Clutter builds up for a number of reasons, but one of the most common is poor circulation. To illustrate this point, think about the human heart. The heart is the center of the body, and therefore it is important for blood to be constantly flowing into and out of it. Problems arise when there are blockages in the veins, arteries, and valves that keep the blood from moving and interfere with the heart’s ability to perform its function.
In much the same way, your home/office is the center of your life, and items are constantly moving into and out of your space. As long as an item enters, performs its function, and either moves out or gets used up, the home functions well. Unfortunately, physical objects often get “stuck” in our space, piling up and creating blockages. When this happens, the objects become a hindrance to, rather than an asset for, daily living.
Note that I’m not advocating an empty space. Just as the heart would be useless without blood, we all need supplies and resources to nourish ourselves and complete our tasks. The key is to establish systems so that our belongings serve our needs and don’t pile up. In other words, it is critical to prioritize our easily accessible space for objects that serve our current needs, and then keep everything else moving… either to the trash, a charity, a reseller, or a final storage destination.
So how do we tell the difference between what is needful and what is obstructive? Here are some examples:
|Supplies for a craft or hobby in which we are actively engaged
|Supplies for a hobby or sport we previously enjoyed (or feel like we might return to “someday,”) but are not currently pursuing
|Paperwork for the current year
|Tax paperwork for 5 years ago sitting in a prime desk drawer
|Clothing that fits us now
|Large quantities of clothing that we hope to fit into when we lose weight
|Dishes and serving pieces we use
|Sets of dishes to pass on to children who have expressed disinterest
|Books we are currently reading or frequently reference
|Old college textbooks or back issues of magazines that we never look at because we Google the information when we need it
|A box or two of memorabilia that we enjoy pulling out and looking at
|An attic piled with boxes of memorabilia that we haven’t looked at in 20 years
|A trophy or award that we worked hard for and which brings back wonderful memories
|A pile of “participation” medals, ribbons, or trophies that hold little sentimental value
|Toys the children love playing with
|Toys the children never touch, but we spent a lot of money on and feel guilty about giving away
|Electronic devices, charging cords and keys that we use
|A drawer full of old keys and cords we can’t identify, but feel we should keep “just in case”
|A couple of boxes for shipping and gift giving
|An attic full of empty boxes kept out of a vague anxiety about always having “the right size box" if we need to ship something
|A shirt and loose button you will sew back on within the week
|A garage full of broken items that we have no idea how to fix, but feel that we should
|A greeting card with a meaningful, handwritten note from a friend or loved one
|A box or bag full of cards that were written by Hallmark and signed “Love, ____________”
Odds are, much of your clutter is simply a pileup of items that have outlived their usefulness. Whenever an object comes in, quickly move it to where it will serve its intended purpose, such as an action file, a drawer, a shelf or a container. Periodically, go through these places and remove anything that is no longer active, freeing your space to hold what matters now.
If you walk around your space today, what blockages can you identify? Are you ready to clear them out?