For years, I had a “put together” living room. It was the room I kept immaculate no matter what, in case someone popped over. Because my hand-me-down couch was 70’s-era brown and orange floral, I spent several minutes each day tucking in and straightening a velour couch cover. I had the matching pillows, a beautiful entertainment center, and the shiny wood piano my husband played. There wasn’t a stray book, paper, or dish to be found.
But the other rooms were a different story. My desk looked like an avalanche of papers and books. My kitchen drawers were crammed with various cooking tools, some of which I hadn’t used since I bought them. My closet was a mishmash of wardrobes consisting of several sizes. Homeschool books and other materials covered every flat surface.
I spent too much time looking for things and trying to organize way too much stuff. I was the master of the dash and stash. Everyone thought I was a well-organized and capable housekeeper, but my messy Marvin tendencies were a problem.
Here’s the irony — because I wasted so much time trying to look like I had it all together, I never actually had it all together. My thinking was as cluttered as the hidden parts of my home.
As long as my thinking was cluttered, my home would be too.
I’ve learned that there are three ways our cluttered thinking prevents us from getting clutter out of our homes:
Comparing Ourselves to Others
Our journey isn’t going to look like another person’s. We all have different reasons we’re overwhelmed with clutter, so our solutions can’t all be exactly the same.
We’ve all seen photos of perfectly decorated rooms on Facebook or Pinterest without a single speck of dust, let alone clutter. But what we can’t see outside the angle of the camera lens is the piles of stuff the photographer doesn’t want you to see.
Rather than giving up and deciding that you’ll just hide it, consider your reasons for wanting to declutter.
Often our motives for doing something indicate whether we’ll be successful. Our big wins come with the right motivations.
Do you want to impress others and look good? Or do you want to declutter so that you can be free to do what you’re created to do?
All or Nothing Mentality
Sometimes we look at our twenty years’ worth of clutter and decide that it isn’t going away anytime soon, so we might as well not even try.
At first, 15 minutes a day doesn’t seem like it would be effective, but after several days in a row, I saw victory in one section of my house. Then I wanted to take back another section, so I kept going.
After awhile, I noticed that I spent less time looking for missing books and cooking utensils. I also spent less time “tidying up” when we expected company. The realization that I will never be “done” decluttering gives me the peace and sanity I need to continue with a faithful decluttering routine that frees me up to do better things.
Rather than feeling lousy about how much decluttering we have left to do, we become more productive when we achieve small gains that add up to big victories over time.
One and Done (Wishful) Thinking
If we look at decluttering projects as a big monster project to tackle, we’ll become discouraged when we realize that the same space just gets cluttery all over again. That’s because we haven’t resolved the real issue: decluttering is like brushing your teeth—it’s much more effective if you stay on top of it and do it regularly, rather than expecting your twice-per-year dental visits to maintain dental health.
Kerri Pomarolli, comedienne and author, writes, “Aren’t most of us constantly feeling as though we are in a race but we have no idea where the finish line is?”
That’s how I’ve come to think about clutter. No finish line. But we can have success with an established regular routine.
Enter the Drawing!
Harvest House has generously offered our readers the chance to win five copies of Kerri’s new book, Confessions of a Proverbs 32 Woman: How I Went from Messed Up to Blessed Up Without Changing a Single Thing.
One grand-prize winner will also win:
Kerri’s devotional book, She Rises Late and Her Kids Make Her Breakfast
To enter, leave us a comment.
What is one way you plan to change your thinking to unblock your clutter-free efforts?