Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ The New Messy

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

Dan and I were sitting in the living room recently. He looked around with great satisfaction and said, “This is the new messy.” I wasn’t sure what he meant. I looked around too. There were a couple of things on the coffee table that didn’t belong, a stray pair of shoes, the dog beds were sort of tossed to the side, and a project of mine that I had basically abandoned but not put away was sitting on the floor. I said, “It is kind of messy in here. What do you mean?” He replied, “I mean, if we have company, we could have this room completely together in an hour, including dusting and cleaning the floor.”

The new messy. I like it. Believe me, I’d had more than my fill of the old messy, where we couldn’t have company because it would take too long to get the house together.

How did we get there, and more importantly, how can you get to the new messy in your own home?

One day at a time, one item at a time.

Your house didn’t start looking like a toy store, a book shop, a paper factory, or a junk shop in one day, and it won’t be remedied in one day. It’s taken me more than a year to get to the new messy. It may take you six months or three years, but once you get started, eliminate one or two items a day, and you keep after it day after day, your situation will improve.

What will the new messy look like to you? Will it be defined as being able to sit on the sofa without moving a pile of items? Finding something in a drawer the first time you look, in the first drawer you look in? Having company stop by and being able to say without flinching, “Won’t you please come in?” Or maybe it’s being able to downsize to a house half of your current size or being able to actually count the number of items that you own without running out of numbers? Whatever your goal, you can get there one day at a time, one item at a time.

Today’s Declutter Item

I seem to be finding that I need less and less kitchen storage containers these days. Or is it just that they actually haven’t been used for some time and I am only now coming to terms with letting them go. Getting some return on your items can make it a lot easier to part with them. I sold this Tupperware container for $10 on ebay. The lady who bought it lived locally so saved $10 in postage by picking it up. She ended up giving me a tip so I actually got $14.00 for it.(Thank Carmel)

Another Tupperware piece sold on ebay

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Last week and today I have been trying to figure out some link issues that two of my readers have been having. In the process these two lovely ladies have written such beautiful stories and thank yous to me about their declutter missions and how my blog has helped them along the way. It is gratifying to know how my unique approach to decluttering has worked for people that could not find the solution any other way. I have received many lovely stories and thank you messages over the last 18 months and I am grateful for each and every one of them. It is very time consuming to produce a post five days a week and respond to all the wonderful comments I receive. But let me tell you it is a labour of love that is well worth the effort. Thank you all for keeping me company on my journey.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. I love that idea… “the new messy”. The last few weeks have been like that.. less than 20 minutes away from presentable. I’m happy to say even my kids (boys: 10 and 14) are coming on board! It’s too early yet to say it will stay, but the results are so possitive by the whole family that it’s a good chance it will be our regular status soon!!!!
    One spot that used to be an issue was laundry. Everyone had a laundry basket in their own room, and somehow they NEVER managed to put the clothes in them! Strewn all over the rooms, it was a source of frustration for me and I really didn’t like all the baskets to keep track of either. I thought I was doing good by giving them and easy depository for their dirty duds! But it just didn’t work. The new, simplified system has them throwing their dirty stuff out into the hall after they get dressed in the morning. Because it’s in our way it get’s dealt with right away! The pile gets scooped up on the way downstairs to feed the dog (good multitasking) and sorted to the only 2 laundrybaskets. I can’t beleive how much easier it is to keep tidy and on top of the laundry. The awesome side effect was that their clothes are cleaned more often so I have been able to PURGE some of the boys’ clothing too!!! Less baskets, less mess, less clothes!

    • Hi *pol,
      isn’t it interesting that it would take the same effort to throw the laundry into the hall than it does into the baskets you had provided and yet one has worked and the other has not. I would love you to ask the boys why they think one is doable for them but not the other. Curious 💡

  2. Interesting laundry system. We had the same problem when everyone had their own laundry basket. It seemed like an efficient idea, but was really a burden on me, the laundry doer. Our three bedrooms are close together, and we got a large wicker basket for in our bathroom. Everyone takes their clothes to that one location. Works like a charm. My friend Holly did the same thing – removed individual laundry baskets and went with two basket in their centrally located laundry closet: a white basket for white clothes and a blue basket for the colored clothes. Who would have guessed that trying to be more convenient would actually be less convenient?

  3. @Colleen, No ‘THANK YOU’ . Your blog is one i really look forward to reading and enjoy. You and Cindy have such a great approach to clutter and all issues that go with it. I know that if i knew you girls I would love you both. Bless you for giving up your time to help and inspire people!!

