The Clutter Solutions that Don’t Work

by Lisa Rosen on June 21, 2011

Lee and I have learned some lessons from our (ongoing) 2011 house purge.  Foremost on that list of lessons:  we have a lot of stuff that we don’t need.

That’s not especially surprising–it seems to be the American way.

The corollary, though, is mildly interesting, in my opinion:  buying more stuff to organize your stuff doesn’t really work.

First off, the systems themselves are ineffective.  I’ve tried it all–shelves, baskets, boxes, crates, hooks–and unless you are willing to invest a significant chunk of time in implementing the system (and doing so effectively, ie, culling the junk instead of just dumping it all in a box and stuffing it under the bed), you haven’t really dealt with the problem; you’ve just kicked it down the road, to be dealt with at a later date.

Besides, if you hang a hook beside the door and label it CAR KEYS, and then your teenager insists on leaving his car keys on the coffee table, you haven’t really dealt with the clutter problem; you’ve just added a nicely labelled hook to your house-wide collection of stuff.

Problem number two (and I believe this is actually the greater mental leap, for most of us):  well-organized clutter is still clutter.  Your collection of old National Geographic magazines may be in numerical order, in a special dust-free, archival-quality lidded box, but the bigger question is why are you hanging on to a collection of old National Geographic magazines?

Someone, at some point in time, is going to throw them away.  It’s inevitable.  So why not get rid of them now, and clear out that space?

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