The REAL Problem With Clutter: 3 Ways To Kick The Habit

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So, I grew up in a house that was, let's say, lived in. 

It was an older home, most likely beautiful in its' youth, but after 5 kids and as many decades, it had seen better days.  More importantly than the wear and tear of the kids on the home what I most remember growing up is that there was always stuff around.

Now, I know that term for all the papers, books, boxes and more is clutter and I've come to loath the stuff. 

Yes, loath is the correct word.

My favorite quote about clutter comes from Peter Walsh who is the organization specialist/interior decorator who helped clutter overwhelmed folks on television shows near and far, he says:

"Clutter isn't just the stuff in your closet. It's anything between you and the life you want to be living."

Growing up, clutter kept me from inviting my friends over, it made me feel worse at too many items collected dust which kicked up my indoor allergies and it even caused conflicts between my parents when one was more interested in getting rid of junk than the other was. 

Now, I see clutter as the enemy. It's trying to rob me of my peace and my sanity.  There's been research recently to suggest that clutter can actually contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.  I also know that clutter steals my time and I don't know about you, but I don't have any of that to waste for sure. 

If clutter is a problem for you, here's a few quick tips to take back your home, and make it into the sanctuary you deserve.

Control the papers or they will control you. This is probably the hardest one in my house because I constantly get papers coming to me from what feels like every different direction. Paper is always one of three things, something you want to remember, something you need to remember or something you'd be fine forgetting.  The key to keeping paper clutter at bay is knowing which items belong where.  Things you want to remember should be stored appropriately.  Keepsakes, or the want to remembers, can go in a treasure chest or frame. Dates and important papers, the need to remembers, can be stored electronically for convenience or stored in a fireproof safe. And the things you're fine forgetting should go directly to the shred bin, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Mental Clutter is the worst. A focused and clear mind is a gift from God, without it everything feels ten times worse.  Being distracted by frustrating thoughts, too many commitments and even worries is what I call mental clutter. It's the worst because most of the time you don't see it, only the effects, which makes it harder to pinpoint and solve.  Choosing slow is my favorite strategy for combating mental clutter.    It wasn't long ago I was on the sidelines of the soccer field listening to another mom talk about her jam packed schedule.  She wore her busyness like a badge of honor thinking somehow that the busier she was the more valuable she would be. I literally thanked God that moment for the peace that I have in saying no to thinks that don't fit into my plans. I guard my mental space like a hawk to make sure nothing can move in and take away my peace.

The best answer is simple. You just need to choose simple everyday. Choose less. Choose slow. Choose simple. Don't worry about comparison, or getting more options for your money, the truth is having too much, too many choices, it all combines to make it harder for us to function.  Eliminate some of your strain and choose simple where ever you can.

If you're looking for more tips on clutter busting, check out Kathy Lipp's book Clutter Free, you won't be disappointed.