Pack Rat Blues

clutter reduction in progress

Many people find it nicer to live in a place that is clear of clutter. So, reducing clutter (also called "decluttering" or "uncluttering") can be one way to improve our homes.

Decide what's clutterEdit

The amount of contents that feel comfortable versus "overstuffed" varies as a matter of individual and cultural preference. For instance in the Victorian upper class, knickknacks on all available surfaces were stylish. See the article on clutter for other examples. Once you've come to some consensus about which things are clutter (as opposed to useful or beautiful objects that are where they belong), then you can begin to get rid of the things you don't want at all, and to find places for the "good stuff" to belong.

Before - facing Southwest

some stuff looking for a home (the "before")

Decluttering is part of many cleaning and organizing strategies.

Get rid of what you don't want or needEdit

Some things just don't belong in your home. They may be desired by someone else (sell, give, donate). Or they may just need to be disposed (trash, recycle, compost). If you don't want it, don't need it or don't like it, consider removing it from your home. Fewer things mean fewer things to take care of and clean.

A place for everythingEdit


A place for everything, and everything in its place.
-- old folk saying

It sounds obvious after you think about it, but if a thing doesn't have a place where it belongs, it will always be where it doesn't belong. So, if you want to keep something, decide where it belongs. Sometimes this is as simple as deciding which cabinet the glasses go in, and sometimes it requires more thought and maybe new ways to store things.

When deciding where things should go, consider where they'll be used, who will be using them, frequency of use, when it's used, what other things are used at the same time and special storage needs. So, if the good china is always used in the dining room, is there a sideboard or china cabinet there that could be used? If only some members of the house use something, could it go in their room(s). If children should have access, is it on a low shelf or other accessible place? If it's something that's used only once a year, can it be tucked away in less accessible storage (leaving room in the more accessible storage for more frequently used items)? And if it's for a specific time or holiday, could it be stored with other things used in the same timeframe? If you always use a specific bowl for your Groundhog's Day party and only then, perhaps it could be stored with other items used for that party rather than with the other bowls in the easy to reach kitchen shelves? Some things need to be kept dry, or can't be frozen, keep that in mind when deciding where things belong.

Once you've decided what belongs in a particular place, you may want to label it. That way other residents in the home will be more likely to stick to the plan.

An object may have a different "home" for different times of the year. The lawn chairs may belong on the back deck or around a swimming pool during the summer, but in the garage during the winter.

After - facing Southwest

looks like the stuff found a home (after)

And everything in it's placeEdit

Once object have places to belong, they need to go there -- at least while they are not in use. Tidying up can even be a game for children. "Who can get all their toys back into the toy box first?"

Somethings are so easy to put away, we barely have to think about it. Others are more difficult. Something may need a special treatment (cleaning or wrapping) before it can be put away.

As mentioned above, objects may belong different places at different times. This is so obvious we don't usually think about it. Plates that belong on the table during a meal, and in the sink or dishwasher while being washed, belong in the closet (or someplace else) in between uses. A common cause of clutter is when things stay where they were used, or put after use (maybe while being cleaned) and are not returned to where they belong when not in use.

Some things may need to stay out of their "put away" place for awhile. For instance, if the family is working on a jigsaw puzzle over the course of a few days, you can't put it away during the time people aren't working on it. So, can it have a temporary place, a card table instead of the table where you eat meals? Or are you willing to eat meals in a temporary place for a few days?

Hints for overcoming common difficultiesEdit

Please add the things that have worked well for you and may help others.

  • Have a place near the entrance for clothing you only wear outside -- coats, boots, etc.
  • Place storage for clean, frequently used dishware near where you wash the dishes (sink and/or dishwasher).



A place for everything

Books reviewed on Literawiki:

Before and after picturesEdit

Before - facing Southwest | After - facing Southwest | After - facing Northwest
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