Sunday, December 29, 2019

Where Clutter Likes to Hide

I'm sure that there are some experienced minimalists out in the world who have managed to keep their homes completely free from clutter. I, however, am not one of those people. A clutter-free space can sometimes take a good bit of effort to attain and then maintain. A solution that's seemed to have worked fairly well for me so far is to target places where clutter likes to quietly or invisibly accumulate, and change the environment and/or my habits so clutter doesn't come back.

I've found that clutter likes to hide in or on:
  • Entryway tables - Having a table so close to the main door makes for an easy spot for paper clutter to accumulate. Junk mail, bills, and local bulletin papers loved to come in from the mailbox and spread out across the table in the entryway. I changed my habit from bringing all of the mail in to bringing in only bills and personal letters. On my way back up to the house from the mailbox, anything that's a promotional or junk mailer gets tossed into the recycling bin. I also decided to move the table deeper into the house, and make it the home of the router and a couple of cute potted plants. There's no room left on it for paper clutter, and it's now located in an inconvenient place for paper junk, too.
  • Kitchen drawers - Everyone has probably dealt with a "junk drawer" or two in their lives, and it's usually one of the awkwardly-sized drawers that's too small for a flatware organizer, but still useful for something or other. My own junk drawer phenomenon has persisted through several moves, and has always been home to random hardware bits like screws, nails, and picture-hanging supplies as well as small kitchen appliance manuals. Many appliance manuals can be found online for free, so I tossed the manuals I had into the recycling bin. As for the miscellaneous hardware bits, those were gathered up and put into the hardware container I keep with my toolbox.
  • Kitchen cabinets and cupboards - When items like cake pans and sets of dishes live behind closed doors, it's easy for them to multiply invisibly over time. Having extra plates, mugs, and cake pans you never use won't hurt you, but they won't help, either. I had a 16-piece dinnerware set that was only ever used for the mugs, and a stash of all sizes of cake pans. When I bake, I typically go for the smaller pans anyway--why keep the larger items if they never get used? Into the donate bin went the pans and plate sets I realized I no longer had use for.
  • Bedside tables - I once had the lofty goal of reading and journaling before bed as a way to wind down for the night. But with those goals, my bedside table quickly became covered not only in books, but several notebooks and no shortage of writing utensils. The reality was I'd usually only want to read, if I wanted to do anything, before falling asleep. I corralled all the notebooks and pens and pencils and placed them with the rest of my stationery goods elsewhere, and now keep just one or two books on the bedside table.
  • Bathroom cabinets - Hair and skin products seem to quickly spiral out of hand when they spend most of their time hiding behind a mirror or a door. Changing this came down to discarding any products I wasn't using or had no genuine plans to use, then I rearranged the items I kept to give them some "breathing room" in the space I'd cleared.
The hardest thing to tackle on this list was the kitchen junk drawer because it's a catch-all for a mix of useful and useless items. If you can eliminate a junk drawer, it should be painless to eliminate clutter anywhere else. The locations I listed above have always been the worst locations for clutter wherever I've lived. Now, being more aware of clutter's favorite hiding places, it's easy to keep clutter to a minimum if I can't manage to eliminate it completely. 

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