10 Causes and Cures for Clutter | Organizing Made Fun: 10 Causes and Cures for Clutter

Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 Causes and Cures for Clutter

I have been a professional organizer for 12 years now.
I have seen a lot of clutter. Through the years, I have helped many families "organize" their spaces, and during this process, I kept notes on the most common reasons that they called me for help. All of their dilemmas boiled down to this:

My last guest this week is Leslie, from Goodbye House, Hello Home! You may have remembered her on the Spring into Organization Tour in March. She is going to share:

Too much stuff (i.e. clutter) and nowhere to put it neatly.

I also observed the most frequent causes of clutter, and designed plans that, if implemented immediately or over time, would eliminate nearly all of the frustration associated with it. THE ONLY WAY TO BE ORGANIZED IS TO GET RID OF CLUTTER. I believe that if we understand the causes of clutter, we can (almost) cure ourselves into being organized. As I wrote this list, I want you to know that I was also writing to myself. Most of the pictures are from my own clients' homes. 

Here we go: 
Cause  #1: We don't purge or donate frequently enough.

Cure:  De-clutter as you go. Have pop-up bins or boxes designated for purging and donations handy. I keep mine in my office closet. I use the Jall pop-up laundry bag with stand from IKEA :
Or the Fiskars Pop-Up bag from Target :
While you are doing laundry, if you decide that something is no longer needed, take it to the donation bag. While digging through your utensil drawer, remove a few of those pesky, rarely used citrus zesters or corn cob holders, and toss them in the bag. While picking up the toys for the tenth time today, remove some of the less-liked ones to the pop-up bins. When the bin(s) are full, put them in your can and drop them off at your favorite charity. Simplify a bit every day.

Cause #2:  We keep many duplicates of items, when one or a few will suffice.


Cure:  Keep the best of your things.
Do you find yourself always using the same spatula?
Do you have a pair of jeans that you select before other pairs?
Are some recipes in certain cookbooks more prized than are others? Consider that the second-choice spatulas, jeans, and cookbooks are extras, classified as clutter, and get them to the donation bins, pronto. 

Cause #3: We don't assign "homes" for things.

Cure: Assign homes for items, thus: place them in the most convenient location, according to how often the item gets taken to and from that location. Some examples: my car keys get hung on a magnetic hook on the door out to the garage. The Christmas decor goes on overhead bins out in the garage (seasonal stuff gets stored further away from our daily space).

 Is there a particular spot in your home that daily-used items naturally gather? Backpacks, purses, shoes, etc. by the back door? Paperwork, pencils, gadgets in the kitchen? Set up a center in those locations. 

Cause #4:  We save things for "someday" when we think we might need or use it.

Cure: Don't think of de-cluttering as getting rid of your stuff, think of it as giving it to someone else who may need it more than you do. Realize that if someday hasn't already come, then it may never come. Weigh the pain of letting go of it with the pain of living with and maintaining it all. You may miss something after it's gone, but I doubt that you'll even remember the majority of what you'll recycle. Most of all, have faith that you'll make the right decision!

Cause #5:  We don't buy good quality in the first place, and we waste time and space on items that need to be returned, mended, or exchanged. 

Cure: Purchase the best quality that you can afford of the item that you need. I constantly use Consumer Reports for information on products that I am considering buying. The subscription price is worth every penny.

Cause #6: We confuse needs with wants. (Most garage sales are held because of this reason.)

Cure: Ask yourself if the desired item is, indeed, necessary for your happiness. As you assess the usefulness, price, and mass of each item, determine if said item(s) will contribute to your goal of simplicity. Your peace is your choice. You don't have to buy anything. I write about What I Didn't Buy at Ikea, HERE.

Cause #7: We place more value on things than things deserve. 

Cure: If you can live with the consequences of not buying something, then you can live without the thing. To determine the worth of an item, ask yourself, "Could I get another one of these fairly easily and inexpensively if I needed it again someday?" If the answer is "yes", let the item go.

Cause #8:  We use credit when we should use cash.

Cure: Free yourself from creditors. Using credit delays the pain of the purchase and makes buying frivolously an easy pastime. This statement may cause a controversy here, but I will say it anyway: There are NO good reasons to keep a credit card. Here's WHY to become debt-free.

Cause #9:  We over-commit ourselves to too many projects, places, and people. This causes more spending, shopping, and setbacks on our road to simplifying. 

Cure: Learn to say, "I'm sorry, but I can't," and, "No." Decide what's most important to you and place everything else below it. To me, family, home, and God are most important. If I am contemplating doing anything that interferes with them, I take a moment to decide if it's really worth the sacrifice of my time, talent, or treasure (personal resources). It's O.K. to put your priorities back in order if you've let them slip.

Cause #10: We don't take control of our choices. Instead, we spend too much time escaping via the internet, television, Pinterest, FaceBook,  and daydreaming about how we'd rather be.

Cure: Make a master list of goals and stick to it the best that you can. Give yourself goals and time frames to complete your list(s). I love these daily, weekly, cleaning, and menu lists by Design Finch.
Be encouraged that clutter is a manageable condition,
and if you need more ideas please come visit me and see all my posts on ORGANIZING.
I loved being here and I pray that you have a beautiful day 
making your home! 

Is this not some of the best organizing advice you've ever had??? Leslie is amazing and her tips are definitely ones I've told you before...only she's got them all here in this one place. I think #7 is my favorite one of this list! So good to remember that. I'll be back tomorrow with some updates of my own! I'm flying home from my hubby's business trip from Florida today - which was semi-vacation for me {although I've been working on blog updating here and there}. I'll be bringing you lots of great ideas this month to continue keeping you motivated to organize!

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