Thursday, March 8, 2012

What is Causing the Clutter?

As I purge my apartment of things that are no longer useful to me, or in the case of my kitchen, expired, I have to wonder: how did it come to this?  My kitchen, as little as it is, yielded two very full kitchen trash bags.

I ponder this fact because frankly, as much pleasure as I'm getting out of this, I don't want this to be my permanent Lenten challenge.  Maybe every 5 years.  I want to get behind the psychological issues that prevent me from living a clutter-free life.  This month's O Magazine is all about organizing, and it informs many of these reasons.

1. The Thrill of Shopping: If you've ever played The Sims, you know that your Sim gets happy points for getting new stuff.  That's true in reality as well.  Everyone loves to buy something new once in a while, whether they need it or not.  Maybe it's a little notebook or a new pen.  Perhaps its something bigger.  Either way, I have to curb impulse buys.  I should enact the "one in, one out" policy.  Every time I buy something new, something else has to go.  With the kitchen, that's actually pretty simple.  When you run low on food, get more.  With meal planning, a lot less food will go to waste.

2. Left brain vs. right brain: Real Simple did an article a year or so ago about organizing for the left brain and right brain.  When most of us think of organizing, we tap into whatever left brained-ness we have and go to town.  Organizing really satisfies that side of the mind.  However, if you live a right-brained life, as I do, you have to cater to that impulse.  Rather than putting all of your shoes in one place, have a place for them where you usually need them.  For example, Jason and my running shoes live in the foyer, along with our boots.  I have a place in my bedside table for hair stuff and pens, because I always seem to need one.  Don't fight your natural instincts.

3. Emotional clutter: I'm amazed at how many sentimental things I had saved.  Movie ticket stubs for movies I hated; Valentines from people I'm not even Facebook friends with; and old school pictures that fit the same criteria.  It's a major reason that people let clutter into their lives (see: Hoarders), and it is definitely something to consider.

4. Informational clutter: Oh man, this is definitely part of my clutter issue.  Jason and I own close to 350 books.  Now, I am in academia and plan on using many of these books.  We are pretty voracious readers of both fiction (him) and non-fiction (me).  I've also saved a lot of term papers over the years, because I don't want to lose that research.  This has saved me a ton of work over the years.  Even if the topic isn't the same, many of the same issues arise, so I can turn to those papers.  They are organized in plastic pockets in a binder.  I also have an index card box that has all of my research organized.

My kitchen is now organized, and I managed to keep myself to one picture.  The fridge and cupboard aren't much to look at, but the pantry is so much more functional!

This makes me oddly happy.

Like things are with like things.  Elliott's food and supplies are all together, as are Barney's (and high enough that Barney can't scale the shelf and steal treats!).  Baking items and spices are with the mixer.  Paper goods are all together and easy to see, while other food additives are together.  I also used hooks from Ikea to hang the dust pan, plastic bags, and other items from the sides.  It's also organized, but doesn't allow space for other things to move in.  The kitchen clean out is also going to save me a ton of time come moving day.  The fridge is scrubbed, the shelves dusted, and I know what I need to use up before those days.

I enjoy writing about my version of homemaking and life, considering I'm a working mom.  So many lady blogs are by stay-at-home moms, or free-wheeling 20 something moms that I can't identify with.  I hope I can attract a specific audience who feels left out of the 20-something blog world.

- M.