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How to Say Goodbye to Clutter and Hello to Peace in Your Home

Updated on March 28, 2014

12 years ago I moved with my family from England to California. My 3 boys were 1, 3 and 5. We had a lot of stuff and a seemingly endless amount of toys and baby items. But when you are moving you look at your stuff differently. We had to pay a lot to move stuff across the Atlantic Ocean, so I determined we were only moving what was absolutely necessary. I had 6 weeks’ notice to get myself and my household ready for the move. I planned on getting rid of half the toys, half the books and half the clothes. In reality I think I got rid of more than that....

We gave our stuff to the moving company, took 2 suitcases and 3 children and arrived in the US with the amount you’d take on vacation. We rented a house and lived in it with not much stuff for 8 weeks before the things that we’d shipped arrived.

Those 8 weeks were bliss. The children played even though they didn’t have any toys. I did do laundry frequently and we did have to share plates, but I didn’t spend hours tidying the house and so we had a life. I learned that we don’t need to have a lot of stuff. In fact, too much stuff can stop us from enjoying life. I’ve been a minimalist ever since.

So, What’s Wrong with Clutter?

Clutter can make us stay home to deal with it, or it can make us leave the house so we don’t see it. It can certainly stop us inviting friends over.

What is clutter?

Clutter is when we have too much in too small a place. It is a crowded and untidy collection of things, it is things that don’t bring you joy, that you don’t love and don’t need.

Clutter can be anywhere, mostly we see clutter, but sometimes we hide it in our closets. We can have cluttered cars and even cluttered days. It is something that we don’t want and don’t need and the only solution is to get rid of it, let it leave the house. Clutter in the house is like weeds in the garden, it gradually grows until you suddenly realize that it’s taking over.

With too much clutter we can’t find things, and so we buy extra, thus adding to the current situation of mess. It’s hard to think clearly when surrounded with a house full of clutter.

Where do I start?

Flat surfaces gain clutter. We put something on a flat surface, thinking it’s temporary, but it stays there. Suddenly it’s surrounded by other things we think are temporary and we have a clutter spot. Without even trying more and more places become spots of clutter and soon the whole house is cluttered.

What do we do about it?

Have a time, preferably at the same time every day, when you attack your clutter. Reduce your clutter for 15 or 30 minutes a day. For some it will be first thing in the morning or last thing at night. For me it’s 4pm and just before I make dinner. If you do this every day for a month, you and your family will notice a difference.

How do we deal with it?

You will need 3 boxes labeled, “Give Away", "Throw Away", and "Put Away". When your 15 or 30 minutes are over, put your “Throw Away” box in the garbage bin, put your “Give Away” box in your car for the next time you are near a thrift store and go round the house with your “Put Away” box and put things in their right places. Don’t leave the boxes lying around and add to the clutter.

Just attack a small area each day, don’t attempt a big project, do a small one every day.

Ask yourself if you really want to keep it, if you love it and if you use it. If you don’t use it and don’t want it, let it leave the house.

What room do I start in?

Start in the kitchen and your bedroom. If you have a messy kitchen you won’t cook decent meals. If you have a messy bedroom you won’t sleep well at night. With good food and good rest, you’ll be more productive in the other rooms.

Don’t ask yourself what you want to get rid of, ask yourself what you want to keep. If you have too many of one thing, get rid of the excess.

You can’t organize clutter, it has to leave the house.

The Blessings of Less

With less stuff you won’t lose things so often, you’ll be able to find lost things and you won’t have much to tidy away. When you start other family members will often join in. You’ll be able to invite your friends over without crisis cleaning.

How do I get rid of stuff?

Firstly, is it worth selling? Can you get someone to sell it for you on consignment? You could donate it, or give it to friends, give it to a thrift store or freecycle it.

Make getting rid of things a habit. Have a place where you put things you don’t want, such as box in the garage.

Don’t stop Keep decluttering, you won’t regret it. The advantage? Peace in your home.

On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is totally messy and 5 is perfection, how cluttered is your house?

See results

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