Over the past 7 years of being a Professional Organizer, I have been asked by many of my clients what my home and office look like. "I bet your house is super organized", they always say. Yes, my home is organized, but it does not look like I live in a magazine. We live in our home and so we might have a newspaper out on the counter or the kitchen table for the afternoon or my son might have his clothes on the floor when he wakes up. It is not about being a neat freak, it is about being able to find the items you need in a reasonable amount of time. Yes, this is something I can do. I know where the items I need are and can obtain them within 5 minutes. Now, five minutes might be too fast for you, so maybe you need to obtain your items within 10 minutes. It is an individual issue. Mail on the counter might not bother you, but dirty clothes on the floor does. Clutter and its limits are individual
choices. So when do you know your clutter is a problem?
You should not have to buy something because you cannot find it. This is when you know you need to do something about the clutter in your home. Think about the amount of money you can save by not buying items multiple times. This goes for bills too. I have many clients who spend hundreds of dollars a year on late fees because they cannot find the bill to pay. This again, is when you know clutter has messed up your life and you need to gain control.
My house has a place for everything and many places are labeled for the rest of the family to know where to get items and where to put them back. Do not assume that once you unclutter a space and it looks great, that everyone else will know what you did and where to find the items again. Decluttering is a household affair and labeling just makes it easier for everyone. If mail is the issue, then as soon as the mail comes in the house, eliminate the junk mail. Have a recycle bin or trash can out in your garage or where ever you enter the home. Do not bring junk mail, ads you will never use, or flyers into your home. I find more grocery store ads and flyers in my clients home and most are to stores they never enter. Also, remember that most grocery stores have the current ad in the store as you walk in. Put your bills in a place that will be easy to find, will not attract other clutter, and you have access to anytime. Do not just set it on the counter. That is where they can accidentally get thrown out or lost in a sea of paper.
Take control of your clutter by making sure you need and use the item. If it was purchased on a whim and has been sitting there for years, get rid of it. I live with the items I actually use. For the things I use occasionally, I try to store those in the basement or a top shelf, so they are not taking up space where everyday items can be placed. Every season and holiday, as I put items away, I ask myself if I will be wearing or using that next season. Purging on a regular basis will also keep your clutter under control.
Be proactive when it comes to your space.