Did you ever notice that clutter seems to attract clutter? When you plop something “here for now” does that one item seem to multiply? Often a few out-of-place items seem to give us permission to continue adding to the jumble. We drop the bag of items from the store by the door because we don’t feel like putting them away right now. We set the mail on the counter “for now” because we don’t have time to deal with it. We dump the laundry from the dryer onto the couch because we don’t have time to fold it just yet. Pretty soon our home looks like a chaotic mess because our habits have allowed the clutter to creep up on us.
I’ve previously written about the importance and challenges of finishing the job to completion. In his fascinating book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes “the broken window” hypothesis which states “disorder invites even more disorder – a small deviation from the norm can set into motion a cascade of vandalism and criminality.” Certainly clutter is not criminal, but it sure can leave you feeling like a victim. It can insidiously creep into our homes and take over.
Rather than allowing clutter to overtake your life, I challenge you (and myself) to pay attention to the habits that are causing your “clutter creep” and nip them in the bud. Have a place for things, and put them there right away – don’t fall into that here for now habit. If you have trouble deciding where something goes, remember the two basic organizing principles: 1. Store things near where they’re used, and 2. Store similar things together.
Adopt the habit of putting things away rather than putting them down. One of my clients actually made a sign for her kitchen to remind her of that goal. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to put it there?” When you catch yourself saying you don’t have time to put something away, consider how long it would really take. Can it possibly take more than 20 second to hang up your coat? Does it take more than a minute or two to toss the bedspread on your bed? Would it take more than a minute to pull the receipts out of your purse and put them where they belong? I’d love to hear how you’ve stopped clutter in its tracks.
Here’s to your life of simplicity, harmony and freedom,