  4. Ooh, I want “the new messie”, too, Cindy!
    Unfortunately right now, it is more the old messie (with maybe a bit less stuff than it used to be and one or the other system that actually works … most of the time)
    However medium messie my state is round here though I had a major breakthrough this week: At the end of the week I am actually going to declutter something from the aspirational clutter that is clogging basement and attic and that is so hard to let go. A huge picture frame. And yes, I actually did something with it. I scrubbed and sandpapered off old dirt and paint until it had a beachy, whitewashed slightly shabby chic look and stapled a fabric inside that I once could not pass by without buying two yards because I thought is was so nice it could even qualify as wall art … Now I hope, the sore muscles in my hand from scrubbing and stapling will urge me to get rid of some of my aspirational clutter without upcycling it first (though I am apparently not totally delusional about being capable making something out of it … which definitely makes it harder to let go). And of course I hope my friend who will receive this DIY for her birthday will like it. She has been wanting some big art over her couch for years, having neither the money nor an exact idea. However, not to let it be guilt clutter for her she’ll also get a “coupon” with it to have me change the fabric to a fabric of her choice if she wants. With the frame itsself I am pretty sure.
    I hope, it will not have been the last aspirational clutter to be attacked this year but just the tip of the iceberg.
    Now off to put the staple gun and the sandpaper back to where they belong …

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      well done girl. And I particularly liked that you have given your friend an escape clause with the gift. That’s one more thing out of your house, yahoo!
      I find I still have twangs of ~ Do I really want to do this ~ went I declutter certain things but it is a bit like removing a band-aid. Once the deed is done I waste no more time thinking about it.

      • Bad messy to medium messy to new messy. You’re on your way. I love the effort you went to to recycle your frame and fabric. Like Colleen, I also love that you gave your friend an out. A thoughtful girft indeed.

  5. For us the new messy means being able to clean up our (small) place in 10 minutes for company 🙂 Most of the time it just means putting back toys, and possibly folding the line-dried laundry. A few random things might be put back where they belong. I love it, I’m never overwhelmed anymore and I used to be ALL THE TIME.

  6. I dropped by a friends house (to pick up some plates I’d left there on Friday evening) and was surprised that he hadn’t done a quick clean up (as I would if I knew I was having company, and it seems most people here would). I mean it was fine, but it wasn’t quite as clean/tidy/organised as Friday.

    Then he said something that really scared me – he was worried one day he’d get home and half of what he owned might be gone, cause my decluttering ways had taken over the place. It really worried me that what I’m embracing and doing, is leaking into other peoples lives, and not in a positive way! I reassured him that I’d never get rid of someone elses stuff (certainly not a friend’s, family is a little more lenient). Food for thought for me…

    • Snoosie, Why did your friend think you’d steal (?) his stuff to declutter it? Many of us who’ve been at it for a while definitely do influence our frriends, but not for evil, which is what your friend was implying. Sounds like a guilty conscious speaking, as in “I need to declutter and I’m afraid.”

      • Perhaps? It is strange that he’d think I would throw his things out without his knowledge?! But I think you’re right, when I ask the ‘do you love this’ questions, or why do you have this sorts of questions, the answer was ’cause I feel I have to’ – this was for purely ornamental things… I just hope I don’t push the point. Decluttering works for me, but that doesn’t mean it will be something everyone else is willing to embrace or think about!

        • One of my friend posted on FB yesterday that when she looks at some bit of clutter, she thinks, “Cindy would probably get rid of this,” and it motivates her. Maybe your friend will move from being fearful to being inspired.

  7. Hi Cindy,
    I loved this post. It is so what 365lessthings is all about. Slowly but surely bit by bit working our way towards the new messy.

  8. I love this post and even more I love that I am at the new messy. It is lovely to know that you don’t have to run around madly when people call in.

    Thank you Colleen and Cindy for the time and effort you put into these posts. This is one of the first places I come each day.

  9. Hi Colleen and Cindy. I read this post and started to have a look around my house. It will take me around an hour to get it in a nice state to have guests. I was so happy! I mean it is not a “no mess” place, but I don’t have to refuse company because of the state of the house. Sometimes the beds are unmade, there are dishes in the sink, but it is all chores to be done daily, it is not a bunch of clutter just laying around. I would like to thank you both for the encouragement and help I received here through good and bad times! 😀

    • Hi Andréia,
      it pays to be the cup half full kind of person. If you looked around and thought well this place is still messy so why do I bother, that would be no good. If you can look around as you did and said, yes it would take me an hour to clean up but that is a big improvement on the past, then you are thinking positive. If the new messy is better than the old mess then good for you. There may even be a newer messy even better than the current one just around the corner.

      It is always our pleasure to be of help.

  10. Hi Colleen and Cindy,
    So THAT’S what I’m aspiring to – “new messy” sounds much more doable than “neat and tidy”, doesn’t it?

  11. Thank you is simply not adequate for the inspiration this site has brought to our family’s life…. We recently did the biggest purge of our 15 years of living in our house. We live in an older home that has a cellar basement that you walk outside and go down steps to get to. It runs the entire size of our house minus the two rooms we added. We live in Central Birmingham, AL, and when the deadly tornadoes destroyed our beautiful state on April 27th, my husband and a friend spent 3 hours trying to arrange all the junk to make it safe enough for 4 adults and my 6 year old son. We were blessed to not receive any damage but many of our friends were not so lucky. Cleaning out the atrocious basement has been on our to do list for ever, but we made the decision and finally “did it”. My husband had to take 3 days off and we worked throughout the weekend. We bought 4 Bagsters that hold 3000 lbs and filled each one to the top. We found some interesting items that we have been able to sell and barter with local craft makers at out farmers market. We had pickers come by and sort through our trash and made $50. This was an expensive project due to the pick up fees for the 4 Bagsters and the initial purchases of them ($33 per bagster, $99 for first bagster pick up, $79 each for the other three, plus $200 to pay our friend for his hard work completing this project). Now that this HUGE project is done, it gives us hope that we can tackle anything in our home. It will have to baby steps because our home is very lived in, if you know what I mean, but I am determined to do it!

