Ah, I feel your pain, JDebler. I have a low threshold for most clutter, but I do have a weakness for books or magazines. I’ve managed to minimize the problem by checking them out of the library when possible. If the library doesn’t have an item, then I will buy it, but I now force myself to cull at least one item from my current shelf to compensate. I never re-read books, so this isn’t as hard for me as it might be for some. Professional journals can be a little trickier because I feel an obligation to read those for my job, but I’ve realized that almost any article I need can be looked up on the Internet. That simple fact has made it way easier for me to toss the ones I don't plan to read immediately.
Personally, I try not to get hung up on selling stuff because I know myself too well and I know that it would probably take me ages to get rid of it. I may be tossing away money, but honestly, when I look at a pile of clutter, I ask myself, “How much would I be willing to pay someone to make this go away?” Generally, my lazy, instant-self-gratifying self will respond with an amount between $10 - $20 depending on the size of the pile. If the pile is worth less than that (and it always is) then it has to go that day. Of course, this kind of brutal decision-making has to be balanced out by really making sure I need something before I bring it in the house.
I’m glad that someone mentioned Freecycle. It is amazing what you can get rid of on there – I’ve seen offers of left-over yarn and broken appliances get snapped up in minutes. I, myself, was able to get rid of a huge wall unit on Freecycle when I couldn’t get any of the charities to pick it up. I must’ve gotten fifty e-mails within 30 minutes of posting the offer.
You may already know this tip, but one thing that’s helped some people stay on top of clutter is to use a timer. Set it for fifteen minutes (they say you can do almost anything for fifteen minutes) and give yourself permission to stop guilt-free once the buzzer goes off. Most of the time, you’ll find that you’ve hit your stride by then and that you want to continue. I actually use this to get myself started on writing reports and other work-related stuff I don’t love.
Another tip I've learned is to periodically set a goal of throwing out a certain number of items. Pick up a shopping bag, set your timer, and start wandering around looking for stuff to toss. Concentrate on those spots where clutter tends to build. My hot spots are my desk and one corner of the kitchen counter. I can almost always find stuff to get rid of -- extra pens, rubber bands, old to-do lists. All very satisfying to trash!
And this may seem crazy, but I'll also occasionally watch shows on cleaning to get myself inspired. The following youtube posters have a great selection of shows on cleaning and hoarding.http://www.youtube.com/user/RIPLeuchtenberghttp://www.youtube.com/user/OtherLiveshttp://www.youtube.com/user/easykeytolife
RIP has a lot of How Clean is Your House episodes which are fun to watch. If you're interested in a more serious look at hoarding and OCD, I would recommend OtherLives’ channel. Especially the documentaries Possessed
(what a great description – it’s so true that clutter owns you and not the other way around) and Hoarders
. Oh, and http://www.squalorsurvivors.com/
is also worth a look. Kimmy's picture show is especially shocking.