm happy to follow YOUR steps--the only difference is that I've been looking at several "apple-inspired" gifts. I'll be more than happy to let those go!

    Happy de-cluttering!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  6. Great list!!! I just found your blog and am a new follower! BTW, what grade do you teach? Good luck!



  7. You have an amazing way with words and I am looking forward to following your adventures! Thanks for the great lists of de-cluttering rules and good luck.

    1. Thanks Des! I wish my high school English teacher could hear you now!
      ✪ Liam ✪
      Twist of Liam

  8. You made me laugh so hard over that snowglobe!! I think your rules are absolutely brilliant! What are you worried about, you'll get rid of a ton of stuff!!

  9. Thanks again Kristen. I look forward to letting everyone know how wonderfully productive I was in a couple days...assuming I am wonderfully productive on Tuesday. :S
    ✪ Liam ✪
    Twist of Liam

  10. Your post could be a great example of the use of "voice." Probably shouldn't show students those parts about their gifts though! :) Thanks for sharing your rules. I'm a little behind on getting into the "Project," but I'm sure your rules will help me come up with mine. Thanks again!

  11. Thanks so much for doing all the work, Liam! I'm jumping in late too and I'm going to use your list just as it is. :-) I love the voice in your writing too (as Des & Rachael said, above).
    Terri B in FL

  12. Super list!! I really enjoyed the information and will use it in my classroom. Glad I finally got around to reading it!!


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