Clutter . . .

  • From dictionary.com:
    • A disorderly heap or assemblage
    • A state or condition of confusion
    • Confused noise, clatter

It happens to all of us. Little piles of stuff turn into big piles of stuff. Little "collections" turn into big unruly collections. It can feel like one day you're on top of it all and the next, you're drowning in debris.  The thing is, clutter is not something that happens in a couple of days. It can take weeks, months, even years. At that point, it's hard to face and even harder to know what to do. 

We're not talking about hoarding or OCD here. Just regular everyday life. With school ready to start again, it's a really good time to tackle the clutter that is always in the back of your head - nagging.  Here are three ways to attack the "black holes" of "I put it in a safe place" before you are drowning in a whole new year of forms. (Speaking of forms, someone remind me to get the form from our pediatrician.) 

  1. Pick one area at a time - I generally start with a cluttered counter in my kitchen. Set a timer for 15 minutes. You can do anything in 15 minutes - tackle that corner. Sort stuff into piles as quickly as you can. Keep, relocate, toss. Don't hesitate to get your kids involved once you've sorted. Work one day at a time, one corner at a time. Before you attack the area, have some supplies on hand: 
    1. A bag for trash
    2. A basket/box for things that need to be moved to their rightful place
    3. A bag for donations
  2. If working in little bits isn't your style, plan to tackle a room. Start with #1's instructions but spend a few hours in one room.  Ideally, you can get someone to entertain your kids for a few hours. Be ruthless. Stop saving random screws, buttons and things you cannot even name. If you haven't need them by now, you don't need them. 
  3. Are you a list-maker? Clear some time where you are alone and can think. Get your clipboard and go room to room making detailed lists of what piles of clutter need to be addressed. (For us, our bedroom is the equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys. So very scary.) Once you've done that - make a plan to clear it up methodically and stick to it.  

No matter how you approach clutter, keep an eye out for what is lacking in your home that might help contain the clutter. Everyone in and out through the front door? A thoughtfully crafted hall tree might make all the difference. Chaos in the family room? Consider a large, thin dresser with plenty of drawers instead of a plain sofa table. Label the drawers and store things like school supplies, video game equipment, batteries, dvd's, and even guest bedding if your family room doubles as a guest room.

Sometimes the right piece of furniture can make a HUGE difference. It's all well and good to say "A place for everything and everything in its place." But, if there isn't a place, you're stuck. The piece above used to be our bedroom dresser. I desperately want to redo it but it will have to wait for now. Currently, it holds: school/office supplies, paper of every variety, art supplies, Mike's beer making notebooks and my miscellaneous drawer. It must weigh 500 pounds. But, when you walk into the house, you only see a beautiful-ish dresser

Start small. One pound of clutter at a time. You'll be amazed at the new found space and the possibilities revealed.