Clutter makes spaces look….well….cluttered. It creates a visual disturbance that unsettles some people, and can make an area look much more messy than it actually is.
But before you get stressed about the clutter you see in front of you, ask yourself a question – is this clutter in motion, or clutter in stasis?
“Clutter in motion” might not be moving right at this very moment, but it’s clutter that will be resolved at some point in the near future. When you cook, for example, you probably generate a bunch of dishes. And when you pay your bills, the odds are good you wind up with some papers on your desk. The fact that there are dirty dishes in the kitchen or papers on your desk isn’t an intractable clutter problem, because typically those dishes will get washed and those papers will get put away. The space is cluttered at the moment, but it’s nothing to worry about.
“Clutter in stasis” is the stuff you want to worry about. When you can’t cook anymore because the sink is full of dishes that haven’t been touched for a week or two, or your desk is permanently buried in the same stacks of papers, that’s clutter that’s not moving. It’s “in stasis”. And that usually signals some sort of problem.
Some common problems that turn “clutter in motion” into “clutter in stasis” include:
A lack of processing routines. Many families wash all the dishes in the evening, after dinner. And as long as they stick to that routine, the dishes won’t pile up. Even if there isn’t time for some reason one night to do the dishes, the routine exists and they’ll be taken care of the next day. But if there’s no routine habit of washing dishes, it’s anybody’s guess as to when they might get clean. If you have routine clutter overstaying its welcome, look into whether you could establish a routine to deal with it on a more regular basis.
A lack of physical support materials. Paperwork on desks goes nicely into filing cabinets or box files – assuming that you own filing cabinets or box files. But you can’t file paperwork if there’s no place to file it. Sometimes the solution to clutter isn’t less stuff – it’s more of the right stuff. If this is your situation, work through the exact physical items you’d need to support your desired goals. Then acquire those items.
A lack of “a home for stuff”. Many decluttering books give the simple advice, “pick up an item, and put it back where it goes”. That’s great advice, if everything has a defined “home” in your space. But many times, new items won’t have a home. For example, buying a new small kitchen appliance isn’t just about whether or not you’ll use it – it’s also about where you’ll store it. And if you don’t decide that before you go to put it away, it will either never get put away or it’ll get stuffed “wherever there’s room”. Both are sure recipes for “clutter in stasis”. Make sure all of your stuff has homes!
Keeping more than your space reasonably allows. Storage totes are great for organizing and storing things like holiday decorations and your off-season wardrobe. But when stuff just gets indiscriminately piled in totes, that’s not organization – that’s a pile of neat-looking clutter. If you can’t store it in a way that’s useful to you in your current life, in your current space, you may want to consider whether it’s worth holding onto at all. This is especially true if you have totes that you haven’t gone through in years. Pull them out, sort it out, and whenever possible, throw it out!
When it’s a clutter-related situation, junk removal companies don’t typically come in until that last phase – more stuff than you can fit in your space. But you can frequently avoid that call entirely by paying attention to the first few common problems. Make sure you have a plan to deal with your clutter. Make sure you have the resources to deal with your clutter. And make sure your stuff has a place it can go so that it doesn’t turn into clutter.
If you’re in the situation though where you have a bunch of piles of stuff that “just has to go”, it might be time to get some professional assistance. Fortunately, this isn’t a huge problem in the grand scope of life – it just requires some strong backs and a truck. And we have both. If you have clutter challenges, give us a call today for a fast, friendly, judgement-free quote. We can help you tame your clutter monster and get back on track to a clutter-free life!