It’s a new year, with a new opportunity to finally keep your resolution to DECLUTTER. Yes, you’ve been here before. Every time you open the junk drawer in the kitchen and spend 15 useless minutes searching for the AAA battery you need with no luck. Or headed out with only one glove because you couldn’t find the other one in the coat closet.
It’s time to finally #declutter once and for all. To do so, we think it’s pretty important to understand types of clutter, identify your clutter areas and carefully plan to improve them.
Let’s take a look at what kinds of clutter exist (yes, clutter is a more complex topic than you thought), the root causes, and how you can change your clutter-gathering behaviors.
Types of Clutter
Basically, clutter tends to fall in four main buckets:
Situational. Unexpected events or major life changes, like a move, having kids, getting a divorce, a death, job loss or change, can all throw our usual routines out of whack. Maybe your systems no longer work (like, you had a baby and now have linens, diapers and toys piled up to the ceiling). You may be grieving or experiencing health issues and don’t have the energy to keep on top of things like you used to. Or if you’ve just taken on a new job, your training schedule is so hectic right now, you’re lucky if you have time to make the bed much less keep up with your home.
Habitual. This disorganization happens over time. We learn our clutter behaviors as a mechanism to avoid things, often without even realizing it. For example, your mail is always piling up and now you have a huge stack of unopened mail in a drawer. Or you have a spare room with the door constantly closed because it’s become the go-to place to put things “just for now until I can get to it” (spoiler alert, you never get to it).
Emotional. This sentimental clutter is a result of our attachment to feelings, people and things. Like boxes of relatives’ items that you never use or enjoy, but feel obligated to keep, or every single piece of your child’s school work. How about those boxes of home movies and photos that you don’t look at (or can’t even watch if they’re in an older format).
Social/Physical. We live in a society of more is more. The more you have of something the happier, better you’ll be, right? If we love a shoe we buy it in 30 colors. We hold onto clothes thinking that we will eventually fit back into them. We keep old magazines because if they’re on the coffee table, we’ll make time to read them. But instead of making us happy, or entertaining us, we’re actually creating anxiety and stress by having TOO MUCH of everything.
Chances are, you have clutter that fits into one (or maybe all four) of these buckets. How does this happen? Let’s get to the root cause.
What causes clutter?
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling like your home or workspace is out of control. Going from one extra pair of shoes by the door to a closet you can’t even walk into is a slippery slope. Here are some top reasons clutter has accumulated:
Understanding what is clutter and what is not. A pile of papers on your coffee table you need to go through (which you rarely go through)=clutter. A file folder with papers that need to be addressed at your regular weekly time=organized process.
Not knowing how long to keep items. That suit you haven’t worn for two years, get rid of it already!
Lack of designated storage, or not knowing the best way to store things at all. Sorry, pushing things under the bed is not “designated storage.”
Not having systems and routines. This is major. No routine = a disorganized pile everywhere you turn.
Keeping items or systems that clearly don’t work for you. If you plan to get groceries every Monday, but it’s your busiest work day of the week, it’s time to rethink your gameplan.
Holding onto things when you need to let go. This one is tough. Take a deep exhale, and say it with me: “let it go.”
OK, “I get it,” you say. But how can I change my behaviors?
Here’s where we get to work and your space becomes a place for you to enjoy and feel good in. This year, take these few steps to make a big difference:
Start to notice your habitual, automatic clutter behaviors. Awareness is key. What do you feel is constantly in disarray, and how did it get there?
Identify the source. Ask yourself why this is a continual problem in your life? What would you really like this area to look like? What behavior do I need to change to make this happen?
Once you’ve identified the behavior, change it! Behave the way you want to operate to achieve your desired outcome.
Organizing is a process of trial and error. It takes time, effort, and a whole lot of self awareness. If the pile starts again, try another process.
Reflect on your wins, losses and overall results. Continue to work and make changes until you notice the systems working. We’ve put together a sheet to help you track your behaviors, processes and success.
You can do it and Synced Spaces can help!
If you don’t know where to start, or how to identify what’s causing your organizational stress, we’ve created a downloadable guide to identify, assess and change behaviors and start living a life that will lead you to less clutter and more productivity.
The steps outlined in the guide will help you fix small behaviors, identify key issues and get you past that daunting starting point. You’ll also reflect on your goals, put a process in place, then check in and see how it’s going and tweak where needed.
Give these steps a try for one month and see how you feel.
Decluttering is as much about your inner world as your outer world. Free your mind from worry and anxiety while you free your kitchen table of all the jackets piled up on top. Download the PDF guide today, check our blog for more inspiration and tips, or schedule a personal consultation. We believe in you. You got this.