My definition of clutter is whatever I can’t handle.
Clutter is anything that consistently gets out of control in my home.
Decluttering isn’t about deciding what I do or don’t need. It’s not even about knowing what I should or shouldn’t keep. It’s about understanding what I can handle.
Even if I believe in my heart of wanna-be-an-ultra-creative-mama hearts that every home should have a big stash of craft supplies. . . if I can’t keep that stash under control, it’s clutter.
If I hit three jackpot garage sales in a row and find six coats for six levels of cold for fifty cents apiece . . . but I’m forever finding five of them on the floor . . . those coats are clutter.
If I love to cook, but I can’t fit all my cookbooks into the space I have . . . those cookbooks are clutter.
Many people can handle more stuff than I can. I used to look at their homes and think “I need to get organized!” But the truth was . . .
I needed to figure out how much stuff I could handle. I needed to declutter.
Once I accepted that my brain works differently and that each home and personality is unique, I started to make real progress.
Defining clutter in this way gave me permission to stop analyzing each item in my home according to its value, and start getting rid of it simply because it was making life in my home harder to manage.
If you are completely overwhelmed by the clutter in your home, you need my book: Decluttering at the Speed of Life. In it, I explain the mindset changes that will help you make real progress and teach my non-emotion-based five step process for making decluttering progress (and only progress, never a bigger mess) in any amount of time you have.
Lydia V. says
I have read, reread, and re-reread both of your books…which have been a great investment in my quest to get things, and life, under control.
I read every post that comes in, and often peruse your blog just to find stuff that will be interesting/helpful/reaffirming!
I have watched, and re-watched your Decluttering Shakedown series more than once.
Everything you say resonates, and I have been working on having more time in my life to be able to work at getting less “stuff” in my life.
It is tough with a family who literally walks out of their clothes, and drops everything wherever there is a clean space. However, getting some areas decluttered and consolidated has lead to those areas staying tidy for longer (first major achievement – Bathroom!!)…
I just want to say that your efforts, and enthusiasm, are very much appreciated!!!
I totally agree
Penney Helms says
You spent the day with me today. It was time to attack the second bathroom closet. I had items that really did need to go there. Of course, my container was way over full (too much lotion, too much soap, too much first aid items, too much cleaning stuff, just too much!). I have now handled/recycled/trashed about 250 items today, but I can see the end. I continue to thank you for your philosophy and your support!
Peggy B says
Reading listening and watching your website, podcast , and videos has been such a help. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff, and you showed me how. Although I admit I still have more stuff than I need, , I am now at the point, that I feel comfortable opening the door when somebody knocks on it and I don’t have to apologize for my house. There are still some out of sight areas that I will just close the door to if they aren’t looking that great, at the moment, but no giant mess to embarrass me when someone comes over. OK I admit that there might be just a tiny bit of clutter around on flat surfaces, but in 5 minutes I can make it look acceptable!
I’ve finally realised why I get so overwhelmed and paralysed, it’s because the mess as a whole, looks like hard work and would require a lot of effort, that is until I read your books, listened to your podcast’s and then followed your Visibility Rule and started with the Easy Stuff First, which then enabled traction. I would surprisingly clear an entire area, angst free with no decision making involved! I can finally breathe a sigh of relief, my house looks & functions so much better. I still have to talk myself through it (do the easy stuff first) & decluttering is the key. Thank you so much Dana for helping me cope. May God Bless You! x
This is . . . really, really good!
I’ve always been a fan of Wm. Morris’s “Have in your house only things you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” (oh, the man knew about beautiful!) and more recently Marie Kondo’s “Keep objects that spark joy,” but they really don’t help that much. I am drowning in things that are useful and/or give me joy and/or are beautiful!
“If I can’t control it, it’s clutter.” I’m going to try that!
Dee Jones says
I just came across your blog and writing recently. I am loving your great attitude, helpful ideas and tips.
This one especially struck me… a few years ago life got extra stressful and one of the banes of my existence was dishes… my husband is a great cook and would use every pot pan and dish in the course of a day or two. It was nuts… the amount of dishes was like a wave on my counters. It would send me in to angry depression. So one day I boxes up 95% of my dishes… I only left out the things that we used regularly or needed. We don’t entertain and we are empty-nesters. we had maybe 15 things in the cupboard and a couple of pans and such.
It makes me feel so much better knowing i can handle it quick and easy.
My mom thinks I am weird and that this is strange behavior. I have had comments that I am being lazy.
Your article really let me know that its Okay. This works for me and it doesn’t have to work for other people. Thank you.
sharon heatherington says
I bought your book ( I had space ) lol and decided to purchase the audible version! It’s fantastic to put on and listen too as I declutter. I love listening to you and cannot wait to start all your podcasts to keep me company on my way!
Deirdre Root says
That was rotten of people to say you were lazy, for the record. Figuring out what you need and getting rid of the rest means you’re not cleaning the unnecessary stuff.
But it DID remind me of a motivational speaker (can’t remember which now) who said that when you want to make something more efficient, you don’t ask the hardest worker, you ask the laziest. They can figure out the quickest and easiest way to make time for more loafing. 🙂
Sue-Ann Vesely says
Dear, dear, Dana,
You give me hope. I cannot give higher praise. Our ultimate hope is in God, but we are supposed to help each other out too. You are doing that for all of us who are struggling with these issues.
Please keep encouraging us!