When I decided to write a blog about clutter, I first wanted to see what other organizing professionals were saying. I Googled, “different types of clutter” and looked at only the postings on the first page of 9,240,000 results. The articles listed 3 to 17 various types or labels of clutter.
I’ve come to the conclusion there are a lot of clutter labels or types. In assessing clutter, it’s not the label or types that are important—it’s the generic definition that matters. So how can you identify clutter and eliminate it?
Definition of Clutter
Clutter is anything with no reasonable foreseeable use. In other words, if you cannot predict or anticipate the use of something in a time not long from now then it falls into the category of clutter.
Not too long ago, I was working with a retired professional, who — on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being totally organized — had a home I would have rated 7 or 8. The only problem was that she had retained various possessions which might have been perfectly acceptable to have in your home a decade or two ago. But it was 2018, and these things — a tape deck, 8 tracks, CDs, etc. — were no longer useful. She also had numerous books, which based on their new condition, had never been read. Finding a home for her unwanted items is important to her. Throwing things away was always her last resort.
When she was preparing to give items away, she'd allocate time to craft detailed descriptions for each item and then post them on her favorite social give-away platform to identify anyone who might want or need the item. Then she follows up with an interview to determine the best candidate for each item. Yes, this is a lot of work and most of us probably wouldn’t dedicate this much time, but for my client finding a home for her unwanted items has always been that important.
While working with her on eliminating unwanted items, she explained that after our last purging session, about two years ago prior, she was able to find new homes for her old things. She said, once she had given away, donated, sold, and recycled all she could, she put everything left out on the sidewalk. She lined everything up nicely and waited for the sanitation truck. To her surprise and pleasure by the time the sanitation truck arrived, there was only an old Teddy bear remaining.
My client stood at her porch door, waiting for the sanitation worker to throw the bear into the truck’s compactor. Instead, the worker picked up the bear, looked at it like a lost treasure, and attached it to the front of the truck to make it the mascot. My client was overjoyed that even the sanitation worker found a home for her final piece of clutter!
How to Address (Purge) Clutter:
If you are struggling with clutter, know that you’re not alone. Letting go can bring up all kinds of emotions. I get that most people want to see their stuff continue to be useful if not with them, then with someone else. Most people subconsciously hold on to unwanted items because they do not know how to usefully eliminate them.
Unwanted possessions can continue to bring usefulness to others by using one of these five options listed below:
Put in Storage
There is a sixth option that we must all accept although it is the least liked but a necessary evil.
Throw-away should be applied to broken and/or damaged items. Of course if you are trying to remove clutter and none of the five preferable options work, then “throw-away” is the only option.
Take solace in knowing that if you put those remaining items out nicely on your sidewalk or driveway, a few hours before sanitation pick-up, most likely others in the community will find a new home for your discarded possessions. In any case, most things you throw-out will probably never see the garbage dump!
Some additional Tips
Addressing clutter takes action and a schedule. Set deadlines for the elimination of unwanted items. Do not allow items to remain in your home beyond the deadline.
Regardless of promises made by those you offer items to, it is extremely important to honor you deadlines. Give those who have offered to take your items a deadline for pick-up and let them know it will not be available after the deadline. Once you have reached the cut-off date, it will be time to use the sixth step: throw-away. If you follow the steps and then, like my client, place your unwanted items respectfully on the on the sidewalk or in your driveway, you too should have very few, if any, items that end up in the landfill.
Most Common Types of Clutter – The Spruce (https://www.thespruce.com/most-common-types-of-clutter-2648000)
4 Types of Clutter and How to Banish Them — The Aligned Life (https://www.thealignedlife.co/4-types-of-clutter-how-to-banish-them/)
Do You Know the 3 Types of Clutter – Danielle Tate (https://danielletate.org/the-types-of-clutter/)
6 Types of Clutter & Why to Let Go — Spa Finder (https://www.spafinder.com/blog/mindset/types-clutter/)
What is Clutter? Defining the Many Types — Inspired Everyday Living (http://www.inspiredeverydayliving.com/2012/04/26/what-is-clutter-defining-the-many-types/)
How You Can Break Free from Physical Clutter — Danielle Tate (https://danielletate.org/types-of-physical-clutter/)