Will Ferrell: Organizing Hero?

When you think of Will Ferrell, what springs to mind? Maybe it’s his hilarious portrayal of newsman Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, or his dead-on impression of former president George W. Bush or his comical yet vulnerable character Buddy in Elf.

But what about this one: Will Ferrell as an organization guru?

That’s right. In Everything Must Go, out May 13, Ferrell plays a down-on-luck salesman who gets fired and then finds out his wife has left him, changed the locks on their home, and dumped all of his belongings on their front lawn. In response, Ferrell decides to live on the lawn and sell off his stuff—including a beaten-up recliner, old sports trophies, and records—in a continuous yard sale.

Okay, so it’s a tad extreme. Let’s face it: Most of us are thoughtful about the way we organize. We neatly label our boxes, create color-coded folders, and agonize over the decision to keep, donate, sell, or toss our stuff. And that’s probably the right way to go about it. After all, just dumping everything isn’t really facing the problem, right? It’s the easy way out.

But—here’s my confession—I did it once.

It was a few days before a big move. I barely had any boxes left—and even less patience. One night, after spending about 14 hours alone in my hot, stuffy apartment, trying to navigate what seemed like insurmountable mountains of clothes, dishes, and boxes, I simply lost it. Lost. It. I blindly grabbed great armfuls of stuff, unloaded them in garbage bags, dragged them down three flights of stairs, and left them—four bags in all—on the curb.

I admit, I felt great relief in the moment. Problem solved! But it wasn’t long, post-move, before shame crept in. How could I simply toss all of that stuff instead of donating it? What a waste! And the Big Dump was its own form of crazy disorganization. I didn’t even know what I’d thrown away. To this day, I look for a certain blouse or a favorite teacup, and then realize it must have been lost on that nutty night. (Not to mention, my sister recently asked me whatever happened to some books she lent me—oops.)

Did the Big Dump make my life simpler? Maybe in the moment, but not in the long run. Eventually, I just bought more stuff.

What about you? What’s the most extreme thing you have ever done to declutter? And—be honest—have you ever wanted to dump your husband’s stuff on the lawn too?