To reduce clutter in our homes
and in our lives, we must recognize it. It may be the newspaper
that takes days to get refolded then recycled. It can be the
barrage of paper that arrives in our mailboxes. It might be
visible phone books and appliance operating instructions. Clutter
can be anything we’ve collected that serves little function
in our lives. Or, clutter can be functional items that serve
no aesthetic purpose.
Clutter is invited or not. For example, we decide whether
to maintain a subscription to newspapers and magazines. One
alternative is to have periodicals delivered to our local library.
Another option is to read articles on-line in an electronic
Although we have little choice over what comes
in our mail box, we do have options about what we do with those
materials. If we look forward to controlling our mail then,
generally, we’ll find processing it a satisfactory experience.
Most bulk-mailed items need not be opened. They can be recycled.
Try it. It feels good to not clutter our minds with offers
for things we really don’t need or want.
Sometimes, stuff we save for a good purpose can get out of
control. It can be the coupons we’re clipping for groceries
and toiletries. It can be the articles we’re saving for our
next project. It can be the materials we use to ship packages.
In areas such as these, it’s best to devote specific spaces
to each purpose. For example, coupons can be organized in a
handy file that can be carried into the store. Similarly, establish
file folders for ideas on vacations, home improvements, garden
plantings, craft projects, recipes, et cetera. A file cabinet
will keep this information at our fingertips—so much easier
to find than if the clippings were stacked on top of one another
on a tabletop or shelf. When stuff such as packing materials
outgrows its allotted space, reorganize and recycle or discard
the excess. Often, small businesses that ship products will
welcome extra boxes. Attempt to keep on-hand several sizes
of boxes and a small amount of bubble wrap or Styrofoam peanuts.
Items such as phone books or operating instructions need to
be handy to the appliance. Rooms, however, looks better if
such clutter is out of sight. Try to locate these materials
in the closest drawer or cabinet.
Look at drawers, cabinets, and closets with an analytical
eye. It can be an enlightening experience to ask: “Why is this
here?”, “Am I using this?”, “Do I need to keep this any longer?”,
“How much is enough?” It’s amazing how much stuff can be let
Another tactic to prevent clutter is to not buy it. When shopping,
ask: “Do I really need this item?” Whether it’s a necessity
or a nicety, know what item it’s replacing.
The trick with clutter appears to be recognizing it and controlling
it—not letting it control us. As with most material things,
the more clutter we have the less freedom we enjoy.