A Clean Life: Let’s Talk About Clutter


We are moving right along with our Clean Life plans…and it’s time to talk about clutter. I know, I know…dealing with “clutter” is not something a lot of people even want to think about, but it’s an essential step in living a happy and content life.

But I have some good news! I have some different thoughts on clutter than a lot of other people who spend time thinking about and tinkering with this sort of thing…some different thoughts that may make dealing with clutter an easier pill to swallow…I hope. 🙂



What Even Is Clutter?


See, this is where I think a lot of “systems” fail…they never define clutter…because it’s tricky. Though clutter is a sneaky beast, I’m going to attempt to cage it with a definition:

Clutter is the stuff that detracts from your happiness and/or functionality.

That’s it.

Notice I put emphasis on “your” in “your happiness and/or functionality.” That wasn’t just a slip of the mouse or the direct result of my enthusiasm for italics. Nope. That’s because clutter varies from person to person.

Clutter varies.

What would be clutter to me may be something that brings you joy…and you absolutely should not get rid of things that bring you joy.

There is a lot of pressure in the Declutter Movement (which I don’t think is officially a thing, but there does seem to be a big decluttering trend) to get rid of so much stuff.

But guess what? Some people really like all of that stuff. Some people thrive when surrounded by things. Some people draw inspiration from chaos. Some people are happy and functional when sitting in the midst of what someone else might call “clutter.”

So, as with so many things, clutter varies. What’s clutter to me may be a source of peace and comfort to you. And that is so, so okay.

Me? My brain won’t be at peace if there are a lot of “things” around me. For one thing, I’m terribly easily distracted, so having things about when I’m trying to function…well, it’s just bad news. I also just feel a sense of peace and contentment when areas around me are clear and “plain.”

But you are not me.

You need to determine your own Clutter Happiness Level. You may be similar to me and want things to be nearly barren…or you may blossom when you’re in a sea of doodads and papers. Only you can determine your Clutter Happiness Level.



Your Clutter Happiness Level


Only you can know your true Clutter Happiness Level, but it’s pretty easy to figure out. Are you totally at peace with the way things are right now? Yes? Great! Then look around…the amount of “stuff” you see is obviously a good amount for you. Do you look around your home and long for some sort of magical creature to show up and rid the place of mess? Then you clearly need to reduce to the clutter to hit that “happy and functional” sweet spot. Do you peek at your surroundings and think things look cold and bare? Then you are one of the rare souls who actually needs to add some clutter. (Yes, this is a thing that exists. Some people actually have too little clutter for their own happiness.)

When is clutter a problem? That’s actually pretty easy to determine!

When you look around your home (or particular areas of your home), do you feel kind of gross on the inside and wish all of that stuff would magically sort itself out?

That’s a clutter problem.

Do you have trouble functioning because of the stuff around you? Are you forever losing things behind other things or skipping necessary tasks (laundry, cooking, getting dressed, washing your pet hedgehog…) because you find it difficult to physically get to the areas you need?

That’s a clutter problem.

Remember: It’s only clutter if it’s preventing you from being happy or functional. Otherwise, it’s just your stuff…and there’s nothing wrong with having stuff.



What If You Do Have a Clutter Problem?


Oh, my dear sweet clutter fiend, the answer is simple and no fun. If the clutter is a problem (if it’s subtracting from your happiness or functionality), you just have to take care of it.

I don’t have a magical plan for you. (I wish I did!)

Pick somewhere to start and get to work. (I suggest starting in the area that causes you the most stress.) Grab a couple of bags or boxes (one for trash and one for donations) and get that party started.

I do have a couple of decluttering tips for you…

  • It doesn’t have to be done all in one day…or one week….or one month. Take it in steps that don’t make you want to put a pencil through your eye. If three minutes a day of dealing with clutter is all you can handle, then set a timer for three minutes and get moving…and repeat that each day until it’s finished. If you’re an “all or nothing” sort, then clear a weekend and get that mess done.
  • When those boxes or bags for trash and donations get full, deal with them. Right then. Don’t set them aside and let those become clutter.
  • If you find it encouraging and motivating to have a friend or family member help you, go right ahead and invite a pal. If another person will be a distraction or a discouraging influence, go ahead and tackle things yourself. If someone is being judge-y and gross, absolutely feel free to eliminate them from the process!
  • Have a plan and know that you can do this.

Always remember: Work with yourself, not against yourself!



Your Homework: Your Clutter Happiness Level


Think about your very own personal Clutter Happiness Level. Are you happy and functional with the way things are right now? If so, that’s fantastic…keep doing you. 🙂 If you’re unhappy or struggling with functioning at a level that pleases you, then really think about what changes you can make…and the amount of “stuff” that creates a sweet spot for your day-to-day peace and contentment.

If you’re in need of some decluttering, make a plan. Are you going to work a few minutes per day? An hour on Saturdays? Are you going to give yourself a weekend, a week, a month, a year? The plan is fully up to you, but do create one. And write it down. And, even more importantly, put it into action.



And never, ever forget that you’re awesome. Awesome!

The next step of A Clean Life will be posted on Sunday (January 15), but I do hope you’ll join me before then to see some of the other shenanigans going on in my life…tomorrow brings another week of Three Things Thursday, and I’ll be babbling about various and assorted things later in the week. 😉 And, just so you know, we are building up to an actual Cleaning Plan with A Clean Life. Get your feather dusters and brooms ready because we’ll be starting that party on January 29. 😀

You can catch up on previous Clean Life posts HERE.



Do you know your Clutter Happiness Level? Do you prefer to be surrounded by lots of things for inspiration and motivation, or would you rather have clean, open areas? Do you need to do some decluttering, or are you perfectly content and happy with things as they are now?

If you’re having trouble determining your Clutter Happiness Level, or if you need help creating a declutter plan, please feel free to ask for help! You can leave a comment here, email me at nerdinthebrain@gmail.com, or drop me a message on Facebook. I promise I’ll be gentle. 🙂


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