32: The Ripple Effect of Clutter
Welcome to episode 32, of Permission to be Messy. I'm your host, JoAnn Krall and today I'm talking about the ripple effect of clutter as it applies to flat surfaces.
As I was thinking about topics because I'm still waiting to have guests turns out next week. I will be able to set up an office again finally. And so I'll be able to start having guests on the podcast. I'm very excited, but as I was thinking about this episode, the song, one thing leads to another by the fix came to mind my gen X people will most likely know that song.
I'm not going to sing it for you today. But I want you to have that song in your mind when you're thinking about clutter piling up on surfaces.
Have you ever cleared off a surface and you walk into that room and you think it's, clutter-free, I'm going to keep it that way and if you really think about it, all it takes is one item to be put down. And they just multiply like bunnies or, the ripple effect of, you throw a stone and it just creates ripples. There's reasons that this happens and it's not that we can necessarily stop it fully from happening, but there are ways we can combat this. So first, why does it happen?
The first reason is it's convenient and it's accessible to toss something on a counter, especially if it's in a high traffic area. If you come in and you drop the mail, you drop your keys, maybe you're in the middle of doing something. Flat surfaces are really easy to put stuff on. And if we don't deal with an item right away, It's almost like we have some sort of psychological permission to add another item, which I find this really fascinating because I am a surface clutter for sure. But I do notice that when I've cleaned an entire area, I do notice when that first item goes down and I've gotten really good. if it's me, I usually will take care of it right away. But if it's somebody else I'll point it out to them. Because of this reason, because the one thing goes down and it just keeps continuing.
Now sometimes we will put something down as a visual reminder. And in this case, we want to actually find a way to contain these types of things. So if we're putting things down on, say the kitchen counter, because we don't want to forget about it. It's important to just not put it there because. If you don't take care of it right away, other people come along and they put something down or you do it yourself, you keep contributing. Eventually that thing that you were trying to remember, it's just going to get buried and you're going to forget about it. Designating some sort of a bin, or maybe even changing where you're putting the things that you don't want to forget, creating a whole other area for things that you actually need to handle, maybe put it where your desk is. If it's something that has to be, He dealt with on the computer, or if you need to sit down and make a phone call. If it's something that needs to go out of the house, because it's either going to be donated or given away. If it's something that will be okay in the car, depending on the temperatures, go put it in your car right away. Try.obviously, we can't be perfect with all of this. We have to give ourselves grace. But if you get in the habit of making sure that you're not putting that first item down, it's really going to make a difference in this whole process.
You can also try this for a week. Try to practice being mindful about when you're putting things down. It's hard to say, oh, just be mindful all the time. Because we forget and we're busy, but if you could set aside maybe a few days or even just one day, Spend the entire day specifically thinking every time I handle an item and I put it down. Think about whether you want to put it down in that moment? Maybe you do. Cause you have to go do something else, but just pay attention. This really what it is. It's pay attention to the habits, pay attention to what your family members are doing. If your family members are always throwing their keys on the table, and then that contributes to the clutter through the evening. Maybe we set a place for them that's easy for them to put their keys.
So when you're tempted to play something on a flat surface, just pause for that moment. And consider whether you can put it away right away. And, and if it's something that doesn't really have a home, because it's a temporary thing, think about what you could get, maybe a bin or a basket. And put it in that area where you tend to throw all that clutter. And use that basket as a catchall. Now this basket could get messy. if you're doing this method, you want to make sure you have a regular routine of going through it, whether it's, weekly, every other week, it could be daily. It, depends on how much stuff accumulates in there. But you want to make sure you process all that and it doesn't just start overflowing and going into the whole space.
I've heard people talk about visual balance the. It's for some reason, our brain will see something and we almost want to give it a partner. So we will put something with it. The places that are accumulating clutter I think it's really important to keep those free of things that are going to live there. So we're talking knickknacks, or if it's your kitchen counters. make sure that your appliances are put away if they can be put away, but, keeping your kitchen counters as clutter-free as possible will help when you're actually putting something there because it will, it'll stand out more. It'll be very obvious that stuff is building up.
So I've talked about, decluttering on other episodes. obviously there's the general decluttering, but with specifics to the surface stuff it's containing and if you're somebody who is containing with containers, just really be mindful of what's going in there. you don't want to throw an important bill into that and then have other people throwing stuff on top of it.
That used to happen to me in my office. I had an inbox. Where I would put important stuff. And then, because it was right by the door, people would swing by and throw things in it. So you really, if you are the type of person that likes to hide clutter, sometimes a bin is not a great idea.
And after all of this, it can feel like a losing battle. I myself feel this losing battle sometimes. but having those regular routines. I'm going to use my nightstand as an example. My nightstand right now. If you could see me on video is completely cluttered. I know I'm an organizer, but it's completely cluttered. There's a couple of reasons for that. I tend to go through my own, decluttering program that I have it's 29 days. So the nightstand is every 29 days. However, I do maintenance around it, throughout the month, but when I'm doing a full tackle of it, It's once a month.
And the reason why it's built up is because my husband had surgery and I've been taking care of stuff. So I've just let it slide. And that's okay. And sometimes that nightstand will only get cleared off fully every 29 days. And you know what? That's okay for me because if I let it go for four months, it could be way worse.
So you have to know your threshold for mess. when things get really overwhelming, but ideally it would be great to not have to look at it and go. I got to clean this all up and be frustrated. Wouldn't it be nice to never even get frustrated about it, just to know that it is going to happen and it's just like a regular routine of cleaning up. It's just like cleaning. We have to clean, right? It's not like we can avoid dust and dirt.
So again, think about regular maintenance, whatever that means to you. It could be a day, a week, a month. Like I just said, try that mindful placement. for however long makes sense to you and watch what your other family members do, and maybe have a conversation around it. We designate those zones. So maybe if you're listening to this today and you're like, oh, I've got all those cluttered surfaces See what's there. Take an inventory. Not a detailed inventory, but look at what's there and think about maybe why it's happening. Who's the culprit. It could be everybody. And, try to just think about making a plan going forward of designating spaces and obviously doing that regular decluttering
And then one thing I'll leave you with also, my 29 day program that I do. One of the things is doing the top of a dresser. your drawers. You're clothes drawers and, for me, that was one of my biggest hotspots in my bedroom. It was me cluttering it, and it was also family members cluttering it. And my solution was I got rid of it and I ended up getting an amoire because there's no surface to clutter. And that was really a good thing for me to do. And I know not everybody can do that, but that was really helpful for me to just remove a surface. so if that is an option for you, maybe. Maybe you have a big enough closet that you don't need, that, chest of drawers to put your stuff in. Maybe you could have some or, you could put it into your closet. If you have a big enough closet, just removing that surface that you're going to walk by can make a huge amount of difference.
And if you're curious about that 29 day program. I do not sell it anymore a standalone, but it is being incorporated into my, program where I have all of my programs in. So stay tuned for that because I'm going to be, releasing that hopefully, the first week of September, because September is a great time back to school to refresh and get organized.
And if you go through the process in September and October, the holiday season. It's going to feel wonderful. And then, when winter time comes, you can start tackling, those projects like photos.
It's a great time to organize photos in the winter. Especially around the holidays, if you have family members around. Cause it's fun to look at them together. And in that program is also my seven step process to get your paper and your digital files under control. So if a lot of your surface, clutter is paper. That will be helpful to you as well. So hope you have a wonderful day and as always, I'm wishing you much progress, peace, purpose, and of course the permission to be messy. Thanks for listening.