There are many types of clutter (bulk clutter, aspirational clutter, gift clutter, trash, seasonal clutter, etc.), and I’ve already written about them, but all these types can be put in two simple categories.
2 basic types of clutter are everyday clutter and accumulated clutter. And if you put clutter that is bothering you in one of those two categories, you’ll know how to combat it. Whether you have a problem with the first type of clutter, or the second, or maybe with both, I will suggest a few steps to help you on your journey toward a simpler life and a more organized home.
The first category includes all the stuff you use regularly or semi-regularly that ends up around your home and drive you crazy until you have enough time to clean a little and put it where it belongs. It’s the clutter that is inevitable no matter how much you have already decluttered and simplified your life.
Shopping bags in all the rooms, cereal boxes, craft supplies you used yesterday, dongles and electronics laying around, empty cosmetic containers, junk mail, kids toys, etc.
It also includes dirty laundry and dishes that need to be washed.
If you struggle with this type of clutter, a few simple changes can help you keep it under control.
Step 1. Find a place for everything.
I mean every single thing that enters your home. Dedicate space for all the big, and small items, perishables, and reusables.
(If you struggle to find a place to put everything, it’s probably because of the other type of clutter we’ll talk about in a moment)
Step 2. Develop habits and routines that help you get things back to the places you dedicated for them. You must do it after each use, without procrastination – without excuses.
For example, after each use of chargers put them in the designated box. Have lots of kid’s toys around the house? Put them in the bin every night before bed. Junk mail and papers? Have a folder for that. Dirty clothes? Well, I think you know where.
Incorporating these 2 simple steps into your daily routine will make your life so much easier, less stressful, and calmer. And your home will be clean and tidy at all times.
The second category includes all the stuff in the closets, drawers, boxes, garages, attics, and basements that you want to forget about, but it’s still there. You’re not using it, and it just weighs you down.
It’s the china set you got from your aunt but never use. It’s clothing hanging in your closet you haven’t worn in years, kitchen utensils that clutter your drawers but you don’t even know what they’re for.
It’s also all the knick-knacks around the house that just collect dust, and don’t add any perceived value. Souvenirs from the trips, old photographs that have no sentimental value, artwork on the wall that is no longer your style, etc.
Basically, all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years that you don’t use, need, or love. Yet, it’s still there, hanging around.
Why is the second type of clutter worse than the first?
Because there is usually an emotional attachment to the things we keep around. Either we feel guilty for getting rid of something because it was expensive, or because it was a gift. Or because we bought it with the best intentions to use it, and now is just sitting there in a box or drawer. Or there is a memory attached to it, and now we’re afraid we’ll lose it if we get rid of the item. But remember, our memories were never in our things. They are in us.
Tricking ourselves into organizing it doesn’t solve the problem. Or even worse, tucking it somewhere out of sight, and trying to forget about it. Clutter is still clutter, even if you don’t see it. And what’s even worse, it weighs you subconsciously and creates mental clutter.
Accumulated clutter is the enemy of a clean and organized home and the enemy of a productive, focused mind.
The solution to tackle the accumulated clutter is actually really simple. Simple, but not easy.
Step 1. If you don’t need it, use it regularly, or love it, get rid of it.
Detach all the emotions from physical things, take a photo of the item if you need it, and gently let it go. Say thank you for all the good memories and years of usage and send it to someone who can use it better than you or if it’s trash recycle it or dispose of it properly.
When we get rid of clutter, everyday and accumulated, we can find freedom on the other side. The freedom we have forgotten even exists. After years and years of accumulation, we got so used to be anchored by all the stuff that the feeling of liberation is strange and uncomfortable at first.
But once the freedom state is achieved, the world of opportunities opens before our eyes.
Instead of spending money on a bigger home that can accommodate all the things we own, we can save that money for retirement, to work less, and eventually quit our jobs and start working on our passions.
Instead of working for our stuff, we can start living. Truly living.
The final decision is up to you. What do you choose? Anchors or freedom?
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