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Regular Application of the Clutter Control Formula Can Help to Achieve Organized Living

Beverly OMalley

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Clutter control is only possible if the amount of stuff coming in to your space is less than or equal to the amount of stuff leaving your space.

There will always be more things to own than you have space for. To achieve organized living however, there has to be a balance between what comes in with what goes out.

The simple equation for clutter control:

stuff coming in < stuff going out

The psychology of why people hold onto things is truly fascinating and has a sparked a whole new field of study called the “psychology of clutter". There is even a new word in our lexicon. . . . . . .declutter.

This word is so new it is not in the dictionary, but the literature on organizing and controlling clutter shows that the word declutter is already in common usage. Why do we even need the word. . .declutter?

Somewhere, somehow, some people accumulate more stuff than they know what to do with. Worse yet they have difficulty parting with the items they own. Some people have a misguided notion that older means better. Maybe they watch the Antiques Road Show!

I know some people who would spend time taking twenty nails out of a piece of lumber just in case. Just in case of what? Well. . . . . . just in case they need a piece of lumber with twenty holes in it I guess!

It is not necessary to be wasteful in order to achieve organized living. Re-purposing and recycling efforts are necessary for our global ecology and survival.

Space is finite. It does not continue to grow to accommodate the items you want to put in it, and without some system in place to regularly purge your space you will soon run out of space.

Clutter control can be achieved through the process of regular purging. But what exactly is purging?

Used as a verb the word purge means to become more pure! The real meaning of the word is that impurities are cleansed away or undesirable elements are removed. That is precisely why this word is used in organized living.

Purging your stuff helps you to feel better, lighter, and more pure. You deserve that! and of course the less stuff you have the more you can be in control of what you do have! Purging is often misunderstood simply as a way to “get rid" of things but in the purging process, deciding what to keep is equally important as deciding what to get rid of. Purging is also about simplifying your life. You do not need stuff around you just because it exists! The only stuff you should should have around you is stuff that is:

  • needed
  • in regular use
  • important to you

If you are trying to declutter, here are some questions to ask when making purging decisions for organized living.

Is this item outdated or expired?

There are many items that we keep hanging around that will actually expire. Things like:

  • makeup
  • toiletries
  • perfume
  • paint
  • medications

These things will not last forever and will actually spoil if kept too long. Some of these items may have expiry dates on them or an 800 number on the packaging that you can call to see how long they might last.

Have I used/worn this item in the last year?

If you have not used or worn a item in the last year you will never miss it if you get rid of it. Really you will not!

Is this item a duplicate?

Often we purchase duplicate items because we cannot locate the original! You really do not need more than two waffle makers, or one coffee pot.

When duplication occurs decide which one you use and like the most and get rid of the duplicates. For even better clutter control, when you purchase a replacement item get the old one out of the cupboard and donate it right away!

Does it work?/Is it in good condition?

If it isn't working why do you have it? Do you consider your home a junkyard or a safe haven for broken down machines?

Keeping things around that are not working are really a sign of disrespect for yourself. If you think you deserve to live in a junkyard then your home will look like one.

Is this item worth the space it takes up in my house?

This question really asks you to evaluate your motives for hanging onto stuff. Phrased in a different way the question to ask yourself might be “How does hanging on to this item make my life better?"

You may need to do some serious emotional confrontation with yourself to get to the root of why you like to have stuff hanging around. Clutter control strategies must recognize that the best things in life are not things. Ask yourself if there really is a need to keep stuff hanging around at the expense of your mental health and perhaps even your safety?

Does this item have a special meaning?

There is no question that some items have special meaning to us as they are related to specific memories or people that we love. If you have items in your home that are treasured items they should be treated with dignity and respect. If you love these objects then treat them that way.

If you are going to go the bother of keeping something that is precious memory you want it to last or if the item is a family heirloom it deserves to be treated with respect. You can showcase it or display it in a respectful way.

Asking yourself the right questions can help you with the purging that is necessary for clutter control. But what if. . . . . . . . .

  • you throw it out and then you find out you later on that you have a use for that item.
  • you find out later that you need it? I mean REALLY need it!! It could happen??. . . . . . . . not likely!

You will never have a need for that discarded item that was rotten, broken, or non-functional.

Even if you eventually did need that piece of wood. . . . you know the one with the twenty holes in it. You could always go to the lumber store and get one, without the holes of course! They have much more space for storing lumber than you do.

Your home should be used for living not storing.

Organized living requires regular purging of items that have long since lost their usefulness in your life! The clutter control formula is a useful one.

stuff in < stuff out

Use it often!

Bev OMalley invites you to visit the website This website is dedicated to making sense of the processes and decisions needed to achieve organized living, including information about what decisions are necessary to achieve clutter control and declutter your space.


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