You know what I’m talking about. Those things that find their way to surfaces in your home and just don’t want to leave. Sometimes clutter happens to the best of us.
Really, clutter awareness is the best way to keep things under control, so your cleaning day is more of just tidying up and doing household chores than, say, digging through the piles to China … err … your bedroom floor.
Watch out for these culprits I’ve identified:
You unwrap a present, open the cardboard surrounding your new tube of toothpaste, grab a piece of chewing gum, etc. What happens to the package? Does it immediately go in the trash or the recycle bin? EVERY time? Yeah, didn’t think so. I’m the worst at this. Seriously. The worst. I open things and leave their wrappers and packages behind as I go. Somehow I have yet to train myself to deal with wrappers and packaging on the spot. I’m working on this big time right now.
If it comes through that front door, you’d better have a plan for how to deal with it, pronto, or else it sits on the kitchen table. You have to excavate just to find that coupon you wanted from last week. For us, Daniel tends to confiscate the bills and important documents and I’m left to deal with the sad junk mail. So here’s what I’ve learned to do. I walk into the house with my new batch of junk mail and I DON’T PUT IT DOWN. I literally sort through it immediately and tear up all those credit card offers, toss the mailers (I mean, really, do you read them? I don’t), and filter the items I do want to read. Then I read them RIGHT NEXT TO THE TRASH CAN. And toss them. Junk mail is no longer the master of me! I’m even thinking of adding a surreptitious shredder next to our entry hallway landing strip. Convenience is your friend.
Oh, this is my worst enemy. I can’t tell you how many times I have washed the same load of laundry multiple times simply because I couldn’t remember if that particular hamper on my bedroom floor was clean or dirty. I actually kinda like DOING the laundry now that I have my lovely little homemade detergent. But it’s not just the laundry; clothing also piles up in the living room, where we have apparently decided that the side chairs are perfect clothes horses. We toss our jackets there when we come home, and then they don’t leave until I get frustrated enough to put them in the coat closet. I read recently that the best way to deal with this is to just not lay things down “for now.” Just go ahead and store them where they belong. You know, like … the closet. One of these days I’ll get the hang of this.
Do you have them? Surely I’m not the only one. I’m scared I’ll lose track of where I’m at in the process so I leave it on the table. Or the coffee table. Or the couch. Or the end table. Or the floor. Or the dresser. These are craft projects, art projects, writing projects, research projects (books and books and books!), and work projects. Lately, this has been Etsy listing projects. I’ve got to have the items close by to write the listing and edit the photos for closest color accuracy, right? Um. Wrong. I should have an area set up specifically for this activity. It’s in the works as I type this.
THOSE HORRIBLE BITS AND PIECES OF UNIDENTIFIABLE THINGS YOU ARE SCARED YOU ACTUALLY NEED
Yes, this deserved all-caps. I am screaming this in my head! I’m sure you’ve had this conversation. “Honey, what is this?” (Waving random tiny piece of oddly shaped black plastic around. It is vaguely reminiscent of one of those furniture-in-a-box IKEA pegs. Or maybe it’s a connector for something electronic. Or maybe it’s …. heck, you have no clue what it is.) Honey doesn’t know, either, but suspects it goes to something. Like that old VCR in the garage. Maybe. So, random bit of who-knows-what gets either put in a pile of other random bits or thrown in a drawer or handed to Honey, who promptly forgets to do anything about it and so it stays put in his/her pocket. Which you discover on wash day. Oh, boy. Aren’t those little unidentifiable bits fun? To quote my junior high self: NOT. So, get your good self a simple Ziploc bag and start storing those bits and pieces in one spot. Choose a place to put said Ziploc bag. AND KEEP PUTTING BITS THERE. Eventually you’ll find the bit you need. Until then, at least you know where to put it.
Mementos & Photos
That ticket stub from the movie you went to on your first date. The letter from your mom that got you through a tough time at college. The really cute bow from the gift your best friend gave you. The tickets from your flight to Paris. The key to your first car. The fortune cookie fortune promising you will get the wish your heart most desires. This one is important: get a box. A nice sturdy, attractive box you will put on a shelf in a closet or your office, so you will use it. If you find a memento in a drawer or some random nook or cranny, put that sucker in the memories box. One day, it would be even better to put frame the ticket or put the key in a shadow box. Make a scrapbook for the stubs from museums and shows. Tie the letters up with some baker’s twine and store them in the box, to read at a later date when you need some encouragement again.
This is closely associated with those nasty bits and pieces, but with old electronic equipment that is outdated, you probably have the whole item. Things that qualify: your old cellphone, that printer from the late 90s that is gathering dust in your garage since you’ve replaced it … six times. (Better get rid of the others, too.) Old headphones and earbuds that you’re not sure if they work or not. Broken CD cases. Now, I’m not saying get rid of your CD collection (I guess I’m old school. I still buy CDS.) I’m also not saying throw out that record player or cassette tape deck, if you actually use them. Key word: USE. But items you replace on a regular basis need to be thrown out, recycled, given away, or taken to a collection point that can distribute them to people in need. For instance, you can donate cellphones here to help troops call home. Oh, and a special item of note? If you can’t find the charger anywhere, please just get rid of it. Please. I’m begging you. You’ve been eying that new smart phone or iPod, anyway.
This is not the good kind. This is change of the coin variety that falls in your couch cushions, behind your dresser, in the laundry room, under the loveseat, on top of the bathroom counter top. For change I suggest two things: first, find an attractive little bowl to deposit loose change in when you find it in your pockets or around the home; second, invest in some paper coin rolls. You will be amazed how quickly the change adds up when you take it to the bank. Or, just treat yourself to a movie.
Which of these is causing problems at your house?
Image: Amy Burton