Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cleaning truth: Clutter attracts clutter

I've been hearing (reading) this phrase a lot lately: clutter attracts clutter.

And I've kind of mumbled to myself, yeah, whatever.  Clutter attracts clutter.  I'm sure it's true, but whatever.  Not sure how that's relevant to me.

But then I started paying attention.  My current decluttering/cleaning mentor, Dana of A Slob Comes Clean, says that we should do our dishes every day, and if we do our dishes every day, we will find that we are much more likely to not let dishes pile up on the counter or in the sink.  Because if we have a nice clear countertop and sink, we want to keep it that way.  But if there are a few things hanging around, it's like permission to dump things there.

I started paying attention, and it is so true.  When my counters and sink are clear, I will wash the knife and cutting board I just used right away, but if there are other dirty dishes in those areas, I won't (confession: I put the cutting board in the dishwasher, but you get the idea.  I deal with it right away instead of letting things pile up).  This is why, if I go to bed leaving a few dirty dishes on the counter, in the morning it looks like a restaurant threw up in my kitchen--dirty dishes everywhere.  They multiply.  Not really, but leaving dirty dishes around invites other dirty dishes to join the party.

My washer and dryer, which are in our mud room/passageway to the garage/the way the family most often comes into the house, are a natural dumping ground.  A flat surface right where we're coming in to the house?  So convenient.  So hard to resist.  But here's the thing.  When those surfaces are clear, all of us are more likely to take our things to where they belong.  But when there are a few things left on top of the dryer, the family's subconscious says, huh.  This must be where we put stuff.  Guess I'll just leave this here.

I think this is also true on a broader scale. You know that phrase, a place for everything and everything in its place?  Used to drive me crazy, because I had lots of things that I didn't really have a place for.  A place for everything seemed like an impossible goal.  But now I know, thanks to the container concept, that everything can and should have a place.  If it doesn't, it's clutter.  Or if it's definitely something you use and need, then there is clutter somewhere else that needs to be moved to make room for that useful something.

So if I have just one thing that I'm not sure what to do with, I am much more likely to either find a place for it or get rid of it, than if I have a bunch of things I'm not sure what to do with.  Decision fatigue is real, and a bunch of items that need to be given a home are overwhelming.

What do you think?  Does clutter attract clutter in your home or workplace?

If you are not a stellar cleaner by nature or by nurture, I strongly recommend Dana's book: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.  If you are a person who wonders why something that seems so effortless for other people is so difficult for you, Dana is your our people.  Her ideas make so much sense for the cleaning impaired (because she is one of us), and her writing is easy to read and down to earth.

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