I’ve noticed that there are several very distinct kinds of clutter. Do you recognize yourself in one of these five statements?
“This is perfectly useful, I can’t just throw it away.”
It’s good to have useful things around the house, but you don’t need them in massive quantities.
If you can’t bear to throw useful things away, give them to people who need them. I had a shelf packed with those glass vases that come with flower arrangements – too nice to toss but too many to use – so I gave them all to the neighborhood flower shop.
“One day, this might come in handy.”
True. But there’s a cost to having piles of empty shoe boxes, jam jars, and half-filled cans of paints.
Ask yourself: how much would it cost to buy this item, if I needed it? Do I need to keep more than one of this item? How often does something like this come into the house?
“I bought this doodad to help me get organized.”
Ironically, I’ve noticed that folks with the worst clutter problems often react to their clutter by buying more stuff: racks, fancy hangers, the device that sucks the air out of plastic bags that hold clothes.
Beware! You should always attack a clutter problem first by GETTING RID of stuff rather than by trying to ORGANIZE stuff.
“This is a precious memory.”
College t-shirts. Your father’s old desk. We all keep items out of pure sentiment, and that’s okay – to a point. Ask yourself whether one finger-painted nursery-school blob masterpiece is enough, instead of two huge boxes full.
If you need a memory prompt, consider taking a picture. Store such items so they’re out of the way, rather than keeping them in active closets or drawers.
“I’m saving this for my children/when I get another dog/when I lose weight.”
Be wary of saving things to be used in the hazy future. Some things are absolutely worth keeping, but they’re exceptions.
Is that junky, dusty plastic toy going to appeal to your as-yet-unborn grandchildren? If you got a new dog, you’d probably want a fresh dog bed, and if you lost a bunch of weight, you’d probably decide to buy a new pair of jeans.