Now the Curmudgeonly Professor tackles a topic he is ill equipped to deal with since curmudgeonly professors, by definition, are junk collectors and messy people. However, he has had several phone conversations and emails from folks who read my earlier treatise on whether messy people are more successful than neat people, or vice versa, and feels compelled to offer some positive advice and encouragement to messy junk collectors. Here are the rules:
1. Buy a shredder. Just running a shredder for a couple of days and filling up plastic bags full of shredded papers will keep you entertained and provide some variety to your usual wasted days.
2. Throw out old apple cores, empty soda pop cans, stale sandwiches, non-functioning ball point pens, spent ink cartridges, and other relics.
3. Buy a book on decluttering. Read the first ten pages before you put it on your bookshelf and take a nap.
4. Try the "Three-item" rule. According to this rule, take care of three items from any pile of your clutter when you enter an uninhabitable room. If you go in and out of your room a number of times, and if you faithfully adhere to this rule, you can reduce your clutter by dozens of items in a day. But don't take time to read and entertain yourself with your old clutter. And simply moving your clutter items to another pile doesn't count.
5. Try the five-minute rule. Several times during the day, time yourself and spend five minutes at a whack cleaning up junk, throwing out clutter, and spraying Fabreze to freshen up your environment.
6. Pay bills buried in your clutter before the collection agency calls or your interest rate gets bumped to 45 percent.
7. Only answer letters from those who haven't passed on during your lengthy period of slovenliness and inattention.
8. Never allow someone else to clean your clutter up for you or you will be doomed and never find anything. Yesterday's Matlock episode was a fine example of this problem. Matlock hired a woman to keep house for him and she filed his stuff where he couldn't find it, thus irritating counselor Matlock to the nth degree.
9. Don't get so attached to your junk that you can't thin it out without traumatizing yourself. Remember the old rule, which applies to romance as well as clutter: "Out of sight, out of mind." After all you haven't paid any attention to whatever it is for weeks, or months, or years, so why do you think you would shed tears over it if you noticed it was gone six months from now?
If you really think it necessary, you could buy a book on overcoming bad habits and decluttering, but you're a mature and responsible person and, with the above pointers, we can all look forward to neater and more efficient spaces. You could have decluttered yourself in the time it took you to buy and read a book, which most people won't pay any attention to anyway. The Curmudgeonly Professor has saved you time and money and pointed the route to a happier, clutter-free life. I just don't want to know how fast you mess everything up again with a new round of clutter since, as we all know, the fundamental nature of messy people is that once messy, always messy. It's just the way we are. So help us.