The clutter in our lives impedes not only our ability to acquire more junk, but its mere existence also carries a noticeable psychological burden. Here’s how you can avoid all that.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to clearing the clutter from our lives is the familiarity we inevitably gain by surrounding ourselves with it in the first place. Even though the sight of unnecessary junk strewn about our basements, garages, bedrooms, and kitchens can be frustrating at given moments, our daily lives often move about unaffected by it. As a result, we get used to seeing things ‘aclutter’ and we simply go about our daily routine, learning to navigate around the clutter, as opposed to dealing with it.
As one that relishes a clutter-free living and workspace, I am generally lazy about doing anything about it. My list of excuses is long and I’m often not in the mood to undertake such organizational challenges that I’m certain will ratchet up the tension in my already fragile household. My wife and I both are not neat people. We like neat things and we are pretty ‘clean’ people, but overall things just fall where they may and we get to them when we get to them.
As a result, I’ve got a basement full of boxes, children’s toys, exercise equipment, holiday decorations, old audio visual equipment, etc. It’s really quite a mess down there. Just off the basement is the laundry room, where enough clothes for dozens of people sit in piles on the floor and on tables, unfolded. Both washer and dryer are full, mind you, with the most recent attempt to get caught up on the impossible task of laundry in our home. In some fairness, we do have two small children, very little sleep, and we generally take pretty good care of things in other parts of our lives.
The one area of glaring weakness, however, is the clutter. And it’s all over the place. We struggle to maintain clear horizontal space in our home for hours, let alone days or weeks. If one of us spends some time clearing all the counter space in the kitchen of old mail, school materials, various writing instruments, coupons, etc., that space will immediately become occupied with more of the same or some other item that was never intended to be placed there for more than a moment. But once the handheld camcorder gets put down in that spot in the corner on the counter, it’s very possible that it will stay there for a month or more―or until someone decides that it might be better placed on the dining room table or some other inappropriate location.
And while I’m not likely to be motivated to change things anytime soon, I’m pretty sure I’ve devoted enough thought to the problem to come up with the best approach for someone in my situation. The idea of devoting a weekend or several hours on a Saturday to ‘decluttering’ is pretty absurd in my world. Since our problem revolves around items that my wife and I have differing views on, we must both be present to make any wholesale progress on the problem. That would require childcare for our two young children in order to devote time to decluttering. And I can assure you, if we have childcare for both of our kids at the same time, decluttering doesn’t crack the Top 10 on our To Do List.
Instead, I think the approach should be micro-decluttering. One item or box of items at a time. Just grab a box that is no larger than a box that would hold a case of bottled beer. Start with that and go fill it up with a few items that are not being kept in the proper place. With such a small load, it’s likely that I could either make the determination as to where these things should be or sidle up to my wife for a minute to get her input and then take care of it. Once that box has been addressed, that’s it. Same thing the next day and so on and so forth. Eventually, I think things would start to turn around for me. It’s just a matter of breaking the ice and heading down the right path. Is now the time? We’ll see.