Some types of clutter are more obvious than others, but everyone has clutter of some kind. It’s inevitable. Inescapable. Impossible to avoid.
The reason for this is that everything is in a state of change. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, about 50 million cells in your body will have died, become clutter, been swept away, and replaced. From the cellular level up, everything morphs into clutter at some point and needs to be cleared to make way for the new.
Clutter clearing is a lifelong process
Just as the clearing systems in your body will cause health problems of some kind if they break down, so clutter in your home will cause stuckness in some aspect of your life if allowed to build up. So clutter clearing is not a one-off event. It’s an essential skill that needs to be learned, then repeated again and again.
There are levels to it too, which I often liken to peeling layers of an onion. You clear one layer of clutter and your home immediately feels better. That allows you to see things through different eyes, and pretty soon you’re noticing other things you didn’t think of as clutter before, but clearly they are. Out they go, and another layer appears, and perhaps another. And with each layer that’s revealed and cleared, the process gets easier and easier.
After that, the trick is to never let clutter accumulate again but to create daily habits to tidy and clutter clear as you go.
Key tidying habits
My best advice is to start with one or two key tidying habits and then, after these are firmly established, add more.
Two key tidying habits to begin with are:
At least once a day, tidy any clothes that are lying around
If you have a lot of clothes lying around your home, I’m not suggesting you gather them all up, throw them in a junk room and close the door. The technique is, at least once a day, to pick them up, put them back where they belong if they’re still wearable, or put them in the laundry bin if they need washing. The optimum time to do this is last thing at night or, if that’s not possible, first thing in the morning. (Of course, for this to work well, you’ll need to have a good laundry system in place too. I’ll write a separate article about that soon.)
At least once a day, clean and tidy your kitchen sink and surrounding areas
The kitchen is the heart of nourishment in your home, so keeping it clean and tidy will improve the feel of your entire space. Ideally, clean up after every meal but, if time is limited, then at least clean up at the end of the day so you can start each morning afresh.
Key clutter clearing habits
Tidying is good, but it’s not enough. It will keep your home ordered, but not up to date.
Clutter clearing is the process of sorting through your belongings to keep your things up to date with who you are and where you’re headed in life. It’s about retaining the items that will help you on your way and releasing those that will hold you back.
A good analogy for this is that when it’s time for a tree to shed its leaves, it doesn’t try to hold on to the old ones. That would interfere with the cycle of life and bring about its death. The same principle operates in every part of your body, and can be applied equally well to your possessions and your home.
Two key clutter clearing habits to start with are:
When something new comes in, something old goes out
Adopting this principle will mean that your clutter never increases. However, if you have far too much stuff to begin with, an even better motto would be: When something new comes in, X old things go out (X being a number between two and infinity that you choose of you own free will).
Do a little each day to keep the clutter away
The way this works is that when you put something away, you take a few moments to scan the space for anything you no longer use or need. If you find anything, don’t wait for your next big clutter clearing purge. Pull it out and let it go right then and there. Keep some boxes on hand to use for anything you want to recycle, donate to charity, and so on.
Start incredibly small
There’s a lot more to tidying and clutter clearing than this but there’s a great wisdom in starting small and building on those successes.
If life has got very out-of-control and the techniques in this article seem too much for you at this time, then start incredibly small. Aim to wash just one plate at the end of each day. Or pick up just one item of clothing and put it away. That’s all.
Most people find this useful trick is all they need to get them started. The task itself is easy. The getting started is the part they really need help with. And one plate or piece of clothing tends to lead to another, then another.
After you’ve established these new habits yourself, teach them to your children. You’ll set them up for life.
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