Clutter is one of the one of the biggest challenges in keeping your home looking nice. It can get out of control SO quickly and then you’re up to your neck in dishes, mail, shoes, newspapers, backpacks, etc. If you can just get this one very simple clutter habit under control, you would be so surprised at what a difference it would make in your home!
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One simple thing you can do is to just get in the habit of taking a few things with you every time you leave a room. It would literally take a matter of seconds to pick up a couple of glasses or dishes when you’re heading for the kitchen, a pair of shoes or a coat when you’re headed for the bedroom – how easy is that? Eliminating the clutter in this way will make your room look so much cleaner and will make it so much easier to keep a room looking nice.
Part of the problem is you get to the point where you don’t even notice the clutter. It’s incredibly easy to become blind to it. Once you remove the constant clutter from a room, you’ll notice even one thing out of place. It’s like the peace and quiet of the country after a few weeks of being in the noise and bustle of the city. It’s very refreshing.
The trick is to build this new habit properly. You know the old saying that it takes 28 days to build a habit. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but building new habits is definitely a big challenge for me. However, there are some little tricks you can use to help get yourself into the habit of actually seeing the clutter again, and keeping it under control.
Here are my best motivational tips for clutter
- Put a rubber band around your wrist or a brightly colored bracelet.
- Reward yourself. If notice yourself making small improvements around the house, reward yourself with a little extra TV time or a special coffee or some other small, easily repeatable reward.
- Stick up Post-It notes everywhere to encourage yourself. Honestly, this is one of my best tips. I love those little yellow squares. I’m always so reluctant to write things down, but when I manage to do it, they get DONE. Example: “Adrian may not get on the computer until 11:00 AM”. Crazy, huh?
- Engage your kids or your husband. Explain that you’re trying something new and ask for their support, just for a couple of weeks. Then you can reassess how well it’s working. Or even better, go out for ice cream or something if the family stays on track with the habit for a few days.
- One clutter problem I hear a lot about are the kids toys. Definitely a legit problem. One solution – limit the toys to just one room, like their room, or a playroom. I always liked to have my kids in the same room with me, so what I did was I buy an old school desk for them, the kind with the lift-up lid. They could have whatever coloring books or toys that would fit in their desk and they could sit and play there while we watched TV in the evening.
- The other issue I hear about is paper clutter – I have a whole post about dealing with paper.
- Try the don’t “break the chain” technique. Get a calendar and some fun stickers. You get a sticker for each day you remember your habit. When you get a chain of 3 or 4 days, plan a special treat for yourself and then you won’t want to break the chain.
My Best Decluttering Resources
Here are some of my favorite resources for dealing with clutter. I know everyone is crazy about this new Marie Kondo book, but while I could see some benefit to her methods of decluttering by category, but she was just not my cup of tea. I did like her idea about doing a whole category of items at a time though – all books, all movies, all tops, etc.
I like someone who is more practical, and for that, Peter Walsh is my guy. My favorite book of his about clutter is this one – It’s All Too Much. It’s solid, practical advice that works. You don’t even have to thank your socks or only keep ONE of everything – both items from the Kondo book.
Julie Morgenstern is also a big favorite of mine. Her SHED method is really brilliant and a very practical way to deal with your clutter issues. In a lot of cases, it’s just exhaustion and overwhelm about making decisions. I get it – a regular home may have 300,000 separate items in it – I can’t imagine how many would be in a very cluttered home! But if I can conquer my clutter issues – you can too!
I did a book review on a book called Throw Out Fifty Things that was fabulous for dealing with clutter. If you are interested in taking it to the next level, check that one out. It not only deals with physical clutter, it deals with schedule clutter, relationship clutter, and the shiny object syndrome that gets in our way of achieving your goals. It’s a great book!
What is your biggest clutter challenge?
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