    • Wow Mandy, what a job well done. You must have been so relieved when that mammoth effort was complete. It is amazing what we can achieve when we finally decide to take the plunge and just get on with it. I wish you every success with the baby steps that you will be taking from now on. Keep at it and don’t give up. As you can tell, from the wonderful stories my readers send in, a big difference can be made over time taking those baby steps. You may not notice the changes much to begin with but during that stage keep remembering all the stuff that has gone and eventually you will get to a stage where the difference will be obvious. And never forget that the key to getting uncluttered is to not add to the clutter while you are subtracting it. Stay sensible with you purchasing and you will notice a big difference sooner, not only to your clutter but to your bank account.

      I would also like to say welcome to 365 Less Things as I believe this is your first comment. It is always a pleasure to add another voice to our little community and it is especially gratifying to hear about people’s successes. I hope you will drop in often to chat and let us know how you are getting on with your mission. Good luck Mandy and all the best to you.
      Regards Colleen

      • Mandy, Oh my goodness waht a huge job! Congratulations for wading through it. A next important step, of course, is keeping up with the flow of things coming into your house, so that you don’t end up in the same position in another 10 years. Some people find this is the downfall of doing a big declutter: They move it all out, then new stuff starts to creep in. Definitely something to be aware of. If you continue your decluttering efforts at a-thing-a-day, it definitely will keep you aware.

  12. The new messy is life changing. Especially in a small place like ours. We live with 3 cats, a home studio (read: many guitars and cases and amps), 2 adults, a home office and a still large but narrowed down vintage clothing collection (mine and I LOVE it) in under 500 sq ft and we are always 5-10 minutes from company ready. Its about keeping only what we love and then making sure everything we love has a place. Clutter can OWN us if we are not on top of it. Once something comes in something else goes out and we deal with it immediately. It took awhile to get to this point but out of the bags and bags of “stuff” we got rid of I cant name a single thing I miss. Nothing. I would rather have a peaceful, cozy, zen, organized home that inspires creativity than stuff.

    • Hi Renee,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for those words of wisdom. You are proof that you can have your cake and eat it too. Decluttering isn’t about getting rid of all the thing you love and use it is about keeping the quantity under control and organising it well and you have achieved that. Once you get to this level “one in one out” is certainly the way to keep it in control. I seems to me that you have it all worked out and I am glad you dropped by to share your story with us.

  13. It’s interesting to think of degrees of messy – I am at the new messy stage with small areas that need work. I didn’t realize how far I’ve come ( or how different others are) til I spontaneously invited a friend over to the house and she said “Wow – you even fix your bed when you don’t know you’re having company” I didn’t even realize that would be a level for some people to conquer

    • Hi Jessiejack,
      I will tell you a funny story about fixing the bed.
      When my hubby and I were first married I would leave for work before him and I would say to him “You make sure you make the bed before you leave.” One day he admitted that he only made the bed when he got home.. I berated him and he said “What difference does it make, it’s made when you get home.” And I said “What if we have a burglar, what kind of housewife would he think I was!” I think my husband thought I was quite mad.
      So clearly everyone has the own individual level of messy.

      • That is so so so funny! That your concerned what a burglar might think you’re a bad housekeeper!!

        My dad’s more of a ‘housekeeper’ than mum – mum goes away and he’s a whirlwind of activity, it makes me (usually deemed helpful) feel like a sloth!

        • Hi Snosie,
          One of my brother-in-laws is kind of the opposite. He shares the housework at his home but when he visits my home when he is on business trips he sits back and enjoys being waited on.

    • I think that is a real test JessieJack – Having someone stop by unexpectedly and knowing that the house looks good, or at least, perfectly presentable. My pastor stopped by out of the blue one day, and I was so delighted to hear the words, “Won’t you come in?” flow easily from my mouth!

  14. Excellent post, Cindy!

    >>>Having someone stop by unexpectedly and knowing that the house looks good, or at least, perfectly presentable. My pastor stopped by out of the blue one day, and I was so delighted to hear the words, “Won’t you come in?” flow easily from my mouth!<<<

    I've lived in "the new messy" for years, and I agree with you–it's such a relief to not be mortified when somebody unexpectedly shows up at the door.

    During the years when I was a young mother, clueless about decluttering and organizing, I would just about die if somebody knocked on the door. Even now, I still remember the humiliation I felt when somebody, like my fastidious mother in law, would come into our disaster zone.

    For those who have just begun to declutter, let me encourage you that it is a great relief, and a wonderful way to live, knowing that you can open your door, without embarrassment and shame, to anyone.

    (Of course, it also helps to be over 50, when you can feel comfortable with the attitude that if they don't like what they see, they don't have to look!) 😉


  1. […] left this comment on the weekend about the advantages of the New Messy at her […]