What Exactly is Clutter…& Why Do I Have It?

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clutter definition

Arriving at a basic definition of clutter is paramount to successfully clearing space in your place.

“Release the clutter in your life and set yourself free!”  Who doesn’t want to savor this vibe! But, wait … what exactly are we supposed to get rid of? How much is too much? We are all different with what we’ve got stashed and stored in our homes. It follows that the reason we hang on to certain things will likewise be unique.

Indeed there is no one-size-fits-all approach to decluttering! So before you start pitching things, let’s pause to figure out what “clutter” truly means. Sure, there are always going to be the obvious things that need to hit the curb immediately. Think expired, worn-out, or broken items. But for everything else, let’s agree on a universal definition. From there, we can then go further to define personal parameters for what to keep and what to let go. Are you ready?

Clutter is anything you don’t want or need to keep.

What do you think about that? I mean, really: if you don’t want it or don’t need it, it’s just occupying valuable space! On the other hand, if you love it or use it, that definitely stays! When we have a clear idea on how to view clutter, it becomes so much easier to identify it in our homes. Additionally, it also makes for a smoother process to part ways with clutter. Now let’s go a little deeper.

What is “want”?

Here’s where we’re really getting to the crux of things! When we say we want something, it generally means we see value in it playing a role in our lives. We could be talking about something that makes us smile or inspires us. Something that represents an important person, place or experience. And again, the items that we want will be unique to each of us.

Personalization is what makes our house a home! However, the key to maintaining a practical quantity of things is this: do we still feel this way now … not just 10 or 20 years ago! With all due respect to Marie Kondo, dare I say they no longer “spark joy”?

What is “need”?

When we say we need something, we are affirming that something is supporting us where we are at in our lives. It makes our daily routine easier, it gets things done or it creates positive vibes for us. We reach for these items regularly. So we’re talking about things that support our lifestyle now or the one we are heading towards.

On the other hand, what about all the stuff that never makes it out of the closet or out of the drawers? We should view our belongings with a critical eye and determine if they truly deserve a place in our homes. In fact, if they are sitting idle, imagine the negative energy they emit, causing guilt. Who needs that vibe in the home!

What needs to go?

Now that we have a basic definition of clutter, all kinds of things start to come to mind, don’t they? A short list would include:

  • It’s no longer your style
  • You have too many duplicates
  • It was an impulse buy, now collecting dust

What else would you add to this list? 

It’s so easy to have clutter creepage in our homes, isn’t it? Mail arrives daily and lingers on the countertop. Makeup samples and faded towels are crammed in our bathroom cabinets. Our clothes are a range of sizes and eras. And honestly, many things can still be in perfectly good condition. But we just don’t care for them, use them, or need them anymore. Sounds like it’s time to dig in with some overdue decluttering sessions, don’t you think?

The Wrap

Choices we’ve made about the stuff in our homes can be overdo for examination, particularly when we reach our 50’s. Most of us are ending one phase of life and poised to start another. And a new direction or focus calls for releasing the clutter: letting go of the stuff that doesn’t serve a purpose anymore. After all, decluttering clears space for layering in new items which truly support your next season!

Take some time to walk through your house. Open your closets and drawers. Look at your belongings with fresh eyes. You will start to see a pattern with what might be overdue for releasing.

For more insights into how clutter accumulates, circle back here

Or check out how the Swedes approach midlife decluttering (hint: it’s a national pastime!) over here

And if you’re thinking to save your stuff for your kids? Listen to this

Your turn!

  • What kind of clutter do you seem to hang on to?
  • Which room seems to be your Achilles?
  • Any insights on releasing clutter that you’d like to share?

Share your thoughts below … and thanks for stopping by!

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Deciding what to keep and what to let go from a well lived life can be overwhelming. Everything you see and touch has meaning for you. It’s hard to know where to start! That changes when you have an expert by your side to show you the way forward. With my Clutter Busting Consult, you’ll learn how to meaningfully clear space for your future. There are only a limited number of free slots available each month so don’t miss out on the opportunity for your one-on-one clarity chat!

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