Are you a clutter bug?

  • Do your guests have to put their coats on the washing machine/dryer or on your bed when they come to visit?
  • Do you park outside your home because your garage has some much clutter you can't fit it in?
  • Have you squirreled away boxes of greeting cards you bought on sale years ago and barely remember having?
  • Do you keep old receipts and purchase receipts, even though none of them has any relevance to personal record-keeping or income taxes?
  • Are you reluctant to toss out old newspapers and magazines because you might want to read them someday when you have time?
  • Do you dread opening a closet door, for fear that something may slide or roll off a shelf and land on our head?
  • Are there so many CDs, DVD's and videotapes plunked on so many shelves or in boxes so many parts of the house that you are hard pressed to know exactly what discs or films you own or where exactly to find them?
  • Do you avoid entering your attic or basement because so much junk is piled up there that you can barely find room to stand or walk?
  • Are there years old cans of paint undated and unlabeled gathering dust and rust in your garage, basement or tool shed?
  • Do you keep outfits that you haven't worn in years and hope you might fit into them again once you lose the excess pounds?
  • Is your basement or attic stuffed with shopping bags and sagging boxes whose contents represent some of your family's greatest treasures?
  • Do you have envelopes of pictures all over the house that you have no idea where to find any particular photo of your child? One day you hope to put it together when you have the time.
  • Are your closets so packed with clothing that you can't physically separate what you like to wear from what no longer looks good on you?
  • Your morning schedule is crazy since your children don't know what to wear or what to eat for breakfast? And when you leave the house it looks like a hurricane hit it!
  • You are overwhelmed with the thought of packing for a family vacation week?
  • The thought of doing laundry has become such a chore you avoid it?

If you answered yes to five or more of the following questions you are a clutter bug and might need help from a professional organizer.

cluttered_kitchenWhat is clutter and where does it come from

Well, according to our friend Webster Webster

CLUTTER : to run in disorder

1a : a crowded or confused mass or collection

1b : things that clutter a place

2: interfering radar echoes caused by reflection from objects (as on the ground) other than the target

3 chiefly dialect : disturbance, hubbub



Everything in your house has a purpose. Some are very functional such as silverware, while others are purely aesthetic like sculpture. There is nothing wrong with any of these items inherently. The issue arises when for lack of space or organization, we find ourselves with excessive items which lead us to clutter. This can include a variety of items throughout your home. Obvious culprits are often mail, shoes, and laundry. But what about the mixer sitting on the counter that is used twice a year or the twenty knick knacks across the top of the upright piano. Clutter?
Yes, it can be.

But, where does it come from...
Visualize with me just for a second. Imagine when you were moving into your current space. Before you moved, you packed and inevitably discarded, donated, or sold items that you no longer wanted or needed. Then you finished packing your boxes, moved them and unpacked. Not everything found a home in your new space and you may have ended up with boxes in storage either on site or else where. Fast forward a year, two, five ten, fifteen, or maybe twenty years?!? Think about all the items you have brought into your space since you moved there. Think about all the gifts you received and brought into your space. Now, think about how much has left since you moved into your space. Do you make regular donations? Do you sell valuables that you no longer use? Do you throw away broken, stained or damaged items that can not be repaired? (That was just one example of where clutter comes from, i.e. time and collecting.)

Other sources of clutter may be inheritance, shopaholic, downsizing, indecisive, or mobility just to name a few... What ever the cause, (let me mention that we are not trying to point fingers or blame), it is best to identify it and start to address it sooner than later.

Do you have clutter?
Each of us has our own view of clutter. While one person may like a minimalist style of home d├ęcor, they may be burdened with paper clutter. Conversely, while another person may like to have lots of knick-knacks on display (and it may look cluttered to the minimalist), they are quite organized. This is when we go back to the definition and look a little harder. Three words that stick out to me are disorder, confused and disturbance. Here are a few question to ask about your space:

  1. Can you find what you are looking for within five minutes?
  2. Are your horizontal surfaces clear? (Counters, tables, dressers, etc)
  3. Do your belongings interfere with the function of spaces within your home. (i.e. cant use a closet because there are piles of newspapers in from if it.)
  4. Is the safety of the occupants at risk?

Questions? Feel free to ask here or message me. I will follow this up with a post on different types of clutter (I know we have a few eager to talk about paper clutter!), and how to start to tackle your clutter.

Cynthia Braun is a certified professional organizer for Suffolk County, New York