Six Tips on Clearing Clutter

Earlier this year, we put an addition on the back of the house to serve as my studio. It is full of light and air and usually pretty high vibrational energy, though it's not always the tidiest spot in the house. 

Now, when I first started furnishing the room, it literally had my worktable and chair in the center, my teal IKEA cart with some supplies, and my easel in the corner. Everything else was boxes, baskets, and piles of jumble. Over time, my sweet Morris built me a table that I just love (and which isn't being as well-utilized as it could be, but I'll get there), and we brought in another cart and an IKEA shelf unit that had been stashed in the garage when I moved in with my sweetheart a few years ago. 

The shelf unit had it's top shelf removed to work in the garage under the electrical box, and it came in the house just that way. You can see it below on the left, in a photo taken just after I tidied it (and before too much junk got piled on the floor in front of it). But of course, we bought a bunch more canvases, and my card rack (for greeting card display) needed a home, and eventually it was all I could do to reach the shelves, I had to stand so far away from it. 

And that's just not good feng shui, y'all. Also not good housekeeping, probably. And likely unsafe, since it affect the pathway to the sliding door to the outside, the frame of which you can see to the left on both pictures.

Anyway, I spent weeks (probably months) trying to figure out better storage in the room. And one day I was meditating out on the patio, as I am wont to do, when I opened my eyes (literally and figuratively) and it occurred to me that I could add the top shelf back. In fact, I have several extra shelves and their hardware, come to that. So yesterday, I added that top shelf, and lo -- everything that had been on the floor made it up onto the shelves, and my dreaming Buddha found a perch, and the whole studio feels lighter and clearer again, because all that heavy energy that was being pulled to the floor got moving again.

I get that it doesn't  involve rocket science, but I was quite literally stumped and frustrated for quite a while before the extremely simple solution presented itself one day. And I am willing to bet that you have experienced something similar in your own space.

Which raises the question Where is your problem area? Do you have an area that is constantly cluttered? Often clutter exists because the items don't have a home anywhere. 

Here are some tips to help you with your clutter:

  • First, ask whether any of the clutter is actually trash. (This happens with me all the time - an empty envelope I don't need, receipts, etc.) If it IS, then throw it out.
  • Second, ask whether it is something you need to file in some way. If you have an envelope because you wanted to copy down a friend's address, put that address in your address book and get rid of the envelope. If it is a receipt, statement, or bill that you need to file, FILE IT. 
  • Third, ask yourself if it's there because it's broken and needs to be fixed. If so, decide right now if you really want to get it fixed or you want to throw it out. If the former, then fix it or schedule a time to take it somewhere to be repaired. If the latter, throw it out.
  • Fourth, ask yourself if it's there because you mean to donate it or otherwise give it away. If it's a gift for someone, either give it to them or find a place in your house that you want to keep gifts and store it there. If it's a donation (or you are not sure you want to keep it but haven't decided yet), put it in a donation box. You can box up all the "maybes" in one box and stick them in a closet and if you don't feel compelled to rescue them within two or three months, donate what is left in that box. 
  • Fifth, ask if the item has a place it's "supposed to" live. If it does, put it there. If it doesn't, think about where you would like it to be. Can you find a shelf or drawer that it belongs on? A box, bin, or basket to contain it with its friends? Sometimes it's just that easy. Sometimes . . . it isn't. In that case, it may take some thinking or planning, or the purchase of a storage container. But hey -- if you've gotten this far, then hopefully you don't have too many un-homed items left.

One last bit of advice

 A throwback photo from when I first moved in with Morris.

A throwback photo from when I first moved in with Morris.

Above you see the note I wrote for myself (and posted in plain sight) when I was decluttering and downsizing and moving in with my sweetheart (who is now my husband of nearly 21 months). I had one sign at my old house, and one sign here, and I still have a copy of this posted in our walk-in closet where I can see it every day. It helped for me to have guidelines or criteria with which to make decisions. A hairbrush has purpose; a piece of jewelry might bring pleasure or beauty. Some things hit the trifecta, like a beautiful flower vase. But these guidelines really helped me with the sort of clutter where I had to decide whether to keep it or get rid of it (by donation, gift, recycling, or trash). 

And invariably, getting rid of some clutter will allow energy to flow a bit better in your space, and leave room for positive things to show up.

I  hope this helps at least one reader out there. I'd love to hear what space or clutter you're working on! Oh--and if you are at all interested in getting updates in your own inbox now and then, please sign up for my email list!