featured image

Lisa Hess offers three questions to ask yourself when clutter threatens to take over.

We all have them. Those clutter clues that tell us that we—or our organizational systems—are overwhelmed. Sometimes, we know already, and the clutter clues are validation for—or contributors to—our stress. Other times, we think we've got it all together until we see that clutter catcher spot in our homes that tells us that no, we do not. At least not right now.

For me, it's my mail counter. Those who've read Know Thyself know the saga of my mail counter, as well as how long it took me to conquer it. But, when life overwhelms me, my mail counter begins to reveal my drop and run organizational style in a very annoying fashion.

Last week was one of those weeks. End-of-semester tasks left me with a singular focus, and I slipped into dropping the mail and running back to the tasks that were time sensitive. I was sort of aware that I was doing this but, when I came into the house after running an errand one day and was greeted by a pile in a space that was once clear. that put the exclamation point on how much things had been falling by the wayside.

Is this happening at your house? If so, here are three questions to ask yourself when clutter pulls you up short.


Is this a temporary issue, or do I need to rethink the organization in this space? 

When we go through busy patches, life changes, or difficult times, clutter is often our companion. As frustrated as I was by the state of my mail counter, I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Once I got through my incredibly busy week, I’d be able sort the accumulated pile and restore order. But, until then, my sorting method focused on two priorities: making sure everyone got his/her own mail and making sure the bills got where they need to so they’d get paid. If your answer is different, though, consider the next two questions.




Are these items homeless, or do they need new homes? 

Often, clutter accumulates when we don't know where to put things, so we put them down instead of away (drop and run), we cram them into an existing space that may already be overstuffed (cram and jam), or we put them in any old space where there's room (I know I put it somewhere). In those last two scenarios, the clutter is often behind closed doors or hidden in a drawer, but those of us with drop and run organizational styles are more obvious.

To be honest, my drop and run organizational style has led to a few things that aren't mail landing on the mail counter (on more than one occasion). Still, this is validation for my conclusion that this is a temporary situation, not a sign I need to do an organizational overhaul. Different situation at your house? Sort the clutter into two piles: what belongs and what doesn't. Put the things that belong back and concentrate on finding real homes for the rest.




Do I need a new container, or time to restore this one?

Sometimes the pretty container or the one we had on hand doesn't do the trick and it needs to be replaced by something more efficient. That might mean choosing something larger, or finding something with drawers that allow us to corral the clutter in a way that makes sense to us. Try emptying the overflowing container onto a table and sorting from bottom (where the older items are) to top.

If this sorting process leaves you with a pile that fits back into the container (without overflowing), your work is done (if you want it to be). If not, consider what you need to keep this space under control. Keep your styles in mind, and maybe even go for something pretty or unusual.

Click to tweet:
Three questions to ask yourself when clutter threatens to take over. #catholicmom

We all have times where clutter wins the organization battle. But, by being honest with ourselves and using our styles to create long-term solutions, we can win the war.

And remember, it's a process. 

Copyright 2022 Lisa Hess
Images: Canva