Is clutter the bane of your life? What types of clutter do you have? Do you feel like you are on the clutter hamster wheel, as soon as you get rid of some, more appear, as if by magic.
I hear ya, I used to be precisely the same. I’d spend a whole weekend doing a mad clear out only for the place to be cluttered up again 2 weeks later, like some evil clutter monster out to haunt me for the rest of my life.
But then I decided, enough was enough.
Before we get into how I went from clutter chaos to calm and in control, let’s talk about the different types of clutter and how to deal with it.
“Maybe Need It” Types Of Clutter
The first types of clutter fall into this category. These are the things that you keep because they might be useful or you might need them someday. You know, like that size 8 pair of jeans that you are hoping to fit in again one day…
You know what I am talking about here!
How about that sports equipment collecting dust in the cupboard or the electrical gadget in the drawer that you can’t quite remember what it does but it might be useful one day!
Oh yes and talking electrical equipment, hands up if you have a box of cables but you don’t actually know what most of them are for. I see you, my friend!
This kind of clutter is hard to let go of because of the wasting money mindset. You paid for that sexy pair of jeans back in 2001 (that’s 20+ years ago folks!) then life happened and you haven’t managed to get your arse into them since but they were expensive and there is nothing wrong with them, right?
Or the cables, might be something important, what if you need them? It’ll probably cost a fortune if you chuck it and then later realise you need it, yep?
The best way to deal with this type of clutter is by putting a deadline on it. If you have not used them by say, the end of the year. Out they go. If you have anything that is in good repair but you are not using it, pass it on or sell it. Just because you are letting it go, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line for it.
There are always people out there happy to take things off your hands. Susan, one of my clients made $1234 on her decluttering journey, which went towards a dream lifetime trip to Scotland.
For electrical items, use decorative masking tape (a good excuse to have it in the house!) to make labels for your cables and the gadget it is used for. I use different tape for different items so I can quickly find the cable I need and when I’m throwing out an electrical gadget, I find the cable that goes with it and they both go!
Sentimental Types Of Clutter
Old love letters, papers that you wrote at a university, the trinket box that your first, or was it your third boyfriend gave to you? Birthday cards that you haven’t looked at since the day you shoved them in a box, concert tickets, baby clothes and toys. Gifts from loved ones, hand-me-downs, souvenirs and keepsakes.
All these fall under sentimental clutter and this is the stuff that is the hardest type of clutter to get rid of. For that reason, I recommend leaving this until last. Hone those decluttering skills, and work on the mindset, then when it comes to the sentimental stuff, it is so much easier to let it go.
Do you have to chuck it all out? Absolutely not!
But you do need to distinguish between what should be kept and what should go. And also things like the amount of space you have available plays a part in this decision-making process too.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What is the sentimental attachment to this item? Is it the actual object or the memory or association to the person, place or time? You can keep the memories without the object, not quite ready to do that, then take a photo! If you truly love the object for what it is, then it’s not clutter and you get to keep it!
- Are you keeping the item over feeling guilty? Guilt is not a helpful emotion to have when you are decluttering, try to put the emotion to one side and then evaluate the object. Chances are, it will be added to the “see ya” pile.
- Unwanted gifts. We all receive gifts that we don’t like, want or need on occasion. There is no need to hold onto it. Once the gift is yours, it is yours to do as you please. Don’t feel that you have to hold onto something just because it was a gift.
- Heirlooms. If you have something that has been passed down to you but you either don’t have space or you just don’t like it. Ask around in the family and see if someone else would love to have it. You could also ask at a local museum or heritage site to see if they want it.
- Tickets, newspaper cuttings, paper clutter. You could consolidate it all into a scrapbook or scan/take photos and make a digital scrapbook. Or at the very least, save them all together in a well-labelled box.
What I recommend for the kid’s sentimental items, you know, special artwork they have created, awards from school, sports trophies and the whatnot. Each child gets a box and they are allowed to keep whatever they wish BUT it must all fit in the box.
This helps to keep the clutter under control and in one place and also helps the kids to learn about what is important to them. Occasionally, you might want to override a decision but on the main part, let the kids be the decision-makers.
Vagrant Types Of Clutter
These types of clutter win the prize for the most annoying! These are the items that you want or need but seem to work their way around the house. One day in the living room, the next in the kitchen. The item is never where you think it will be and always takes you an age to find when you need it.
The problem here is that it doesn’t have a home, every item in your home needs a home.
That sounds simple enough but it is amazing how many people have numerous vagrant items doing the rounds or the item will have a temporary home. This is one of the things we work on in Clear The Clutter so that by the time you have finished, you have no vagrant items and everyone in your home knows where everything lives. This makes finding items easy and cleaning up painless.
This includes everything from kitchen scissors to bills and school paperwork. Anything that ‘floats’ around your home, needs a permanent address.
Fixing this is pretty simple.
Find the item a home. It should be close to where it gets used the most and be logical. It would be daft to keep the kitchen whisk in the bathroom or an eye mask in the mudroom closet!
+1 Other Peoples Clutter
This can be really hard if you are the tidy one and you live with a bunch of packrats. Moving forward, do it in this order…
- Deal with your own clutter first. First things first, get your own stuff under control. Once they see the changes often they feel inspired to follow suit, no nagging required!
- Create healthy boundaries. Give family members space for their stuff, but it needs to be kept in their area. This gives you permission not to tidy up their crap, if it is left lying around, dump it back in their space and let them deal with it.
- Work on a plan together. Once you start working towards a better-organized home and they understand the benefits too, then create a plan and work together.
How I Decluttered My Home For Good
Like everything I do, I broke it into baby steps and instead of trying to do it all in a weekend, alla Marie Kondo Netflix style. I took a more practical approach. Focused on one room at a time and did it well. And you know what? It was easy, easy to implement and easy to maintain.
And when I shared with people what I had been doing, they wanted in too, so I created Clear The Clutter as a way for you to have the same great result. No stress and totally doable, even if you are a busy mom, juggling the kid’s home and a job!
And the best bit, is you don’t have to do it every day, just tackle one small thing every second day and before you know it, you have created new habits and the family start joining in too!