Robert Wall of Cluttered to Clean

Friday, April 15, 2016

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite bloggers, Robert Wall.
Here is our interview below:

Please tell us a little about yourself.

"My name is Robert Wall, I’m rapidly approaching 40 years old, and I live in the southern part of Wisconsin. I’m a tech guy (I’ve been programming computers since just after I learned to read), and I’ve been blogging for half a dozen years or so, mostly on the topics of minimalism, simplicity, and decluttering."

What made you want to change your life to become more minimalist?

"Probably the thing that makes most people want to change. I looked around, and said “there’s too much stuff here”. At the risk of duplicating the story (told more completely here - and here -, I bought a decluttering book. Then I lost the decluttering book in the clutter. For two years. I found it, read it, and that got me started on the journey!"

How long have you been practicing this lifestyle? 

"Half a dozen years, maybe? I suppose it depends on how you define “the lifestyle”. There was a major shift eight or nine years ago or so, and things have been progressing since then. Like anything, it started slowly and then picked up steam from there."

Do you have any suggestions or advice for people who want to start your minimalist? 

"Let me tell you a story….

There’s a guy named Howard Moskowitz who was commissioned to find the “perfect amount of sweetness” for the Diet Pepsi soft drink line. And what he came up with was a bit revolutionary - there wasn’t a single “perfect amount”, but rather several “perfect amounts”, with clusters of people who preferred each. 

Minimalism is kind of like that. 

They’re all after the same type of thing, but what that thing looks like is different for each group - sometimes quite a bit different.

So you’ll see articles with titles like “which of the 5 types of minimalist are you?” They’ve gotten the “clusters” idea down.

But that’s when we realize that minimalism isn’t really like that all. 

See, with Diet Pepsi your choices are limited. They might come up with six clusters, and decide to produce three varieties. You get a choice, but your choice puts you into one of their pre-defined boxes.  
The spectrum of choices in minimalism is much wider, to the point of being nearly infinite.

And while I know it’s “safe” to find somebody else (either a person or a group!) and say “I want to be just like them”, that can have you falling into the same trap as consumerism - the chasing of somebody else’s priorities.

Rather than treating other minimalists as archetypes, treat them more like books full of ideas. Study them, learn from them, take what makes sense, and leave what doesn’t.

Ultimately, you need to figure out your own priorities and move toward them - whether or not anybody else has done it before, or even agrees with you.

The fact that you need to do some deep personal work means that minimalism is harder than just picking stuff up and putting it in boxes - but the rewards are also greater than just “an organized house”.

Any ending words?

"The biggest problem with transitioning into minimalism is the sheer overwhelm of it all. People start out with an apartment full of stuff, and they get the feeling that they’ll never get to “clean”, let alone “minimalist”!

That’s why I blog more about decluttering these days than I do about minimalism. Decluttering is one of the most “hands-on” aspects of minimalism, and it helps people quickly get “small victories” - which can motivate them to keep going.

If you’d like to talk about minimalism or ask me questions, you can find me at my blog-, or join my Facebook decluttering group (

I always love hearing from new people!"