I’m going to let you in on a secret. I have an area right inside the garage door that is always cluttered. Every other area of our house is labeled and OCD organized, but is where I unload my car and purse after long days of networking and working in homes. It is my catch-all. As much as my catch-all bugs me, I know I can find lots of important things (my sunglasses, car keys, the business card of the carpet cleaner I met last week, and probably even a new issue of my favorite magazine) in that little area.
Many times we are brought into a house that has clutter. It is normal for even the most neat and tidy person to have one or two areas that become the “catch-all” for clutter. These areas are usually near the door they enter the house or in a space they spend a lot of time. Most people have one or two of these areas. They are typically small, can be cleaned up in a matter of a few hours ,and the home-owners usually we have a healthy love/hate relationship with these areas. They feel comfort in knowing these areas hold all their “treasures,” but they hate how the areas look.
This type of clutter is usually solved with the help of a label maker. Seriously. If you determine what is in your catch-all areas, buy boxes and baskets to hold all those items, and then label those boxes and baskets, the area will stay clean. I don’t know many people who would put their sunglasses in a basket labeled “Mail,” do you? If you don’t believe me, read Organizing from the Inside Out. It’s an amazing book and it will make you a label-maker lover forever.
Is this your clutter?
There is another type of clutter that is not so healthy, though. This is the clutter that takes over a home. Sometimes it comes from a traumatic incident (divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc). Sometimes it just happens because we don’t think we are worthy of having a nice home and nice things. Sometimes we don’t know why it happens. Suddenly though, a person looks around their home and realizes that there are rooms full of boxes, piles of junk, and even garbage all over the floors. They can no longer function in their own home.
Many times a person in this situation becomes reclusive. They may be in a depression that they don’t realize. Or, they may continue to be social and outgoing, but they NEVER invite anyone to their home because they are embarrassed for others to see how they live. They usually think that getting rid of the clutter will solve their problems, but it is quite the opposite because they have already created habits that perpetuate the clutter. In other words, if they hire someone to come in and make the clutter go away, IT WILL COME BACK. The problem is not the clutter, it is the emotional state of the person creating the clutter.
The person/people creating the clutter need to focus on fixing themselves before focusing on fixing their home. This can be done by therapy, working with a life coach or a religious leader, self-education, or other similar forms of counseling. It is a lot of work, and there will probably be a lot of tears and hard decisions, but the reward of truly loving the place you live in is well worth the struggle.
If you are ready to make a change in your living habits, no matter how small or how big, I encourage you to make the call to a professional. Once you call in reinforcements, the battle is already half over.