Clutter. It’s the silent demon that sneaks into just about every American household at some point during it’s existence. That’s a useful tool, you think to yourself as you grab a zoodler off the shelf at the grocery store and drop it into your shopping cart. Meanwhile your shopping cart is shaking with the stress of the weight of all the items you’ve dropped into it this this trip, wondering just how much more it can take before it lets loose entirely.
Back home you’re cooking your dinner on high heat. It’s time to add a healthy dose of paprika, so you start shuffling through what used to be your spice drawer. Buried somewhere under the egg beater, the whisk, the Peltex, you know it’s there. The dish you’ve been working on all evening is starting to smoke. Do really need the paprika that badly? Eventually your hand finds the paprika jar and you add it to the pan, but it’s too late. The once beautifully crafted dish is now past it’s prime with excessive browning and even blackening.
OK I’ll admit, perhaps this is a little extreme. However, we’ve all experienced the ways in which clutter can slowly creep in and cause extra stress our daily lives. If we aren’t proactive, it’s all too easy for clutter to build up in our homes. Here are some tips for keeping the clutter at bay so that we can all live in a more calm and organized home environment.
Less Is More
The single most impactful way to cut off clutter at the knees is to reduce the number of items we have in our living areas. There are so many reasons why it could have built up in the first place – you’ve added new members to your family (congratulations!), you’ve downsized to a smaller house, you’ve recently acquired new belongings from a lost loved one – but regardless of the cause, unfortunately the only way to eliminate the clutter is to keep the essentials and nothing else.
This is no easy task, to say the least. Many of the items we’ve accumulated over the have sentimental value. Perhaps they were hand made or purchased on a trip, or maybe they were given to you by someone special. Whatever the case it’s understandable, but unfortunately that doesn’t take away from the task at hand. If you’re having a hard time distinguishing which items in your home are truly essential, it can be quite helpful to call a professional organizing services to help you sort through your belongings. One such service is The Transitional Organizer, a professional organizing company in Alexandria. The beauty of services like this is that while they are focused on delivering results, they are also sensitive to the emotions and feelings of their clients. They’ll be able to guide you through the reduction process in a way that makes you feel comfortable and at peace.
Organize by Visual Characteristics
Once you’ve reduced your overall number of items in your living area it’s important that you organize them in a way that makes it very easy to recall their location once it’s time to use them. For reasons built into instinctual human psychology, the most effect way to organize items is by their visual characteristics. This means organizing by color, size, shape, or any other visual cue that is particularly striking about the items you are organizing.
The reason that this is so effective is that your memory tends to associate facts with visual memories. When learning languages, for example, it can be much easier to remember a new vocabulary term if you pair it with a distinctive picture. This is why mnemonic techniques work so incredibly well. The same concept applies to organizing. Rather than thinking “I need paprika”, what really happens is that your mind envisions the spice jar that you’ve seen in the past. If you’ve already gone and put all of your spice jars in one central locations, you’ll instinctively know where to look.
Prioritize By Frequency of Use
With all of your essential items organized by their distinctive visual appearances in a way that makes the nearly instinctual to recall, it’s time to put the finishing touch on your organizational efforts. What you’ll want to do is consider which of your essential items are used most frequently and bring them to the forefront of your storage space. For example, if you cook often and you’re always reaching for the salt, the salt should be closest in reach to your dominant hand (or whichever hand you’re using to add salt), and right at the edge of the shelf.
If you’re one for the extreme, you can even take notes as to which items you use every day and monitor it over the course of a week or so. In many cases your instincts will be enough here, but if you want to take it to the next level that’s the best way to go about it. Keep in mind that your behavior will change over time, so this part is an iterative process.
If you’ve implemented all of these steps then the impact it should have on reducing the clutter in your home will be remarkable. You should be on your way to living a well organized and efficient lifestyle. How has your organizing gone? I’d love to hear your thoughts!