Dealing with clutter is a constant battle for many of us. Clutter can creep up on us, it drains us mentally even if we’re not directly thinking about the clutter, and it wastes our time and money. A binge decluttering session won’t be enough to keep clutter at bay forever; we’ve got to change our mental habits. Here are ten new ways of looking at clutter.
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 24, 2004 12:00 AM
PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER: Valerie Cantrell, The UNpackers, (602) 361-6244 or theUNpackers.com. Specialty: helping clients organize before moving.
THE PROBLEM: Rachel Garrard had used a small storage room off the kitchen of her north Phoenix home as a catchall. The room, which had a row of cabinets, also served as an overflow pantry, closet for her husband Richard’s work supplies, and place for auto supplies and home-improvement tools.
“My husband loves a neat, straight house,” said Garrard, who concedes that she struggles with organization and wants to get her home in order before a possible move. Also, she and her husband respond differently to clutter: “He feels so much more at peace (without clutter),” she said. “I can live with clutter. Part of my brain turns it off.”
THE SOLUTION: Cantrell pulled items from cabinets and countertops and placed them in various piles — auto supplies, donations, bath supplies, food and the like — for Garrard to look through and edit. The large black garbage bag she hung on the door for throwaway items was filled and replaced by another.
After several hours of pitching, grouping items and moving others to storage places near where those items are used, the cabinets were clutter-free. One cabinet was the designated food pantry. Pet food, bandages and such were moved to another cabinet. Small items similar in use were placed in small plastic containers.
THE OUTCOME: “It’s not the same house,” said Garrard, who was especially thrilled with the organizing tips, such as placing like items together, she learned from Cantrell. “It’s a matter of training your kids and training yourself to put (things) back where you got them.” Also, “you have to be willing to pitch things. You can’t go into it thinking you can keep everything.”
Don’t hide items behind other things. Don’t store items in bags. “If you can’t see it, you won’t use it,” Cantrell said. “You’ll buy more. You’ll waste money.”
Always return items to the place you got them when you’re done using them. “If you don’t take 15 minutes at the end of the day, you will spend two hours (cleaning the clutter) on the weekend or the whole day at the end of the month,” Cantrell said.