If each item has a ‘home’, you can always easily return it to that place and you’ll be able to find it quickly when you need it. However, as soon as something takes a spot that has been designated a home for another thing that is currently not there, things start spiralling into a bad place. Designating a fixed place for your things and putting them back where they belong, into their ‘home’, has a huge effect on the feel-good factor of any home.
I often hear the comment that some small things might not have a designated spot in someone’s home. They do not necessarily need one, really. This sounds like a contradiction, but really it is not. Imagine a home where everything has a place, ‘everything’ meaning all the stuff that is usually sitting around: furniture, decorations, books, cushions… and then something new comes along and has not been assigned a spot. Two situations present themselves: if it is a permanent fixture, it needs a place. If you cannot find one, you have to make a choice and let go of something because clearly, there is no space to accommodate the new thing. If the new thing is temporary, like a pile of papers or something to store for a while, you need to find a place that is ‘an assigned home for temporary visitors’, like a ‘stuff guest home spot’. Many of us have those semi-assigned home spots already: that bowl in the hallway with all the bits and bobs in it, or a drawer containing all kinds of misfits that do not go anywhere.
Yes: there is a reason to allow for those spots as well, provided they are not simply dumping grounds, but are managed spaces of their own right. Setting aside a spot to dump things and forget about them is never a good idea. What you want is a space that allows you to temporarily place items big or small, and then address them when you are ready. But address them you must!
Clearing out things that have no use or are temporary, or have been forgotten, is one of the big issues with keeping a home clutter-free. We tend to forget those things and let them attract more stuff over time, until there is a clutter zone of epic proportions somewhere in our homes. These items have to be sorted and cleared out properly: either you place them where they belonged in the first place, or you find a proper new home for them, or you get rid of them. Those are simple choices, but they have to be made sooner rather than later.
Personally, I’m no fan of these temporary spaces because I feel they are the top end of a slippery slope that can easily end with a huge clutter mess on our hands. But I also understand they are a necessity to keep us sane. While it is useful to assign spaces to important items, I realise nobody is going to assign a home for each needle and spoon and toy in the house. We are humans, after all, and we do work well with flexibility. Feel free to use that flexibility where it serves you. However, when you find that you have become too lenient and things are starting to slide, get in there and start cleaning and clearing.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.