When you’ve decided to start clearing clutter, you will eventually need to ask yourself, “Where did it come from? How did it accumulate?” If not, it’ll just collect all over again. This also helps us to decide what types of organizing systems to put in place to ward off future clutter.
Let’s also remember that keeping organized is an ongoing process. We can’t organize our home in one weekend and expect things to stay that way forever. Just as with pulling weeds from the garden, they always come back. So we must maintain our gardens and continue clearing clutter in our homes regularly.
Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of little things around the house that need to be taken care of. They are not big things, which is probably why they’re simply put off until another time. But when all of these little things add up, they turn into one disorganized home.
I don’t like walking around a home filled with too much clutter. (We all have our tolerance levels.) One, it just doesn’t feel “nice”. I love walking into a hotel room or a nice home for sale and get that nice orderly feeling. Of course, I don’t live in a hotel or a model home, so I expect there to be some chaos in my family of four with two kids, but there should also be a little more order than there seems to be sometimes. I’d like to be able to walk a straight line and not have to weave around toys!
Secondly, seeing all these little things that need to be tended to are quite distracting and annoying. “Ugh, I should really do that”, and “this really needs to be taken care of”, etc. Our “to do” lists will never end. They will continue to fill up with new things to do. But it would be nice to handle the daily to do’s in a home that isn’t overly distracting with clutter or disorganization.
So, where did this clutter come from? Here are the three main reasons I’ve come up with:
1) Not Putting Things Away. I’ve noticed that most of the stuff lying around cluttering up every room in the house are things that simply didn’t get put away. Things like clothing, shoes, jackets, papers, toys, toiletries, tools, etc. You name it, if it isn’t put away, it’s messing up the house. The simple act of going around the house and putting everything away would make a significant dent in clearing clutter and cleaning up, making the house feel organized again.
Why don’t we just put things away in the first place? Well, perhaps we were just being lazy, we were tired or sick, or really busy. One big reason I noticed recently is a break in routines. Something happened and the normal routine went out the window for a couple days, and chaos took over. And then I was tired dealing with the chaos and simply didn’t feel like picking stuff up. And in my case, I’m still working with getting the kids to pick up after themselves.
2) No Home for Things. “I don’t know where it goes.” That’s one of my daughter’s favorite excuses for not cleaning up after herself. But she certainly has a point. If something doesn’t have a home, it’ll likely float around until you give it one. Every day new things come into our homes from the groceries to the mail to the latest pair of shoes, toys or gadgets we bought. And they all need a place to call their own to be put away in when they’re not being used. There are some things in my house that need a home. Some are newer things, others are things that lost their home while making changes in our living space. Once those items get a home and get put away, along with all the other stuff that didn’t get put away from #1, I imagine the house will look pretty darned tidy.
3) Too much stuff. You’ve done the first two steps and you still have stuff that you can’t find a home for, or things are still just too cluttered. Then you have to consider that you have too much stuff. When clearing clutter, you need to consider your space. You can only put so many books on the allotted book shelf, or so many clothes in the closet, or so many things in a house of a certain size. It’s a matter of space. Therefore, what’s left over that you don’t have room for must go. Yes, more decluttering. This is where you can decide what you want to keep and what you want to part with, but you need to keep in mind how much space you have and what’s realistic to keep.
If your home has a significant amount of clutter, you may need to start with a serious decluttering of various rooms or parts of your home until it is more manageable. Go here for more detailed decluttering instructions.
If you’re trying to maintain your mostly decluttered house, try the following. To start clearing clutter, take some time to walk around your home and take care of the first two categories of things listed above (putting things away and giving items a home). You’ll be off to a great start. Try to just put things away as you notice them, instead of “later”, and start to get things back into order again. (You know “later” never seems to come, right?)
Also, be an example for the rest of your household by putting your things away when you’re done with them.
Once you get things in a little better order, you can set aside some time to declutter that excess stuff that you simply don’t want, need, or have room for.
Clearing clutter should be a little easier now, knowing that much of it is a matter of the simple habit of cleaning up after yourself!