In every house, there is a place called Clutter Island. Or maybe at your house, they call it Clutter Desk or Clutter Staircase. It’s that place in the house where everyone sets their stuff. The stuff you walk in the door with, throw down and never quite manage to put away.
My kitchen has an awesome layout. Right in the middle is this big island with extra drawers and cupboards and best of all, an expanse of counter space. Unfortunately, we never see it because it’s always covered with our stuff. My husband and I call the kitchen island Brigadoon. Because we only see it once every hundred years.
When I walk in the door of my home, I am usually toting a baby, a diaper bag that could be its own planet, handfuls of mail, bags of groceries, or some other combination of things I have to put down before I can function. For the sake of getting us all in the door, I tend to drop a lot of what I’m carrying on my kitchen island.
I rarely pick it up again.
Chances are you have areas of your home cluttered with everyday items that never quite get put away. I refuse to believe I am the only one. Waiting until you have time for a major clean up to get things put away can keep your house feeling untidy. And it’s stressful to be surrounded by mess.
I’m working hard to tame the clutter in my home. I’ve come up with a few ideas that work, at least most of the time. And they may help you if you struggle to keep things picked up and put away on a daily basis.
Right now I am focusing on one area of my home to de-clutter because it’s the one that bothers me the most. It’s front and center in the kitchen in my open concept home. It’s the first thing anyone sees when they come in. And when it’s messy, the whole house looks like a mess.
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An Idea for Change
My de-cluttering plan was initially inspired by the Just Clean Something Challenge on simplyrebekah.com. This challenge workbook is meant to inspire you to stop making excuses and just clean something every day. I am a big fan of using challenges to motivate yourself and get things done. When I looked around my house the thing most in need of cleaning is our kitchen island.
So, I cleaned the island the first day of the challenge. The problem is a day later it needed cleaning again. And the next day it needed cleaning again, and so on. The challenge helped me start cleaning one thing daily, but cleaning the same thing every day was unlikely to get me to a clean house.
My family has gotten into the habit of using the island as our place to set the stuff we don’t know what to do with it. Or don’t want to deal with. We had to break this habit before I would see lasting change.
Replacing Bad Habits
Cleaning off the island only to have the clutter reappear a day or two later was clearly a losing strategy. I needed a plan for more permanent clutter removal. I’ve learned from past attempts at making changes that just trying to stop doing something rarely works. We need to replace our bad habits with new good habits.
5 Steps to a Clutter-Free Island
1.Clear off the island once a day
I decided to clean off the island during my after dinner dishes and kitchen clean-up. A few weeks ago I completed Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Evening Course, which I highly recommend. The course walks you through creating an evening routine to set you up for success the next day. Part of my evening routine is a nightly kitchen clean up. Cleaning off the island rolls into that kitchen clean-up routine nicely.
- Put Stuff Away Right Away
Instead of setting every transient object I pick up on the kitchen island, I can put it where it actually belongs. I live in a small house. In most cases, this is a matter of a few steps. It’s just taking the time to do it right away instead of spending a larger chunk of time on major clean up later.
- Don’t Create a New Clutter Spot!
It’s important that I don’t keep the island clear by simply setting my piles of stuff somewhere else. This seems obvious but I find myself piling my stuff on other kitchen counter space in my attempt to keep the island clear. Not exactly a useful strategy for clutter-free living.
- Find New Homes for Stuff
The island has become the place for my diaper bag and the mail. I set my keys there and dish towels that are not quite clean, but not quite dirty. These items actually have no other designated spot at my house. So I need to create one. And it needs to be easily accessible when I walk in or in the area I need these things.
This is something I am still working on. My diaper bag, which doubles as my purse, is the size of a suitcase. It takes up quite a bit of real estate. There isn’t a convenient place to hang towels in my kitchen. The mail doesn’t have anywhere else to go where I won’t forget about it. I actually need to solve each of these problems as part of clearing off the island for good.
- Reward Yourself
Having a clear, clutter-free counter space should be enough of a reward by itself. But if that were true, we would never have had this problem. I do much better making long-term changes when I reward myself along the way. For every week we keep the island clutter-free, we get a trip to Dairy Queen, or to rent a movie. Something that makes the effort a little more worthwhile.
My quest to keep the island clear is an ongoing one. But so far, I’m making progress. As you can see in the photo, I have a clear island at the moment. Now I just have to keep it that way.
Next, I’ll have to tackle the computer desk, my other clutter repository.
Is there an area of your house where everyone tends to pile their junk? If it bothers you, have you considered ways you might break the habit? Any useful tips?