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Clutter is getting on my nerves. Seriously. Some days I think I could literally scream.
And then I go fix a cup of tea and hop on Facebook, or flip through a cookbook, or check my email, or something…anything to avoid facing the cold hard facts that the mess and piles need dealt with.
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
I tell myself I’ll get to it “later”, and I actually believe it. I actually think that after I sit down for five minutes (which usually turns into fifty minutes – who am I kidding?!?), I’ll feel like sorting through the mail pile that’s taller than a small child, or cleaning off the kitchen table that hasn’t seen the light of day for three weeks, or weeding out the clothes that should have been taken care of when they were still in season.
And that’s really how it all starts and keeps right on piling up.
Just a little bit of clutter….a single decision to “take care of this after while”….an itty bitty thought of how we might possibly kind of sort of need this someday….and suddenly we have more piles of I’ll-get-to-it-later than we know what to do with.
Then, we get so used to walking around it or avoiding looking at it that we almost don’t even know it’s there. And we start giving our clutter pet names like “The-Mail-Pile-I’m-Going-to-Take-Care-of-This-Weekend,” or “That-Stuff-I-Might-Need-For-Fixing-Something-One-Day,” or “The-Craft-Supplies-I’m-Actually-Going-to-Use-This-Time.”
Ahhhh….doesn’t it all sound so cute once we give it a name?
But maybe we should call it what it is. Perhaps we should say, “The-Mail-Pile-I-Keep-Avoiding-Because-I-Don’t-Want-To-Deal-With-It,” or “The-Stuff-I-Think-I-Might-Need-But-Won’t-Be-Able-to-Find-Because-of-the-Mess,” or “The-Craft-Supplies-I’ll-Never-Use-and-Feel-Guilty-for-Wasting-Money-On.”
Of course, it doesn’t matter if we name it, or walk around it, or promise to take care of it later, it’s still clutter. And in order for us to get rid of clutter, we need to be able to see it, which is sort of hard when we’re so used to ignoring it.
We need to understand what qualifies as clutter in order to take action to kick it out. So, how can we recognize clutter when it’s staring us in the face, especially since one person’s clutter is another person’s “carefully-placed-pile-of-treasured-possessions”?
Here are some basic criteria for recognizing clutter:
It makes you cringe…
The sewing project you abandoned four years ago. The jumbled pile of receipts that makes you feel guilty. The clothes in the hall that drive you insane.
Anything that gives you a knot in your stomach needs taken care of now.
It hides important things…
The newspapers that hid the permission slip you forgot to sign. The mail that’s concealing some almost-late bills. The worn-out socks that force you to go on a sock hunt every morning.
If the junk keeps you from finding the things you really need, then the junk needs dealt with.
It isn’t something you like, wear, or use…
The deodorant nobody wants because it doesn’t work. The scarf you paid good money for but looks sort of ugly to you now. The small kitchen appliance that’s way too hard to clean.
Having things you’re not going to use only makes it harder to find the things you really want to use.
It insults you…
The used-to-be favorite teacup with the broken handle because you dropped it in the sink. The four pairs of pants that no longer fit. The gift that reminds you of a hurtful relationship.
Things that make you feel like a failure or dredge up painful memories shouldn’t have a place in your home.
It causes you to procrastinate…
The dried out paints you have to sort through so you can finally complete that craft project. The clothes you have to try on before dropping off the dry cleaning. The magazines you should put in the recycle bin so you can dust the end tables.
If it makes you use words like “later” or “someday” or “when I get around to it,” it most likely is holding you back and needs addressed soon.
It inconveniences you…
The toys and games you have to step over to get through the room. The the papers you have to work around to use the desk. The stale food in the pantry that makes it impossible for the kids to find a snack.
All those things that make you go out of your way or keep you from accomplishing tasks easily are hindering your ability to be an efficient home manager.
So now what?
Clutter can be things that need given away or thrown away. It also can be things that need put away, filed away, or otherwise dealt with.
Whatever the case, once we finally recognize it for what it is, we can do something about it. Add “deal with clutter for fifteen minutes” to your Morning Routine, and discover how good it feels to stop ignoring it start eliminating it.