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The Real Cost of Clutter


living in a cluttered home costs you more than you think.

Clutter is everywhere in this season of life.  If I’m not careful, I can easily drown in random papers, dishes, toys and laundry.  Let’s not even talk about the laundry.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how much clutter costs me. Here’s a few examples:

1. The cold weather sets in and I finally need a warmer jacket. I know I have a cute red one that I bought last year, but where is it!?!? I search EVERYWHERE. I can’t find it, and I can’t go without a decent jacket, so its off to the store to buy a replacement. I find the original red jacket two weeks later. Cost= $20 (I bought second hand), lots of stress, wasted minutes looking, and time spent selling or donating the old jacket.

2. Tax Time! I generally have my papers all in one place, but there are always one or two missing statements. I can’t find them, so I do my taxes without them and don’t claim the things that would be on those missing papers. Cost= I could have owed less taxes or gotten more money back.

3. I’m walking through my house and I feel anxious. There’s just so. much. stuff. How have I been decluttering for 5 years and it’s still not enough!?! Where do I even start? Should I start? I need to be in a slightly angry mood to have a good decluttering day. Cost= Mental health and productivity.

4. I want to get started on a new project, but there’s no space to do it, and I can’t find half the things I need to do it. Now what would have taken an hour takes all afternoon because I have to clean off the table first, spend another 30 minutes finding the supplies, and then the actual hour to do the project. Then because everything took longer than I expected, I don’t put everything away because it’s time to teach or pick up Dominic. The cycle begins again. Cost= Lots of time, frustration, and beginning the cycle all over again.

So how do I break the cycle?

Over the 5 years I’ve been trying to declutter and be a neater person in general, I’ve made a lot of progress in the amount of stuff I own. Things are rarely ever more than 30-60 minutes of tidying away from being clean. However, I’d like my house to be tidy at the end of every day.

I do have 2 little success stories though: my clothes (except that jacket!!) and my coffee cupboard.

A peaceful, decluttered coffee cupboard.
Yes, my tea kettle is labelled incorrectly. I’m getting to it!!

Why have I been able to keep those two spots reasonably tidy?

For my clothes, once I did the Kon Marie method and felt the peace that came with having just enough, I became merciless at constantly editing. Every Spring and Fall when I switch over my clothes, I get rid of anything I haven’t worn or don’t love. If I notice something in that category as I’m doing laundry, I immediately put it in the give away bag.

I’ve also started buying all my new clothes in just a few colours that I love and look good on me. I noticed that the clothes I gave away were always the ones that didn’t fit in well with the rest of my wardrobe. It may seem boring, but there’s a certain peace from knowing that all my clothes for that season work well together.

As for the coffee cupboard, I think it works because everything has a home and everything is labeled. I used a chalk pen directly on the shelf. Then I can change things up if needed.  It seems crazy to label every little thing, but if it brings me mental peace, then its worth it.  It also eliminates random clutter in those shelves.  Since everything is labelled, I think twice before putting something random in that spot.

The other way I’ve been trying to break the cycle is to really think about my purchases.  Do I really need another x?  Do I have something already that could meet that same purpose?  Will it actually fit in my house??  Or even better, am I buying this thing to try and fit in or be a certain type of person that I’m not?  Urgh.  I hate to admit that last one, but I think all of us have been guilty of that at one time or another.

Do I have all the answers?  Definitely not.

But I know that I’m not the only one out there that struggles with clutter, especially those of us who are in the thick of raising little people!!  (Can we talk about toy clutter?  Maybe that’s another post altogether. . . )

Right now I’m finishing painting our kitchen.  I’ll be sharing with you in a future post my decluttering process for the hot spots there.  My kitchen is small and short on counter space, but I’m determined to make it work!

Any decluttering or organizing tips you want to share?  I’m not naturally organized, so I’d love to hear them!

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!