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Defining clutter

A weed is a plant out of place not intentionally sown, whose undesirable qualities outweigh its good points. Some crop plants even can become weeds when they grow where they are not wanted. Source: The Agronomy Guide, Penn State University website

Clutter is stuff that's not where it's supposed to be. It belongs somewhere else. Sometimes it belongs elsewhere in your house. Sometimes it belongs in the garbage bin.

Clutter is the weeds in the garden of your house.

Benefits of clutter

Phil McGraw's third 'Life Law' is People do what works. There must be some pay-off to acquiring and keeping clutter, or we wouldn't do it.


Feathering the nest with saved candles, newspapers and glass jars makes us feel secure. If we ever need a candle, or a jar, or information from those newspapers, we'll be sweet.


Clutter may be our way of avoiding doing something we fear. All those things we'll get sorted "as soon as I clean up my mess." Our plans are on hold - perhaps for this lifetime.

Cost of clutter

The price we pay for our clutter is a lifetime loaded down with things. The biggest cost is emotional.

Clutter takes up space. Clutter impedes your movement and progress.

Clutter makes cleaning harder. You can't quickly wipe down the kitchen counter if it is covered in clutter.

Everything stored away or hidden discreetly or indiscreetly is also stored in your mind and is subconsciously draining your mental energy. Once discarded, it is discarded from your mind, and you are free from keeping mental tabs on it. Don Aslett, Is There Life After Housework?

Benefits of clearing clutter

  • You have more space to move and breathe
  • It's easier to find what you're looking for
  • You don't buy items you already own but can't find
  • Less stress
  • The moment you start, changes will occur. You'll feel lighter and empowered to continue.

Categories of clutter

Unfinished tasks

If your mind is full of frustration at your mess and worries about unfinished tasks, you'll have less mental space left for things that are truly important to you. It takes energy to hold onto objects - and ideas. When you remove the things you're fretting about, whether they're piles of paper or uncompleted tasks, you free up that energy for something else. And you decrease your stress level in the process.

Watch for tasks that can be dropped - tasks that you do just because that's what you've always done. Plan to stay focused on those tasks that will move you toward your goals.

  1. Make a list of unfinished projects.
  2. Decide the importance of each project.
  3. Finish the important ones; discard and forget about the ones that are not so important to you.

This process not only lets you prioritize your unfinished tasks but it allows you to "unclaim" the responsibility for tasks that you do not feel are important to you.

Unsure decisions

Often, clutter results because you've postponed making decisions. The first step to creating a positive environment is to decide what you need to foster your best and highest experience. It is impossible to begin to address a clutter problem without a clear understanding of your values, your direction, and your priorities.

Unused or unwanted items

Unused things crowd out the things we actually use. Take time to review your belongings. If they don't embrace you and create a sense of appreciation, release them. Choose to surround yourself with only those things you love and use and you will begin to create a space that supports and nurtures you. How do you know if it is clutter? Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I need it?
  • Is it useful?

If you can answer, "Yes" to any of these questions, keep the item in question. If your answer is "No", or you're not sure, release the item. It no longer serves your needs. Clearing a lifetime of items and habits can be overwhelming. Start slowly and reward yourself - you're beginning to create the change that will improve your life!

Pencil Box at Sunset by BlessthisMess

Things that are loved, used and appreciated have strong, vibrant energy around them.

Other sites:

What's important to you?

It's hard to decide what to get rid of if you don't know what is important to you in the first place. What's important to you? Most people think of cash and valuables, but what would you be devastated about if it was lost? Which of your possessions are truly irreplaceable?

Further reading:

What financial records to keep and how long to keep them by Bankrate.com. Suggestions about how long you should keep personal finance and investment records on file (US-oriented)

Steps in an Excavation Session

  • Select a target area (not too ambitious!) and type of possession
  • Create categories for this possession type
  • Begin excavation
  • Continue until the target area is clear
  • Plan an appropriate use for the cleared area
  • Plan to preventing new clutter arriving in the excavated area

Disposal or dispersal

It's very difficult for most of us to simply throw something away - so recycle it to friends, hospitals, schools or charities who will actually use it.

Keeping clutter at bay

  • Make a rule that you clear space for whatever you bring into your home by clearing out something else.
  • Use the public library.
  • Use the Web for information.
  • Cancel outdated magazine subscriptions.
  • Get off junk mailing lists.
Out of clutter, find Simplicity.
From discord, find Harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.
Albert Einstein

Dispersal avenues:

  • The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc Our mission is to put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them.
  • CollectiveGood Mobile phone recycling.
  • Earth 911 Making every day Earth day. You can look up where to recycle specific items on this site which has information on reusing or recycling many items: old computers, cellphones, household hazardous waste, batteries, used motor oil, etc.
  • Freecycle Freecycle is an email list where people give away things that they no longer need for free. Changing the world one gift at a time.