My children believed the floor was the largest shelf in the house. In my Dad’s house, every inch of counter space is covered. I thought the need to clutter is genetic and skips a generation, the way I understand it works with twins. I recently purged the cabinets, drawers, closets and the pantry in my house of dozens of books that filled shelves, giving them to a church book sale. Papers and files jammed into a kitchen cabinet, owner’s manuals for equipment long ago discarded, records of past insurance policies long ago expired, statements from closed bank accounts, shoes on two large racks in the garage, the racks themselves and the like were loaded into multiple garbage bags. After loading it all into the truck, the sanitation workers shot a menacing look at the house. If it had to be submitted to radio-carbon 14 for age testing or was no longer used and would never be used again, it got tossed. I am not yet finished. I still have my daughter’s prom dresses and other clothes, which I hope to donate, two huge televisions that belonged in the Smithsonian (too big for me to get down the stairs without blowing an O ring) and more.
The result was liberating. I made discoveries of things I forgot we had, my daughters elementary school art and homemade cards given for birthdays, my son’s school detention citations (0h! the memories), hundreds of photographs that will take me months to organize into albums, and VHS home movies that I will transfer to DVD.
There is a point to this. Clutter is the enemy of space and organization is the anti-clutter. “For every thing a place,” my Mom would say. My children and Dad tend to practice “for every place a thing.” In the great purge, I had learned that perhaps my clutter gene was of the recessive variety. Clutter and disorganization are the result of excess stuff. Getting rid of the clutter is the first staging advice given to home sellers similarly afflicted. Here is help.
If it is not furniture or a rug, why is it on the floor? If it is not being used, why is it on the counter? Designate a place for things to go, always return those things to that place, and arrange things according to the frequency with which they are used so that they are easily accessed without disturbing your organization to find them. And remember the mantra, “if you don’t use it, lose it.” Before leaving a room, take 30-60 seconds to pick up items that are out of place. This little bit of time will make a difference.