I have been visiting family members in the past week. Being there and coming back I realized that my home still feels more cluttered than theirs although it isn’t. How’s that you might ask. Well, it’s the quite simple fact that we live in a much smaller space. Our rooms and cabinet space are limited and require a more minimal lifestyle than a whole house would. Also, I realized that no matter how big a house is, the amount of daily mess you make is about the same. So, of course in my home, dirty dishes seem to take up all the kitchen – add a little floordrobe as well as paperwork in progress and the whole living space is REALLY messy. There’s no clean room to make you feel at ease anymore. In a bigger home all these things can spread out, be hidden behind closed doors and make it possible to have some “cluttery spots” and still other places around the home to host visitors. It is a problem I fight every day. I am not the most tidy person and I tend to not pick up after myself immediately. So, yes, my home is often in a messy state. On the other hand, I feel that I came a long way during my decluttering journey, I have a good grasp of what I own and my long-term-clutter gets less and less instead of more and more as it used to (e.g. paperwork etc.). Although things may not be in best order, it is always possible to find things in a reasonable amount of time. I certainly feel I am living a relatively uncluttered life (not quite there, but getting really close), although my home often is a mess. There are certainly different layers of clutter:
The forgotten clutter
This is the kind of stuff that is just there, but never touched. It may fill your attic or your basement, but it may also be displayed in a glass front cabinet in your living room. It’s the things that are of no immediate use for you and that you probably wouldn’t even realize if someone nicked it. I find this is the kind of clutter a bigger house attracts. Children’s rooms just stay as they are, even when the children moved out years ago etc. etc. In my small home I am forced to question that kind of stuff quite regularly and I got rid of a lot of it over the past years.
The bottom clutter
This is the really nasty one: unsorted stuff. The things that haunt you. It’s stuff like unsorted paper work, collections that got out of control, junk drawers, craft supplies that are in a mess. It can also be unsorted relationships, problems in your work life or elsewhere, debt etc. It is most certainly the most difficult clutter to get rid of. People can’t see it from the outside (unless it got REALLY bad), but it’s what clutters your mind most. I think this is the most important kind of clutter to deal with. As it is hard to do, it will probably only get less over a long period of time, but it is so rewarding to work on it. I still have my things to sort there, but it’s rather getting less than more and I am glad to say that there is very little actual physical clutter that still falls in this category. In my home, I can find scissors, instructions, matching screws and bank statements quickly.
The surface clutter
This is the mess you make on a daily basis: dirty dishes, coats draped over kitchen chairs, bags put on dressers, mail on the counter, laundry heaps etc. This is also the kind of mess that makes my small home feel cluttered easily because there’s so little space to walk away from it and ignore it. Actually, I don’t think it’s a very bad kind of clutter as it is put away quickly, so I didn’t focus that much on it during my decluttering journey. As I already got rid of lots of duplicates the maximum amount it can add up to decreased. That’s quite simple maths: you can’t have a stack of 7 dirty pans if you only own 2. But still, a stack of 2 dirty pans still looks cluttery, so even though I put certain limits to it the basic problem of this kind of mess cluttering up my home still remains. Of course, being more rigid about it is the best way to go, but I came to think that accepting the fact that it will turn up and be there at least for a certain period of time might be a better way for me to deal with it. I think, I should start to think more about my ways and how to deal with this stuff so it doesn’t look just so cluttery anymore. E.g. it might be a good idea to have a space to put dirty dishes until I wash them, because there will always turn up that odd cup or pot to be washed (we don’t own a dishwasher) and cleaning up right away isn’t always an option. I can still work on cleaning up more often with those things put out of sight and not right on the counter.
What type of clutter is worst for you and what kinds of strategies or ideas do you have for the different types?
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter the good china if you rarely use it or better still declutter the everyday set and start using the good stuff all the time. You deserve it after all.
â€œIf we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think weâ€™d beÂ happy withÂ more?â€ â€” Unknown