It’s a bit of an epidemic over here. Does anyone else feel like clutter is the glitter of adult life?
As an acting minimalist of two years, I still have not managed to cut down on clutter. To be fair, my minimalism has been flawed. It’s been riddled with retail therapy, indecision about what is truly important, what I truly like, and what I truly need. It’s a big reason I don’t talk about it too much. I’ve spent a lot of time feel like I’m not a real minimalist because of all my ups and downs.
But clutter is real. It’s a daily struggle in our home. It was a big reason we adopted the minimalist way in the first place. Though, we’ve never actually been too diligent about staying on top of it.
You can purge the big stuff all day long, but if you’re not focusing on the little things coming into your home, you won’t be able to effectively handle the build up of stuff.
Big items may take up space, but clutter takes up time.
It’s driving me crazy and making me feel that constant nag of having something to do while also making me feel like there’s no point because clutter is “just a part of life.”
So I had to figured something out. I can’t let clutter win. I have to find a way to manage it. I need it to be a longterm solution, not a quick fix purge.
HOW I’M HANDING MY CLUTTER
As I walk through my home and imagine what my counters would look like if I have no clutter, I see that it’s more peaceful. I can see that my mind feels calmer and my house looks nicer which makes me feel better. More recently, I’ve been seeing how I can actually achieve this dream of a clutter free home.
I do believe clutter is inevitable and that’s why I believe it’s time to accept that there is no real fix to clutter. It has to be a constant effort, but I can’t let it take over my life. I needed to find solutions that were realistic and simple. I needed to accept that I will always be working on clutter, but maybe I can make that work easier and more effective than it is right now.
GET A CLUTTER CATCHER | The epitome of clutter is crap thrown somewhere it doesn’t belong. It’s an inevitable part of life unless you’re perfect. So rather than throw crap on my counter, in the closet, behind a chair, under the bed, what-have-you, I’m going to throw it in a container instead.
The key to a good clutter catcher is that the container itself should be beautiful. It should be something where you won’t be able to see the clutter, but also something that looks nice in plain view so it doesn’t go forgotten.
This is also not to be a space where clutter lives but rather visits for x amount of time (maybe a week, maybe until it’s full) until your clutter container audit day. On this day, go through the box and either find a permanent home for the clutter or get rid of it.
This is a good way to avoid letting clutter build up for too long and to not have to look at it while you’re going about your day. Your house can finally be tidy again!
WHAT DOESN’T HAVE A HOME MUST GO | I’ve noticed that clutter happens when I don’t know what to do with something.
I have mail that I’m not going to get to yet so it clutters up the counter.
I have toys that don’t have a specific place so they clutter up the shelves.
I have miscellaneous items that are haphazardly thrown into closets because I just can’t figure out where to put them.
This is clutter. This is how it happens. Either I have things I know I want or need, but just haven’t found a home for or I have stuff I don’t even realize exists that I through in with everything else to deal with later.
So all of the stuff that has no home needs to be placed into two piles: the keep pile and toss (or donate) pile. No maybes. Just Yes and No.
I’ve needed to evaluate why I’m holding onto things and whether or not they are truly needed. Does it have no home because deep down I don’t really need or want it? Or is it simply that, even though I like it, I haven’t been able to find an ideal home yet?
Either way, in order to avoid clutter, everything needs a home. So whether I need to create a mail catcher, find a place to hang up my camera, create a more stationary location for my computer, I’ve had to make sure that the important things have a forever home. More importantly, I’ve had to evaluate whether or not some of these items are even deserving of a home within my home at all.
KEEP UP THROUGHOUT THE DAY | This does not sound fun, but boy is it effective. Cleaning up, even minimally throughout the day keeps your home feeling refreshed and clutter free.
I have started cleaning up after every meal. I make sure things are put away (properly in their place). It’s a quick little tidy, not a huge deep clean. But putting even just 10 - 30 minutes into a little declutter here and there really makes all the difference.
I like to start by getting dishes done, moving to counters, and then to living spaces. I also try to make sure I don’t go to bed with clutter around the house so I can start my day simply with a cup of coffee and no cleaning at all.
It brings a lot more peace being able to time block things that way. It’s a nice moment for movement and a break from whatever I was previously focused on which is another added bonus to the whole thing.
PUT THINGS WHERE THEY ARE MOST USED | When something is too inconvenient to put away, it turns into clutter. For me it was clothes on the bathroom floor. My closet is too far away to motivate me to put my clothes away. Since I mostly get dressed in the bathroom, I’d put clothes in a nice little pile in the bathroom saying “I’ll get to it later” but later would never come and then the neat pile turned into a dirty pile of clean clothes that would get over washed because that’s easier than putting them away.
So I moved my clothes’ home. They are now living in the bathroom and they are getting put away consistently. Simply moving my clothes to the place they were taken on and off most made it so they were actually being put away.
We also moved y son’s toys to the living room. He would always bring them from his room into the living room and then he’d go to bed and we’d be stuck with toys that had no home in the living room. Now that they’re in the living room, they can be put away neatly forever and always.
The places things are used most in your home may not look the same as everyone else. I think the idea of conventional storage gets in our way of organizing in a way that works for us. It may take some creativity, but putting things where they are most used by you and your family will make it so much easier to actually put things where they belong when you’re done using it.
THINK BEFORE YOU BUY | If you didn’t know, I love to shop. I am an emotional person and I tend to daydream about how specific items will “improve” my life. I see something at the store that I didn’t realize existed until that moment and all of a sudden I HAVE to have it.
So then I wind up wasting money and space on things that I never really needed (or wanted) to begin with. It creates work and effort that I didn't need to have.
So I’m trying to be mindful of what I’m bringing into my home in the first place. I like to keep a list of things I truly need and only buy those things when I really need them. I have a running list of things that need to be upgraded and holes within my home that need to be filled. Anything that is not on that list does not come into my home. Otherwise, I know I’m contributing to my own clutter problems and that really just won’t do.
BE DILIGENT | The biggest thing about clutter maintenance is that it takes effort. It takes time to really stay on top of it. There is always going to be clutter. That won’t ever go away. But, if you’re diligent, you may find yourself less overwhelmed.
It may seem like a fruitless endeavor, trying to keep your home clutter free, but just like making your bed and putting on clothes in the morning, there are some tasks that need to be accepted as part of your life. There are some things that need to be on your daily to-dos.
Maybe on this journey to staying on top of clutter I’ll eventually find myself truly free of clutter in my home, but for now I know it’s going to be a daily effort of maintenance in order to truly feel like there is peace in my home.
I don’t think clutter needs to take over your life, but it’s going to be there one way or another. We have the choice to either let it go and be in our lives as a negative build up of things needing to be done OR to take control and prevent it from taking over our lives and our homes.