How to avoid making more clutter every time we walk in the door.
How many times do we walk into a room with something in our hand, our minds going in a thousand directions, and set something down in a random place? How many times is the background thought as we do this clutter-causing action, "I'll just put this here for now"? There's seemingly small but very powerful thought shift that can change the future of clutter in our homes and other spaces.
Random Acts of Clutter
It's taken years of mental training in my own mind to stop randomly putting down all those odd things I bring into the house. Things like...
MAIL - things we might want to read
GIFTS - things we don't really want or need but were given by someone we love so we feel we should keep them
RANDOM ITEMS - things we think we don't have any idea what to do with or think we don't have time to deal with
KEYS, PURSE, WALLET - things we have to know where to find but can spend sooo much time looking for when they don't have a solid home. A moment of inattention can lose them in our clutter.
I invite you to shift from thinking
'I'll put this here for now' to
'I'll put this where it belongs right now'.
You can tweak that thought to whatever works for you...I'll take care of this right now, or I'm doing this now...find what works for your brain.
This seems like just a tiny transition of words, right?
It IS a tiny shift, but for some of us (like me) it takes steps and daily thought work...and maybe the creation of a drill sergeant or other director in our minds.
How to Shift
To make the shift in my own mind and life, this is what I do every time I walk in the door or around the house with my hands full of random things.
If these sound strange, but if you struggle with clutter, just try these for a couple weeks...
Be aware of my thoughts
Watch what what my hands are doing.
Make a conscious decision about where I put every single thing in my hands.
Make homes for what I often find in my hands that are SO EASY TO PUT THINGS AWAY that it's dumb for me not to.
Every bit of conscious action we take is a win!
Every thought that supports the life we want is a win!
Even with my thought shift, guess what? I still have clutter!
While I'd love to tell you I never have clutter and I'm always neat and tidy...I'm just not. And I'm totally ok with that! (Which has also taken a lot of thought work).
I trained with Marie Kondo but I am definitely not her. I'm a messy human with a wildly creative mind (hence the name TidyWild), and...I don't like to clean.
I'm a busy, messy human who doesn't always feel like making my house look like a magazine, and that's 100% ok.
BUT...I have SO MUCH LESS CLUTTER in my life and I'm not bringing new clutter in!
What to do with not-so-random items?
After watching myself for years, I've built habits little by little, bit by bit, that help me deal with the not-so-random things. I started by creating a consistent home for these:
Receipts I don't need (straight to the trash)
Reusable shopping bags
Projects I plan to work on very soon
This means they ALWAYS go in their homes, no exceptions. No more "Just for Now" thoughts are allowed with those items.
Yes, it's like a drill sergeant sometimes... "NOPE! That does NOT go there! Do NOT put that wallet down until it goes in your purse!" "NO! That pile of mail does NOT go on the kitchen counter all willy nilly, pick out the recycling RIGHT NOW and put it in the recycling bin, then put your and the hubby's mail ONLY where it belongs!" But most of the time it doesn't have to be so drill sergeant-y. Because it's become habit, the drill sergeant only comes out when I'm really tired or feeling overwhelmed in my life (yes, this has been often lately).
Some major changes I made to make life easier for my busy self:
Junk mail NEVER lands on my counters - it goes straight into recycling or trash bins, which I've moved to super easy access spots near where I bring in the mail.
My purse ALWAYS goes on a hook I put right inside the door that leads to where I park my car.
Keys ALWAYS go in a specific pocket in my purse.
My wallet goes in a specific pocket in my purse.
Reusable shopping bags ALWAYS go by the door nearest my car, all of them inside the biggest one.
Projects I'm doing very soon go in one of 2 spots - no more piles of projects everywhere!
Just doing it now means I have
SO MUCH MORE TIME & ENERGY
in my life to do the things I want to do!
I now have time and energy to cook healthy whole food meals and share with loved ones, garden (yes, I garden in the winter), plan trips, raise money for causes/people I believe in, paint, walk, call a friend, spend time with my Mum, think of ways to support you in your organizing endeavors...
And you know what? You can find this freedom, too. If you've already found freedom from clutter, high five! If you're still working on it, high five! If you feel like you're buried under mountains of clutter, high five! We're all right where we're supposed to be, and we're all in this together. If you aren't already paying attention to your mind when you walk in the door or from room to room with things in your hands, this is a message to your mind... START PAYING ATTENTION TO 'JUST FOR NOW' THOUGHTS. When you hear that thought, watch what you do next and see if it adds to or prevents clutter.
Then come back to these steps and start implementing what works for you.
And let me know how it goes!
Spring Courtright is a professional home organizer, organizing coach and owner of TidyWild Organizing LLC.
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