Ready to set your house in order for good? Surprisingly the hardest part happens long before you actually throw anything out. Getting rid of clutter is much more in your mind than in your garage (or wherever stuff accumulates in your house). Here’s the psychology behind clutter that will help you get organized and make it stick.
Finding a Home
When clutter piles up, it’s not always because you have too much stuff. It’s not even because the people in your house are lazy and don’t want to put it away. Usually it’s deeper than that. Most often, it’s because the stuff doesn’t have a home or its home is difficult to get to.
Homeless items need a place to live at the point-of-use. You wouldn’t keep the toaster in the bedroom—you’d either never use it or you’d never put it away. Same goes for homeless clutter. Find a place for them and make it a place that makes sense to your way of thinking and functioning.
Contemplating at the Door
Before you enter your home with a new item, stop to think. That lamp may have been a steal, but do you have a place for it? Swag is great, but are you really going to use it and enjoy it? A new book is exciting for a few days but once the happily ever after is done where will that book live?
If you answered no, or I don’t know to any of those questions, you’ve set yourself up for more clutter. If the lamp really has to come home with you, the old lamp has to go. If that free t-shirt you snagged at the baseball game will make you smile all year, find a space for it in the drawer. And next time, instead of buying a book, try a library—both you and the book will get your happily ever after.
It isn’t that nobody wants to fold the laundry or unload the dishwasher, it’s what comes after that. If it’s difficult to put away the socks or you have to unstack then re-stack the Tupperware to put away a mid-sized container, that’s when the dishes pile up in the sink or the clothes sit wrinkling in the dryer.
Many times the clutter is not the actual problem and neither are lazy people. Dig a little deeper. Observe a little closer. Truly understand the problem if you want to find a real solution.
Starting Out Right
Getting organized doesn’t start with buying storage containers. That’s just an invitation to put stuff in a box and throw it in the garage, which is really just more clutter but in a pretty box. Rearranging is not necessarily de-cluttering.
Only get storage containers and other organization paraphernalia if you find that you need them, aka, it helps to contain stuff in order to help it find a home. A drawer full of pell-mell kitchen implements is clutter, but some drawer dividers to separate spoons, spatulas, and such could be just the thing to make it useful. Start with a plan and you’ll get infinitely farther.
Committing to Maintenance
One of the secrets to de-cluttering is breaking it down into small pieces. We don’t mean taking a month to clean out the junk drawer—we mean after you’re organized taking a little time each day to keep it that way.
Don’t throw the mail on the desk, go through it now and put away what you need and get rid of the rest. Take an extra moment to put an item back in its “home” to stop clutter before it starts.