Struggling with clutter

December 28, 2021


When we’re young (I’m talking to you, millennials!) our experience with homeownership extends to our parents’ houses and a dorm or apartment. Plenty of room for all our “stuff.” When it’s time to move into a house or apartment, that transition may prove difficult.

It’s the same with downsizing after a long life in a family home. We have all this stuff but nowhere to put it.

My sister-in-love is such a disciplined organizer that she does not bring anything into her home without giving something up. Not a pair of shoes, a sweater or a piece of furniture. I bow to her discipline on this. Me? Can’t seem to do that.

Officially, clutter is about scattered or disordered things that get in our way or reduce our effectiveness.

Not only can clutter have negative effects on the property, but it can also affect our minds and don’t I know it. Despite all best intentions, piles of “stuff” can take up valuable territory — physically and even emotionally.

So why do we clutter?

1. We don’t understand what constitutes clutter: The definition of clutter varies from person to person. For some, it’s a mess. However, a good rule of thumb is that if an item is broken or not useful, aesthetically pleasing or sentimental, it might be time to donate or toss it. Because it’s, well, CLUTTER!

2. We can’t let go: Many of us hold on to a specific piece of clothing or home item if it’s sentimental, a gift or save it just-in-case. Emotions can make belongings feel irreplaceable, but we can and should recognize when something is ready to go.

3. Lack of organizational routine: Most clutter piles get bigger simply because they become part of the general landscape.  It’s easier to just drop stuff instead of putting it away immediately. “I’ll put it away later.” Sigh. “Later” gets me every time.  I know that implementing a functional routine means clutter won’t have time to accumulate. And yet.

4. Impulse shopping: “Add to cart” sound familiar? It can be a recipe for big-time clutter. Don’t buy sale items or hobby supplies if you’re not sure where to store them or when they’ll be used. Buying on impulse may give instant gratification, but it probably won’t help you in the long run.

Whether it’s your longtime home or a new smaller space, it’s important to analyze your living style and determine how the physical space can help you, not work against you. To learn more about the psychological effects of clutter and what you can do to combat it, check out these helpful tips, below.

12 comments on “Struggling with clutter
  1. Mel Studer says:

    I am working through my paper crapola! Nothing worse in my opinion! I like that you said there is a difference between organizing and decluttering!

  2. Lynda Beth Unkeless says:

    Just yesterday I wrote on my weekly “to do” list: clear all unnecessary clutter
    from 2021 before 2022 begins! ?
    It’s a never-ending challenge!
    Happy 2022, Carol!?

  3. I remember when we moved to this house thinking “so much space, I’ll never come close to filling it.” Yup, not just full, but stuffed.

  4. Alana says:

    Almost 35 years in this house, and yes, the clutter. I’m big on clinging to things for emotional reasons, too. You’d think that having to downsize my late mother in law twice would have taught me better. I know the “I’ll get to it” reasoning too well.

  5. Having moved 27 times in my life I’ve gotten good at releasing objects to the Universe. I always try to either donate to a worthy cause or sell items I can. It feels good to start fresh although there are always some things that are hard to give up.

  6. Lauren says:

    I literally just cleaned out my (shared) home office. It took me 2 days. Then my husband just informed me he has to work from home. Back to the dining room table I go. Ug. I tried to de-clutter.

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