Networx

Posted by Linda Merrill | Dec 30, 2009

10 Lies People Tell Themselves About Clutter

The top 10 lies people tell themselves about clutter, and solutions to help you break the clutter cycle:

10. Lie: I'll get to it tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a good day. I'll spend all morning sorting, organizing, and disposing of all this stuff. I'll start with the bills and business stuff. First, I'll pick up some cute file folders and mark everything by bill type, and then... 

Solution: Setting your expectations too high is the demon behind procrastination. Saying you'll tackle everything in one day is a set up for failure. Instead, start small. Instead of saying you'll create a filing system with custom folder labels, start by just opening the stack of bills that's sitting on your kitchen counter. You don't have to pay them now: just open them. Baby steps.

9. Lie: Well, I've been trying to give it away, but no one wants it! Seriously, I keep asking my friends if they want to take up soap making, as I have a whole bin of cool soap molds. What about their kids? It would be a fun vacation project... 

Solution: When in doubt, throw it out. If you don't want it, and no one you know wants it, it's probably a useless item. It's hard to face the fact that you wasted money on a useless item. Whether it sits unused in your house and clutters your life, or if you throw it away, it's a waste. My mom's diet coach says, "Waste equals waste." It's true for both leftover food and unused household objects.

8. Lie: If I put it away, I'll forget about it. But, if it's out in the open, then I will certainly remember to tackle the project (or pay the bill) and THEN I will put it away. 

Solution: If you've ever tried to search for an urgent bill in a pile of mail, you know how easy it is to lose important items in piles. I put all of my urgent items in one folder, and write a to-do list on my calendar. I know where my unpaid bills are, and I won't forget them because I have left myself a note on my calendar.

7. Lie: It's not that bad. If I were really a cluttered person, I wouldn't be able to find anything. I never lose anything! I always know where my car keys and clicker are. How cluttered can I be if I always know which pile things are in? 

Solution: Acknowledging your success is an important part of clearing clutter from your life. The reason you know where your keys are is because you put them in the same place every time you finish using them. Employ that tactic one pile at a time. Start with the mail. Every time the mail arrives, instead of adding it to a pile on the kitchen counter, put it in an accordion file. Say to yourself, "I keep my mail in an accordion file." Suddenly, everything in your house will start to have a place.

6. Lie: Okay, so I haven't worn it this year. You just never know! I could never get rid of those sexy black stilettos that I've never worn! They're Anne Klein and were only $10! The perfect sit-down-and-just-admire-my-shoes event is sure to be in my future! 

Solution: If you've never worn it, even on Halloween, you'll probably never wear it. Give it away. Like I said before, waste equals waste. How do you discern which clothes you actually wear and which ones you don't? Try going two or three weeks without doing laundry. Wear all of your wearable clothes. Whatever is left in your closet at the end of two or three weeks you probably don't need. If you won't wear it even when you're desperate for clean laundry, you'll probably never wear it.

5. Lie: It has sentimental value! I could never get rid of my grandmother's crocheted tablecloth. I know, it's falling apart and I don't know how to fix it... 

Solution: Limit your sentimental items to one suitcase full. Consolidate all of your sentimental items in one suitcase so that they do not clutter your home. Open the suitcase in a year. If you haven't creatively repurposed them by then, consider getting rid of them.

4. Lie: It might fit again. Seriously, just ten more pounds!

Solution: Hold on to one or two really stellar pieces of clothing that you love, but give away the rest. Having a closet full of clothes that don't fit is depressing and mocks your weight loss efforts. Realistically, by the time you fit into your clothes again, they might not be in style. Hold on to the classic blazer you bought at the designer trunk show. Toss the cheap and trendy pieces that are too small. If you can't bear to give away your clothes, and you really are losing weight, pack away everything that doesn't fit and revisit it after you've lost the weight. Opening the box will be like receiving a huge gift, and a great reward for your weight loss.

3. Lie: If I only had a bigger house and more storage. It's just that I have a kitchen with only two useless little drawers. I don't have a proper coat closet! My garage is not attached to my house. If only I had more storage space... 

Solution: The reality of living in a small house is that you have to pare down your belongings to what you actually need and use. If you're prone to collecting clutter, a bigger house will become a big house full of clutter.

2. Lie: I lead a full life and have lot of stuff to prove it! Like they say, "A messy desk is a sign of genius." 

Solution: Some of the most successful businesspeople in the world are also the most organized. Martha Stewart's office is devoid of decorations, and Warren Buffet's office does not even contain a computer. Study the work stations of extremely successful people and follow their leads.

1. Lie: Moi? I'm really not that bad, you're just a neat freak. 

Solution: If you live alone and never have guests, maybe your clutter only effects your own life. If you live with others, your clutter is probably, at least subconsciously, driving them crazy. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step in rectifying it.

Photo credit: Jenna Loves You

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