Clutter can manifest as the clothes you keep and never wear. Or it might be the dinnerware you don’t use. Or the music you haven’t listened to for years. Or the books you no longer read.
It can come from all of those choices once made that no longer make sense in your life as it exists now. They are the choices you need to revisit, remake.
But we are also invited to make new choices everyday. And those that we leave unmade become clutter too.
Homes are not static. They are not the moment in time one sees captured in a photograph but a living habitat. And minimalism isn’t a destination, it is an intention. Every day, every choice.
Because clutter is also the clothes you can’t decide if they are clean enough to hang back in your wardrobe or dirty enough to wash so they live on a chair or on chest of drawers or on the floor.
Clutter is the towel after a shower, tossed to the side instead of bought back to hang up in the bathroom for its next use.
Clutter is the empty jar on the windowsill, waiting to be returned to the kitchen to be cleaned and reused.
Clutter is the mail that finds itself in a pile to be dealt with later.
Clutter is the keys with no home.
It is the shoes huddled at the door. The cups left out where they were used. The empty containers that end up back in the fridge. The things left behind in your car.
Clutter is the physical manifestation of indecision, of inaction. Every choice you put off, waits for you in the corners of your home. And well, there is limited space in your queue.
So just start making choices, right? Simple as that.
Well yeah, I guess you could say that.
But if it was that simple, wouldn’t you already be doing it?
So why aren’t you?
Now that’s the real work that begins to make choices simple.
But where do you start exploring that? This is what helped me…
The most important step for me was to clarify my priorities. It is in this way that I know what is most important to fill my time with and I’m not left trying to squeeze anything into left over spaces. What is it that needs attention in your life? What available time and energy do you have to give that attention? What other ways can you meet those requirements, if you cannot personally fulfil them?
There are things in my life that require attention ritualistically. Finding time for them that flows with the rest of my commitments helps ensure they aren’t neglected. What do you need to do everyday? When makes most sense to do them? How can you make them easiest to do?
Everything we own is given a space where it returns when not in use, otherwise where does it end up? When I need to clear something from another space, I want to know where I am taking it to. Having answers makes it simpler to enact them and homes are answers. There are things in our home that move more frequently than other things; coats, keys, shoes, wallets, phones. What sort of home would help you keep track of these high traffic items?
What does it mean to do the laundry? Is it running the washing machine or is it also hanging the clothing to dry and what about putting that clothing back in the closet? When is this task actually complete? I used to constantly leave things undone and my home would not let me forget it. Full laundry baskets, dishwashers storing clean dishes, turning up to bed at night only to find that we hadn’t actually put the sheets back on after washing, bins that were emptied but not relined. So now I commit, fully. If I’m going to do the washing that means I’m going to do the washing. It helps you make choices when you know what that choice actually means.
Anything that I don’t need to make decisions about, frees up mental energy to make other decisions. There are things in my life I keep consistent so that they no longer need the same kind of attention. For example, I wear the same outfit and I eat a similar menu. If you can make a universal choice, these then become things that no longer need ongoing consideration. What can you stop making choices about?
And yes, it’s time to actually…
Ah, it’s scary right? What if you make the wrong one? But you know what… no choice, is a choice. Is it really the one you want to be making? Time to get intentional; inaction is valid, of course but not if it is just the default due to avoidance. Your choices are your principle; so where do you want to invest?