To be a clutter buster you've got to be able to identify which items in your home are truly clutter, and which are not.
However, it's not always easy to identify clutter.
Clutter can be insidious, because it can be almost anything, from obvious trash to the most expensive antiques.
Further, the same object that may be clutter for one person is most certainly not for another person.
That makes it very hard to get your mind around, doesn't it?
Therefore, below are five criteria and guidelines you can use to decide if something in your house could be clutter. I emphasize the word "could" because what is really clutter in your home is such a subjective determination. You'll notice that many of items that may be clutter have emotional ties to them, and we'll be discussing some of those mental hangups that keep us from decluttering more next week.
This week, just think about this list, and what you've got in your home, to begin the process of identifying your clutter, and also identifying any emotions you've got that are keeping you from getting rid of it from your home.
Before you can be a clutter buster in your home you've got to know what is, and is not, clutter. Many people's preconceived notion of clutter is trash and cheap junk that fills our homes, and that we don't care about at all.
While trash is most certainly clutter, that is about the only hard and fast rule about identifying clutter that there is. That is because, as the saying goes, "One man's junk is another man's treasure."
However, when you look critically at items in your home don't automatically overlook something because it cost you (or a loved one) a lot of money to purchase it. Even the most expensive things can be clutter.
The same thing goes for antiques and family heirlooms. These items may be very expensive or valuable (or not -- they could just have sentimental value), but don't automatically discount these items as not being clutter in your home. Unfortunately, these items which were provided with love in mind may only clutter up your home, taking away the joy the gift was intended to bring.
There can, as the saying goes, be too much of a good thing. And that is exactly what can happen when we start amassing a large selection of a particular type of item.
An example of this can be collections, which can quickly turn from something that makes us happy and brings us joy into clutter if we're not careful. That means you should be especially critical of any collections you do have, and do some serious soul searching to determine if these items are truly worthwhile to keep, or just items collecting dust and using precious space in your home.
Further, a few of a particular item, such as shoes, clothes, or kitchen gadgets, are a good thing since you have choices, variety, and appropriate things for multiple occasions. However, when you start to accumulate too many of a particular item what used to be a nice selection to choose from becomes an overwhelming pile of clutter.
Anything in your home that you have a large selection of should be suspect, when evaluating your home to identify clutter as a clutter buster. That doesn't mean everything will be clutter, but it could be if you're not careful!
It often happens that we use an item for quite a while, and then our circumstances change and it is no longer quite as useful to us anymore. That's when the item begins to collect dust in a corner - becoming clutter.
That's the thing about clutter -- it may have been useful stuff in the past.
That's why you've got to be ever vigilant in your home when you're a clutter buster. You've got to question items every time you pick them up, to decide if they're clutter or not, and pay attention and notice when you no longer use an item anymore, to consider that hey, that's no longer needed anymore here in my house.
You could have some really awesome stuff but if it doesn't fit in your home in the storage or living space you have available it's clutter.
This one is tough for even the most seasoned clutter buster, because people experience this all the time with downsizing, and it just doesn't seem fair. However, the fact is that if it sits out collecting dust or becomes a tripping hazard all the time it just doesn't belong in your home anymore.
Now, don't start throwing out everything right now that you're tripping over. This category of stuff is tricky because you need to first make sure you're not devoting storage space to real clutter which could make room for this important item. If you can get rid of other stuff to make room for it, it's not clutter at all and you've proven its worth by getting rid of something else instead.
However, sometimes tough choices must be made because you only have so much space available, and if you can't make a home for something in your home, it unfortunately just doesn't belong there.
This brings me to my final definition for clutter, and what ultimately sums up the other rules and guidelines above:
Clutter buster rule: If you don't love or use it, it's clutter.
Everything in your home should, ideally, serve a purpose so you can keep it clutter free. You should either use it, or love it, since then it either helps you with something or makes you feel something positive each time you see it.
The thing is, practically, if we've got too much stuff we can't use it all. Now, I'm not saying you've got to use each item you own every single day, but practically you can only wear so many clothes or shoes in a year, for example.
Further, unlike with people, where your love can keep multiplying, it just doesn't seem to be true for stuff. You can only truly love so many things, and take the time to care for them, before you just don't feel that attachment to everything anymore. Keep what's important and ditch the rest!
As I mentioned above, identifying what is truly clutter in your home, so you can become a clutter buster, is as much about your emotions sometimes, as anything else. Therefore, this week, just think about some of these guidelines I've mentioned above, and look about your home, making some preliminary thoughts about what is clutter, for you. (I'd love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!)
Then, next week as part of the decluttering your home series we'll continue on with how to become a clutter buster, by identifying and discussing some of the mental hangups holding you back from getting rid of this extra stuff in your home and becoming a clutter busting machine!