by Regina Lark
Posted on October 24, 2014 by A Clear Path
I’m invited in people’s homes, offices, bedrooms and storage units that are generally filled with the stuff of life: books and magazines, bikes, bassinets, old dishes, wedding gowns, baby clothes, and suits that no longer fit. Each item, in of itself, is not clutter, but bring enough of it together without a plan for where it will live and you’ve got the makings of a very uncomfortable situation or over-crowded living space.
The one thing we can say about clutter then is that it manifests when we bring something into our homes without a plan for where it should eventually live. And it really is as simple as that.
Who has clutter? A lot of people do. Rich and poor, young and old, middle class, working class, the upper classes. So many people don’t understand the relationship between what comes into the home and the fact that it’s got to live somewhere. Truly, everything in your home is going to need a home. And if you don’t get this basic principle of eliminating clutter then the chances are pretty good that you will be surrounded with clutter all the time.
There is one really significant way to avoid clutter and that is this: be judicious about every single thing you bring into your space. Whatever comes through front door before it crosses the threshold, you want to be able to answer the question, “Where is this going to live?”
What I have learned along the way is most of the people who call for organizing help are more right brained in their thinking than not. Musical, artistic, and creative, they bring beauty and light and fun into the world. But so many of these brilliant people feel an incredible lack of control in their lives. They put papers down that quickly get buried by other household items, they chronically cannot find their keys, and unless they’ve worked really hard to create some type of structure in their home, they are beleaguered and frustrated by the amount of “stuff” that seems to find a way into their space 24/7.
With the research coming out of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, I’ve shifted the way I work with clients, orienting the work more toward brain type, how they think, and what makes them tick. I’m coming to trust that most people are naturally resourceful, creative and whole (thanks Denslow Brown) and my mission is to help them see that. I believe that people do have the answers once their given the question: where should this live? At a recent workshop an audience member asked about the 12-piece place-setting that belonged to an aunt she never met. The dishes, unused for more than 2 decades, were taking up valuable space in a kitchen cupboard. She asked “what should I do with them,” and I she spoke, I witnessed the “flash” – the seed of knowing, that while the dishes were useless to her, they could probably be used by someone else. In an email later than day, she wrote to tell me this: “When I heard you say that everything in our home needs a home, I thought about my aunt’s dishes in their current home, tucked away in my kitchen cupboard that I’d rather use for something else. And so I realized that the cupboard was a terrible home for those dishes and in fact there was no good home, in my home, for any of them. I writing this email having just returned from Goodwill with a tax-deductible receipt in hand, and cleared space for the things I really use.”