My role as a professional organizer allows me to meet a lot of families and visit many homes. As a working mom and wife myself, I truly enjoy being welcomed into these homes and strategizing new systems to create efficiencies in various rooms and greater functionality in the total household. As someone with first hand experience of working with families in their home environment, I observe how an unorganized environment affects all those who inhabit the home. My goal in sharing these observations is to shed light on how clutter may impact your family, recognize that cluttered environments exists to some extent in every household, and provide you with ideas on how to move forward with decluttering. Let’s start with the five most common ways that I see clutter affecting families.
Loss of family time
Making time for family activities is difficult enough without the added challenge of taming an unruly space. When communal areas are consumed by clutter, it’s difficult to create a space for entertainment. Even something as casual has a board game, or watching a movie becomes less of a relaxing activity and more of a challenge. It’s hard for everyone to gather around the table when it’s buried under a month’s worth of old newspapers and half the chairs have become impromptu coat racks. Spending time with the family involves making room in schedules and in the home. Entertaining of any kind requires free space for people and their belongings. If a room is cluttered with objects, inviting people in feels almost impossible.
As if bills weren’t stressful enough on their own, managing them can quickly become nightmarish in a disorganized home. Rushing to pay bills last minute usually results in late or missed payments, leaving you stuck will easily avoidable fees. Without a system for organizing bills, it’s impossible to prioritize urgent payments and prevent important balances from slipping through the cracks.
When there’s too much to keep track of, it’s easy for items to get lost or misplaced. Nothing is more frustrating than looking for something you swear you just put down, and it can be downright infuriating when something important like a house key or a photo album goes missing. Now you’re stuck with the hassle of replacing locks or frantically searching for something irreplaceable.
Time spent looking for misplaced belongings is extremely unproductive and eats away at our already limited free time. Even a few minutes spent looking for something adds up to an exponential waste, especially in such a schedule driven world. Imagine trying to pack for a trip when your life is scattered around the house and every item you need takes several minutes of frantic searching. The excitement of a vacation is definitely dampened when it takes hours to pack one suitcase, and the cherry on top is inevitably having to come back for something last minute or buy it new at your destination.
When your possessions take over your home, getting a storage unit can seem like a miracle solution to clutter; unfortunately, renting storage can accumulate high costs over time. Depending on the size, location, and special perks like climate control, a storage unit can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 a month! Although it may seem like a good idea to store items that might be useful in the future, rather than buy them new, odds are your belongings will spend months collecting dust in a box. Plus, let’s face it, most people aren’t putting their most precious heirlooms in storage units, which explains the prevalence of storage auctions once a unit is declared abandoned.
If you have identified your family in the examples above, I hope you can understand that you are not alone. So, now let’s discuss a few starting points for decluttering your home. First, start with the area in your home that is the most distressing. Pick the area that impacts you and your family the most and/or the one area that once decluttered will have the most positive change for your family. Second, establish a goal for the space and select a deadline to work towards. Third, follow the SPACE acronym for organizing: sort, purge, assign a home, containerize, and equalize or maintain the space. For more detailed home organizing tips, check out my blog post, “How to Organize Any Space in Your Home.” And, if you need more help, call me! Together, we can come up with an individualized decluttering plan for your home and family. Organizing is a journey, not a destination, and I’d love to help you and your family on your journey!
Co-written with Michaela Gunby