Clutter has a way of sneaking into my house. It happens slowly like when the kids get a happy meal and they bring home the prize, or when they bring home weekly papers from school and the never-ending junk mail. Then, there’s the stuff we already have too. There is way too much stuff. I’m tired of all this stuff I’m ready to clear the clutter. What about you?
How Clutter Affects Us
Clutter affects us in a number of ways and sometimes we don’t even realize how we are being affected.
First, clutter can cause feelings of tension and stress. When things are always out of place, we can feel frustrated and tense (we might not even realize that clutter is causing these feelings). We lose items we need (like car keys) and can’t find them in the clutter, and we get stressed.
Second, we can feel overwhelmed by clutter. About a year ago, we planned to move, so I started packing up boxes and preparing to move. In the end, we didn’t move. Now, I have a room filled with packed boxes, but it’s worse. They are a mess because during the year we would need something that was packed so we would go open the boxes and now the once organized and neatly packed boxes are a mess too! Every time I go into the room to start emptying boxes, I look around and feel overwhelmed. I just don’t even know where to start.
Third, we often times just ignore the clutter, right? We don’t know what to do with it, we don’t have the time or energy to deal with it and we feel overwhelmed by it so we decide to just ignore it hoping it will go away, but it doesn’t. Many times it gets worse because we just keep adding to the clutter.
Why Do We Have Clutter
We don’t usually decide to have clutter right? It just slowly creeps into our homes until one day we start to wonder where did all this stuff come from and how did get here.
Sometimes, clutter is from our bad habits. We don’t put the folded laundry away, we leave books and papers on the counters and tables and clutter starts to take over. It’s our habits creating the clutter.
How to Clear the Clutter
Most likely, you will need time to clear all the clutter from your home (it’s probably not a one day job like painting your bathroom). Plan to take your time and recognize clearing the clutter is a process.
Make a Plan
One of the reasons clutter becomes overwhelming to us is that we don’t know where to start when it’s time to declutter. We need to make a plan.
A declutter plan can be simple like working on a different room or section of your house each day or week (depending on your time limits) or creating a detailed plan of every step you will take. For now, it’s probably enough to start breaking your home and clutter spots down into smaller spaces like the master bathroom, closets, kitchen, pantry, basement, and so on.
Now, that we are starting to break this project into small pieces it seems more manageable, right?
Focus on One Thing at a Time
It’s time to get started. If you prefer, start small. Choose a closet or bathroom. Getting one small room or space decluttered will give you a small win and you will feel less overwhelmed by the larger room and spaces to declutter.
What if one space has lots of clutter like a basement, storage room or closet? Then, put on our blinders to all the overwhelming clutter and focus on one thing at a time. When I work on emptying all the boxes in my storage room, I don’t think about, “Oh, I have so many boxes to empty and put back.” Instead, I focus on emptying just one box at a time and I get things done.
If you keep working on the task, little by little, you will get the job done. Think about ants. Every day they move little sand and dirt particles from one place to the next. Over time, they build a new home. Little by little and piece by piece they get the job done and so can you.
Create Piles for Keep, Trash and Donate
As you work through your clutter, you should be recognizing three types of clutter: misplaced items, trash, and items to donate. Some items need to be put back in the right place in your home (they were just tossed into the mess because someone did not correctly put them away), some items are broken or unusable and should be put in the trash, and finally a large number of items that you no longer use should be donated.
If you truly want to declutter, you need to focus on removing broken items and items you no longer need. If you have not used the item in many years, it’s okay to donate it.
When your piles are large enough, donate them to a local church or charity that can use them or throw them out. You will be better having less clutter in your home.
Slowly, as you keep working on the decluttering process, you will find your home is more and more clutter-free.
Change Your Thinking and Your Habits
Once you have removed all your clutter, it’s time to change your thinking and habits so you can stay clutter free. Here are a few ways to get started:
- When you come home each day, make it a habit to put shoes, jacket, and bags away.
- As you review the mail, trash anything you don’t need.
- Only keep special school papers and create an organization system to keep them organized.
- Donate clothes your kids have outgrown.
Start changing your mindset, too. Recognize things you are keeping “just in case you might need them” and realize it’s okay to remove them if you have not used them in a year or longer.
Don’t wait, start working on removing the clutter from your home today. You will be glad you did. Then, change your mindset and habits to ensure you don’t bring the clutter back and it’s gone for good.