Updated on 5/1/17 from an article originally published 11/27/2012.
A cluttered home makes us feel out of control, doesn’t it? You might start blaming yourself for not having your act together. You could start thinking something is wrong with you. Maybe you’re just a messy person. Maybe you’re lazy. Maybe you belong on a reality TV show.
But what if we are just normal people with a few legitimate reasons for the state of our home? Once we understand why the clutter occurs, the solutions might be easier to solve than we think.
Here are four reasons you might have a clutter problem and simple solutions to begin to overcome it.
Problem #1: You have too much stuff.
This might seem like the most obvious reason for clutter, but it is usually the one we have the most trouble with. We can’t find clothes to wear when our closet is overflowing so we buy new ones. We have to get new tools because our garage is so full, we can’t find our screwdrivers. We love finding great deals at yard sales so we store everything in our already crowded basement until we can find a place for it. We have emotional attachments to things and we don’t want to get rid of them. Too much stuff always creates more clutter.
Solution: Eliminate the excess.
While we might feel like the solution is to get containers to organize it all, it really makes more sense to do the obvious and more painful — eliminate the excess. You really can’t and shouldn’t organize an excess of clutter in your home. Make it a game to get rid of 10 things every day. If you are emotionally attached to things you don’t have room for, look for creative ways to preserve memories without keeping every single item on display.
Items to get rid of right now:
- Old magazines and newspapers
- Extra cooking utensils and small appliances you don’t use
- Old and expired toiletries like makeup, nail polish, and medicine
- Anything that is broken that you haven’t gotten around to repairing
- Excess bed linens beyond two pairs per bed
- Old technology like VHS tapes, DVDS, and CDs
Read Also: How Owning Less Can Make You Happier
Problem #2: You are in a transitional season.
Every time we have a change in routine, go through a stressful period of time, have a baby, lose or start a new job, experience a financial setback, move to another home, get sick, or have any other life-altering experience, clutter multiplies. We tend to let things pile up because we figure we will get organized once things “settle down.”
Solution: Start with small tasks.
Don’t wait for ideal circumstances. Life is a series of transitions; so find simple ways to get things in better order even in those crazy seasons. Focus on areas that frustrate you the most every day, like perhaps your dresser or closet. You can make today a little better by spending just a few minutes decluttering and organizing things you use every day.
How to remove clutter in less than five minutes:
- Do a walkthrough of your entire house with a box in hand, and place any item that is out of place inside it. Put items back where they belong as you continue through each room.
- Pick one small section and focus on decluttering just this area. This could be a bookshelf, junk drawer, or linen closet. Get rid of anything you no longer need or doesn’t belong there. Then organize the rest.
- Create a “donate” box. Scan your home for items you’d be willing to give to charity. The key here is to not replace these items with new ones because the idea is to get rid of clutter, not trade like for like.
Problem #3: You don’t have simple organizational systems.
One of the fastest ways for your home to become disorganized is you simply don’t know where to put things. And when you don’t know what to do with something, you set it down anywhere. And those areas become clutter magnets.
Solution: Identify the problem and address it.
Stop and take notice when you find yourself gravitating towards clutter spots with yet another pile of stuff. Why are you setting things there instead of putting them away? Maybe your bills pile up on the coffee table because you don’t have a bill paying or recycling system. Maybe your kids toss coats and papers on the kitchen table because they don’t have designated hooks or routines to deal with things they bring home from school. Once you can identify why the problem is occurring, set aside time to set up a new system to take care of it.
Simple organizational systems that make a big difference in clutter control:
- A designated spot for junk mail and your keys
- Hooks by the entryway for coats
- An organized pantry and fridge
- A laundry system that makes sense for your family
Read Also: 5 Ways You Can Improve Your Home Every Day
Problem #4: You are a perfectionist.
How could a perfectionist have clutter? Perfectionism paralyzes us. While we know we have clutter, we don’t feel equipped to deal with it perfectly so we do nothing. Maybe we don’t have the perfect organization system yet; we don’t have time to clean out the entire closet, or can’t decide what is most important to do first.
Solution: Learn to how to get through the rut.
Tell yourself it doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be better than it was. You may never have enough time to clean up or reorganize an entire room at once, but try spending 15 minutes a day tackling one small area like a counter or table top. It doesn’t matter which one you start with, just start with something and make it better than it was.
More ideas to get out of a clutter rut:
- Scan a room in your home and visualize how you want it to look. Making a mental note of furniture and decor you definitely want and clutter you don’t want ahead of time will help streamline the decluttering process. If your room is really out of hand, visualize one corner at a time.
- Create to-do lists. Start with tasks that are attainable in the moment. Setting realistic goals for yourself will help keep clutter at bay. You’ll also feel satisfaction every time you can cross a task off the list.
- Make sure everyone in the family is on board. There’s nothing that will take the wind out of your sails like when you spent all weekend decluttering your home to find it a disaster again the next day. A decluttered life is all about building daily habits for you and your family that will eliminate clutter for good.