True Change Today

Types of Clutter

Part One

Clutter. Clutter everywhere.


More often than not, the clutter in your home falls into a specific category. And once we identify what type of clutter we’re dealing with, we are able to better figure out what strategy to use to get rid of it.

There are 3 main types of clutter:

  • Physical clutter –  physical stuff we have in our homes stored in closets, piled up in drawers, countertops, and everywhere else
  • Emotional clutter – stuff we’re holding on in our hearts like failures, wins, past hurts, fun times, good and bad memories, etc. 
  • Digital clutter – stuff we don’t usually think of as clutter like bookmarks, digital photographs, emails, old movies, songs, excessive desktop icons, documents, etc.


Today, we will deal with physical clutter.  

noun: clutter

  • a collection of things lying about in an untidy state
  • an untidy state


Physical clutter comes in all different flavors – 12 to be exact. Some clutter needs to be eliminated from our lives, some donated, and some sold. Other can be kept, cleaned, organized, and stored. 


Here are 12 common types of physical clutter and tips on how to handle each specific type so you can simplify your home (and life) efficiently and effectively.

Type 1. Trash

The easiest to deal with and most common type of clutter is simply the trash that hangs out around your home making it look and feel cluttered. 

Things like:

  • Expired foods
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Junk mail
  • Old broken items/toys/electronic devices
  • Clothes with holes
  • Empty cosmetic/hygiene/food containers
  • Packaging and tags


How to deal with it?

Consider tossing out newspapers and magazines after reading them, or after a week (even if you didn’t read them). Make it a rule that they can stay in the home for X number of days, and throw them away after that period. Throw away items that are broken or clothes you know you won’t repair. Expired foods? Are you going to eat it?

Clear out any trash regularly so it doesn’t have a chance to build up and get out of control.

Type 2. Bargain Items You Don’t (Really) Need

You’re in front of a bookstore and there is an amazing deal. Each book for only $0.99. You grab 5 books and then never touch them again. Now they’re just cluttering your home and collecting dust. An amazing set of plates for only $20. You take them home and only use them once. 

A good deal or a bargain clutter you don’t really need or want is one of the most intrusive types of clutter. Everything is so cheap, you want to buy it (just in case) because the deal was so good. Over time, your home turns into a storage facility – a place full of unused bargains. 


How to deal with it?

Store sale, yard sale, promotional gift with every purchase, buy one get one free, etc. Even if something is free or too good to pass up, if you don’t really need it (and 99% of the time you don’t), leave it where it is.

Type 3. Bulk Clutter

While shopping you see a deal on a 12-pack of canned beans. You buy it because you’ll save some money. Two years later, and only 5 cans of beans have been eaten because no one in the family enjoys beans. In another scenario, your son needs slippers to use at the beach. You realize one pair is $8, but 4 pairs are only $21, so you buy for the whole family. You buy four pairs and use them exactly once. 

Sometimes clutter comes when you buy more than you use or need so you ‘stock up’ because it was a good deal. More often than not, there is no real reason to buy things in bulk and stock them because we can treat stores as our own storage facilities. 

! Buying in bulk and stocking up is not always bad. If you have a large freezer, why not take advantage of deals on meats and frozen foods you know you’ll eat. Toilet paper? Check. However, think twice before stocking up on fresh foods, toiletries, clothing, décor, and similar items because:

  • Fresh food will spoil soon.
  • Your taste and size may change.
  • Items may go out of style.
  • Etc.


How to deal with it?

Avoid buying more than you realistically use or need. When tempted because the price is really good, be honest with yourself about how much of it you truly need and whether you have a space to store it. 

Take inventory of what you already have, and make sure you use it up before buying any more. If you have too much of something, donate it to a food bank or homeless shelter to someone who’s actually going to use it.

Type 4. Gifts

It’s your b-day and you get a perfume whose scent you hate. Or is Christmas, and a red reindeer sweater awaits you under the Christmas tree. Yei. 

Gifts you’ve received but don’t like, need, or use. Perhaps you feel guilty about getting rid of them because you’re obligated to hold onto them just because it was a gift. But keeping something you don’t use, need, or like is how clutter builds up in your home.


How to deal with it?

Remember the purpose of the gift. You got it because someone really cares about you, and wants to show its love towards you. Once the gift is given and both the love is shown and the gift itself has been acknowledged and appreciated, the gift has served its purpose. It’s now up to you to decide if this is something you will use or not. If not, you know what to do.

Type 5. Aspirational Clutter

Some people exercise at least a few times per week and own lots of dumbbells, exercise equipment, protein powders, and similar items. They like to exercise and use everything they own. Then there are those who find themselves buying exercise equipment and protein powders thinking they will start exercising, but they never do. Or they train 2 times and then quit.

Same with a skateboard, or with that sewing machine you still haven’t figured out and now is just occupying space and collecting dust.


Aspirational clutter items are usually big, cool, and expensive things you bought with the best intentions that never came to fruition. They’re things you accumulate to develop a skill, help you change, or to appear differently to others. But you don’t use them right now, and maybe one day you will, but for now, they’re nothing more than aspirational clutter.


How to deal with it?

The best way to banish this type of clutter is to never let it come to your home in the first place. Have an honest conversation with yourself before buying or committing to something. Use the Wishlist strategy, and wait X number of days before making a purchase. 

If it’s possible to rent something just to try it out, do so before committing yourself to a new sport, hobby, or style.


To Be Continued…




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