Clutter – Causes, Fixes, and Methods for Simple Living

Clutter is one of those things that can sneak up on us when we’re not paying attention, then we blink and we’re surrounded.  It can collect in any room, at home and at work, but there are ways to prevent it taking over your space.

Clutter is the stuff that tends to collect in places at home and work that you don’t need and takes up space. Different types include sentimental clutter, project clutter, and kitchen clutter. Taking the time to sort out what you need and don’t can keep your home uncluttered and stress free. 

Do you feel like the clutter is starting to collect around your house?  Are you feeling like it might be time to do something about all of the excess stuff?

What Is Clutter?

Desk clutter - Clutter - Gone Minimal
Desk clutter

Clutter is the stuff around your home or office that you don’t need, you don’t use, or doesn’t serve a purpose.  It’s the extra clothing in your closets, the extra linens in your pantry, the collectibles on the shelves and decorations collecting dust that could be called clutter.  Clutter in the home has been shown to affect well-being negatively, and Dao and Ferrari of DePaul University have also found that clutter in the office or work environment negatively affects occupational stress and even job satisfaction.

Types of Clutter

Clutter can take on many forms and be organized into different types based on the nature of the items or the areas where they tend to accumulate. It’s important to identify the types of clutter in your life and take steps to declutter and organize them effectively. Creating systems and routines for managing physical and digital messes, addressing emotional burdens, and prioritizing time can help you create a more organized and balanced lifestyle.

There are several different types of what we might perceive as clutter and we’re going to take a look at some of them.

Sentimental Clutter

Sentimental clutter are those things we collect over the years that remind us of special events and people.  This could be many things like your ex’s t-shirt, ticket stubs from that awesome concert, your old favorite teddy bear, or the hairbrush your mom used to use.  These items can mean a great deal to us, but they can also take up space and add stress to our lives.

Keep things simple - Clutter - Gone Minimal
Keep things simple

Project Clutter

You know when you have a project or craft you do around the house and you’ve got to buy all those supplies to get the final product you want?  It’s all the leftover supplies that weren’t needed for the project that hang around and take up space.  We think “why buy that wreath for $50 when I can spend $150 on supplies and make it myself?” and then we haven’t saved time or money.

Storage Clutter

Then there’s those storage solutions and containers you collect to store all of your excess stuff.  The containers themselves can become clutter, taking up valuable space in your closets, under your bed, in your shed and in your garage.  And often that storage is full of nothing but clutter!

Kitchen Clutter

Kitchen clutter could be all of your small appliances sitting out on the countertops (i.e. stand mixer, coffeemaker, can opener, etc.), utensils for cooking, your purse, and the junk mail that keeps piling up. 

Minimal sentimental items on shelf - Clutter - Gone Minimal
Minimal sentimental items on shelf

How to Get Rid of Clutter

Most of the time the best way to get rid of clutter is to prevent it, but that’s not always possible.  While interviewing people about clutter in their homes and how to get rid of it, Sophie Woodward from University of Manchester, UK found a recurring theme that there are certain places in homes that tend to collect clutter despite best efforts to prevent this.  So let’s look at some ways to get rid of clutter in different areas of your home.

In Your House

Clutter can collect in any room in your house, so take steps to get rid of it and prevent its recurrence.  Go room by room to identify what’s clutter and what’s not, where the clutter comes from, and find locations for everything including what might be a collecting spot.  Figure out what you need and what you don’t and get rid of it!

Go room by room to identify what’s clutter and what’s not, where the clutter comes from, and find locations for everything including what might be a collecting spot.

In Your Room

Starting with a room can be easier when getting rid of clutter as it’s a smaller space.  Find those things that don’t serve a purpose and make a pile to get rid of clutter.  What is it that you’re getting rid of-can you prevent yourself from buying or bringing it home again?  Clean up and reorganize and hopefully this type of system will help you prevent the clutter from collecting out of control again!

Declutter 10 types of clutter in this helpful video.

In Your Office

In your office it helps to collect all of the extra supplies and especially mail that tends to pile up.  Use a system to separate the needs from the excesses and get rid of what you don’t need.  Take out the things that others drop off, use the storage solutions on hand, and clear off your desk so you can get back to work!

How to Get Rid of Clutter Quickly

It can be challenging to get rid of clutter quickly when there’s just so much stuff to go through.  Take your time, go room by room, and ask for help.  Also consider using these steps to help you declutter:

  1. Identify which rooms need decluttering.
  2. Set realistic timelines.
  3. Figure out what you need and what are the essentials.
  4. Make piles for donate, sell, and trash.

Go through and clear out those things that are just taking up space and collecting dust in your room.  Once all of the clutter is gone, you can reclaim your space and feel stress free once again!

Related Insights:

What Is Clutter in a House?

Clutter in a house can be many different things-collectibles, decorations, shoes, clothing, and toys often clutter up homes when we get busy with life and work.  Clutter can also be trash, leftovers, junk mail, and some things we just don’t want to think about.  If it’s something you don’t need, takes up space, and stresses you out it’s probably clutter!

Gathering cuts the clutter - Clutter - Gone Minimal
Gathering cuts the clutter

Why Do People Keep Cluttering?

Some people keep cluttering because it’s just part of their daily routine.  Other people keep cluttering because they simply cannot get rid of things.  Work keeps us busy, life takes us in many different directions, children take precedence over cleaning, and bad things happen.  People tend to prioritize differently which can lead to clutter accumulating.

What Is Classed as Clutter?

Clutter is defined as a collection of untidy things that are unkempt and lay about without any organization.  This could be anything from antiques to books, seasonal items to broken items, bargain items to bulk items you just didn’t need even though the price was right.

What People Consider To Be Clutter

I asked 5 friends/family to list 5 things that they consider clutter. Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

ClutterTally of Family/Friends
Clothing on the floor3
Teenager’s room2
Unorganized desk4
Messy bathroom countertops3
Untidy garage4
Shoes on the floor2
Charge cords3
Personal care items2
Hair care items2
Pet accessories1
Donate items you no longer need - Clutter - Gone Minimal
Donate items you no longer need

Other Resources:

Clutter is deceptive because it starts out as something you use once, something you think you might need, or even something you used but your tastes changed.  It can seem overwhelming to try and get rid of it, but it can be done.  Keep in mind what led to the clutter collection and do what you can to prevent it.  Even if that doesn’t work, just keeping on top of it can be satisfying and keep it from being stressful.  Where will you start to get rid of the clutter?

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