Raise your hand if you have an old cell phone tucked away in a drawer. Or, maybe you have an old pair of shoes or a box of clothes in the bottom of your closet that you haven’t worn for over a year. Or, maybe you have ‘a few’ boxes tucked out in your garage that may or may not have been there since you moved into your house several years ago. It’s called clutter. Despite our attempts to say out of sight, out of mind, it’s costing us our time, money, focus, and often our peace. Oh, we try to ignore it. For a while we may even stop seeing it. But as long as it’s there, even when we pretend it’s not, it’s got a hold on us.
The cost of clutter
- One in four people with a two car garage have so much stuff they can’t park a car in it.
- One in ten Americans rent storage space.
- The US has five times more storage facilities than Starbucks.
- During our lifetime, we’ll spend an average of 153 days searching for misplaced items.
- We lose up to nine items a day. Keys, phones, paperwork and sunglasses top the list.
- The home organization industry is now over an $8 billion dollar industry and still growing.
It’s both daunting and overwhelming. So what can you do?
10 tips to tame your clutter:
- Ask questions. How did I feel the last time I wore this? How much would I pay for this if I didn’t already own it? If I saw this in a store today, would I buy it? Let your answers provide insight as to what to keep.
- Tackle it in small doses. Pick a number and each day I’m going to mindfully deal with that number of items. You can even nickname the effort – “Strive for Five.” Each day look around and decide on your five things and deal with them. They can be big or small. The idea with this approach is to be consistent. You’ll be amazed how the small but consistent approach adds up. And, you don’t need to wait for a Saturday to get started.
- Set a timer. Pick a window of time and stay focused until the timer rings. 30 minute sprints add up. Defining your start and end time increases productivity. Set your cell phone down and focus until the timer rings.
- Lose it or lose it. Put everything that you want to keep and doesn’t fit into a box. Give yourself a healthy weight loss goal for the next month as an example I’ll say 4 pounds. At the end of the month, if you haven’t achieved that loss, donate 3 or more things from your “skinny” box. Remember these are the clothes you hope to wear again. You need to lose it, or you lose it. If you aren’t making progress towards wearing them again, it makes sense to thin out that stash of clothes.
- Flip your hangers. Turn all of the hangers in one direction. When you wear an item and return it to the closet, turn the hanger in the opposite direction. After six months, pull out the items with the hangers in the original position. If you aren’t wearing those items, why not get rid of them?
- Start in your storage spaces. If your closets and drawers are disorganized, it may be helpful to start with them. Then as you organize your rooms, items have a place to go.
- Start with the space that bothers you most. You may have an area that is causing more pain than others. The distraction it causes or the risk of not dealing with it may warrant it to have the priority. For example if your paperwork is out of control, you could miss a bill causing you to pay it late. Prioritize your starting space as appropriate if one area has a hidden cost.
- Track your progress. Plan for motivational hits. After you get started, you’ll doubt your progress. This can be overcome by taking before pictures. When you can look back on how far you’ve come, you’ll be motivated to continue.
- Use the 3 box method. As you work through a space, have three bins – put away, give away, toss. Work through your clutter filling the bins. Then when the bins are full, deal with them.
- Stop procrastinating. Thinking about reducing your clutter won’t reduce it. Pick a starting point and do something today! It will be easier to continue tomorrow and you’ll be glad you did!
Please tell me I’m not the only one who continually fights the clutter battle. After writing this, I plan to heed my own advice. I’ll be using some of my time to declutter this weekend.
Where do you battle clutter? Which of these tips will you try? I’d love to hear from you. Click to comment and join the conversation. And, if you have a friend or family member who is fighting this battle, why not share this post?
And, if you haven’t signed up yet, why not enter your email and join my list? You’ll have future posts delivered right to your inbox.
Subscribe for your free Intentional Living Goal Calendar and updates!
Join Susan's email list and receive your "My Intentional Living Goal Calendar" and recieve Susan's encouraging updates.
Susan, this is all very helpful. I struggle in this area. My favorite is number 2, strive for five might be our new family motto! Blessings on your Saturday. In Christ, Julie
Thanks Julie! When I’ve faithful doing the strive for five, Ive been surprised how fast it adds up and how many days I do a few extra things because I’m already in motion. Blessings friend!
Your blog inspired me, Susan! I cleaned out the junk drawer in the kitchen and another drawer upstairs and I found 11 phones and an old iPod to purge!
Way to go Amy! Doesn’t it feel amazing? I always find that cleaning out the smallest space makes the whole house feel lighter! Thanks for sharing. – Susan
Turned 70 this week and have lived in our home for 20 years. Four bedroom, 3 and 1/2 baths and lots of stuff. We are in the process of down sizing and I am fortunate to have Epilepsy come every month and pick up boxes at the end of the drive way. Yesterday was the day and I had four boxes. Last month I had six. The kids have had to remove any remaining items and reluctantly they have. Youngest daughter has been married 16 years and has two children 12, 10 and she still had lots of things in her bedroom. Last week I cleaned it all out of the closet and had about 6 boxes for her. Her comment as she took them that day was “good thing the garbage man comes tomorrow”. After the door closed behind her I looked at my husband and said. “So we have been storing that for 16 years.” WOW. Then I asked her daughter “Did your mom save the care bear books for your little cousins?” Then I realized that I can;t care. They were gone from my house. Even the two Care Bears that I had made for her at the time she loved them. Can’t think about it. They are gone. Each day I put something in the next waiting box for next months pickup. By the time we get our home sold I will be in good shape for a wonderful move to half the size we have now and half the stuff. Wonderful thoughts and enjoyed reading them. It is so necessary and so healthy. It is a conscious uncoupling of a life. One just has to divorce STUFF. thanks. Makes it easier to move forward.
Linda, It’s always good to hear from you. Happy belated Birthday! Indeed, we find we store things only to pass them along. When we do it really is freeing. Life is lighter! I wish you success on your efforts. I will be doing the same for the months ahead. Looking forward to my load being lighter. Blessings, Susan