Bringing back one of our most popular…
Whether it’s the overflowing clothes in your closet, the kids’ toys strewn across the floor or the mail that just keeps piling up on the kitchen counter, we all deal with clutter—large or small—everyday. For some, it’s just a matter of needing ‘to get to it’, while for others, having too much stuff stems from deeper internal issues. Organizing guru and acclaimed author Peter Walsh shares his insights for effectively tackling clutter, whether yours is minor or extreme.
“We’ve bought too easily into a mind-set that tells us more is better—a kind of “super-size it” mentality which implies that to be better off you have to own more things. This idea inevitably leads to homes overflowing with piles of clutter, unused and usually unwanted but tough to get rid of. True happiness and achievement is not about the quantity of things you own—it’s the quality of your life and relationships.”
To tackle clutter you need a clear plan and a serious commitment to change. It starts with establishing that clear vision. It’s not what you need for your house, but what you want from your house. If clutter is a problem for you, try the following actions today:
- Immediately stop the flow of items into your home.
- Accept the space limits created by the size of your home.
- Appreciate and respect what you already own.
- Rather than blaming others, accept personal responsibility for what is in your home and focus your energy on addressing the issue.
Most importantly, realize that there are often internal issues that need addressing – perhaps you’re fearful of losing an important memory if you let go of an object, or that you need to hold onto things just in case you might need them one day. Remembering the past, or preparing for the future is not a problem – unless the items you hold onto hinder the life you could and should be living today.
Create Your Ideal Space – Your Vision
Choose adjectives to describe what you want the mood and feeling of the room in question to be. Ask yourself: “Do the things in this space help me create what I want from this room?” Say you would like the foyer in your home to be a welcoming, calming space, but it is filled with old mail, key rings, shoes, coats, umbrellas and other items. Do those things make your foyer welcoming and calming? Most likely the answer is no and it’s time to remove those items from that space.
Get everyone on board
Shared spaces mean a shared vision. Gather your family together to talk about how your home can best serve your family’s needs. Gain consensus through discussion and negotiation. If people share a vision, they’ll be more committed to maintaining order in that space.
Start immediately – just ten minutes a day
Set aside time everyday for everyone in the family to join in ‘The Trash Bag Tango’. Give everyone two trash bags and set a timer for ten minutes. The goal is to fill one trash bag with trash and the other with items that you no longer need, use or want. These items can be donated to Goodwill or sold at a garage sale. If three of you do this for just ten minutes a day, at the end of the week you’ll have 21 bags of trash and 21 bags ready for donation. That’s an accomplishment!
More from Peter
How extreme clutter affects different areas of your life:
- Because dust and mold commonly accumulate in cluttered areas, there is usually an issue with ventilation in the home that causes respiratory problems.
- In addition to severe stress, excess clutter can cause arguments between you and the people close to you, putting your relationships in jeopardy.
- When a home is cluttered, you and your family members can become socially isolated.
- Overspending will have a serious impact on your finances.