Helping people declutter is something My Divine Concierge does frequently. Although each decluttering job is unique in its own way, all of the jobs we have handled in the past have one thing in common: people call us AFTER they realize that their homes are cluttered. That is not a problem. That’s the way this works. Still, is there a way to be proactive about clutter?
In theory, yes. It is possible to be proactive about any problem. But in practice, it might not be so easy. Some people have an easier time preventing clutter because they know what causes it. Others, not so much. It creeps up on them without any warning. They only recognize the problem once the clutter is so bad that it cannot be ignored.
How Clutter is Defined
A big difficulty with being proactive about clutter is defining it. The dictionary definition of the word is either “a crowded or confused mass or collection” or “things that clutter a place.” For a lot of people who have trouble with clutter, these dictionary definitions mean very little. Why? Because they are subjective.
What you see as being crowded or confused might appear organized to another person. What your partner might consider clutter (think objects, here) might not be to you. Perceptions are different. This suggests that the first step in being proactive is to come to some sort of agreement on the definition of the word.
If you live alone, you only have to come to an agreement with yourself. Living with others requires that you all come together and agree on what constitutes clutter and what does not. That could prove the hardest part of the process for your group.
Setting Some Parameters
Defining clutter is just the start of being proactive. Next up is the step of setting some parameters that hopefully prevent clutter from occurring. For example, let us say you and your family define kitchen clutter as unnecessary objects that make it more difficult than it has to be to work in the kitchen. Now you have something to work with.
You can establish a parameter that says no kitchen objects can be permanently stored on a certain section of your countertops. Anything that ends up in that no man’s land either has to be stored away or gotten rid of. If you are out of storage space, something has to go.
You might also define clutter as any collection of objects that makes it more difficult to move around your home. Again, you have something to work with. You can establish that no further objects will be placed in the front hallway. The next time something shows up, find out who left it there and get it taken care of. If there isn’t any place else in the house to store it, something has to go.
The In and Out Policy
A lot of people we help declutter finish the job by establishing what we call the ‘in and out’ policy. This policy states that, in order to stop clutter from re-accumulating, every new object that comes into the house must be matched by another object going out. This is a good policy for keeping clutter in check.
At the end of the day, being proactive about clutter is really a matter of coming to some sort of definition and then setting up parameters and policies to prevent it from occurring. Being proactive may not come easily to you, but it is well worth trying. You might just find that being proactive solves all of your clutter problems.