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Like most North Americans, I have a lot of stuff. Like most North Americans, most of my stuff is precious. However, some is unwanted, some is disorganised, and some comprises unfinished projects that haunt my psyche and stress the Fire Marshall.

For various reasons, I find that the degree of mental discipline required to independently deal with these collections is outside my natural abilities. Without outside help, the steady murmur of my clutter is not sufficient to goad me into action. I’m just that good at ignoring things!!

But I have wanted to deal with it. Further to that end, over the years I’ve tried to enveigle numerous of my junk-loving neighbours to do de-cluttering parties with me – I’d come to their place to help them, they’d come to my place to help me – but none of them took me up on the suggestion. I’m not sure why… if they were ashamed of their mess, or if they thought they would deal with it themselves, or if they just never planned on dealing with it!! Whatever the reason, I was never successful at getting the clutter buddy I so keenly desired.

Enter Craigslist. scrummy, yummy Craigslist!!! The magical place where junk lovers and junk leavers make beautiful music together.

I posted an ad asking for a de-clutter buddy – someone who was in a similar situation to me who would exchange time with me helping each other organise our messes. I got one reply, from the perfect person! She was in a very similar situation to me, and had also tried to get people she knew to go in with her on the project.

We’ve gotten together at least once a week for a while now, and it’s been going great! We help each other with things from going through boxes of mementos to fixing furniture; from finding good homes for rock collections to shredding old paperwork. Sometimes we both get our hands dirty working, other times the visiting helper is just there for moral support.

For most of human history over most of the world, ‘many hands make light work’ was not just an adage, it was an operating philosophy. Particularly in the day-to-day lives of homemakers (whether from Western or developing nations), collaborating on household chores – or even just gathering to keep company while working on individual projects – was a way to get through necessary, but sometimes tedious, work.

We’re lucky: in this era, in this part of the world, most of the necessary work is no longer tedious. But that doesn’t make the remainder any less of a chore! I think it we could tap some of the spirit of help and cooperation that was more common to previous generations, many of us could tackle unpleasant projects and have happier, more orderly home lives.

I don’t know if my clutter buddy wants to be named – she’s a journalist with lots of articles online – but if she doesn’t mind, I’ll write more on this topic in the future.

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