21 Reasons We Have Clutter in Our Homes
Updated: Apr 26
What is Clutter?
Clutter can be one thing out of place or many things gathered together in a disorderly manner. Clutter can cause anxiety and stress for some people, and go unnoticed by others. In this blog post, I share 21 reasons we have clutter in our homes.
Decluttering vs. Organizing Clutter
Before minimalism, I organized clutter. I hid stuff in baskets and forgot about them. I sorted by category and kept it all. Stuff upon stuff.
After learning how to declutter and not backfill with more shopping, I used each opportunity to declutter as a way of living with even less. Now, I organize what I choose to keep rather than organizing clutter.
Household clutter makes it hard to find things we know we own. The solution is to have a home for each and every item, but that takes practice, habits, and time. Time to decide what to keep, what to declutter and where to organize the rest.
Research shows that we lose up to nine items every day - or 198,743 in a lifetime. The daily loss calculated over a year means an incredible 3,285 items are misplaced every 12 months - or just under 200,000 bits and bobs over the course of 60.5 adult years. And a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days is spent searching for stuff, over our lifetimes (source).
Why do we have clutter?
our habits allow for clutter to gather (I'm guilty still today sometimes!)
items do not have a designated "home" in our home
we have too much stuff
items need organization
we don't recognize it as clutter
"what if" and "just in case" hold us back
we are unsure of how to let things go
we carry financial guilt
we hold onto gifts we don't want due to "gift guilt"
emotional guilt weighs on our hearts and minds
we are clutter blind and don't know where to start
we save items to use as our fantasy future self
we keep items that connect us to our past selves
we do not have enough space for the stuff
it's not our clutter (spouse, partner, roommate, children, empty nest)
we do not have time to declutter or organize your stuff
we downsize homes but don't downsize belongings
we have anxiety and it manifests as clutter
we suffer from depression
we hoard or have hoarding tendencies
Depression and hoarding are serious illnesses and I urge you to seek medical care if you have symptoms.
Please note that I deliberately used "we" and "us" in these 21 reasons. I've experienced most of these and came close to #21. I was not diagnosed with a hoarding disorder, but we had rooms we could not use, exits we could not access in a fire, triplicates of stuff I didn't even know we had. I felt constant anxiety from the clutter and from my inability to deal with the items. These 21 reasons beg the question... how can we reduce clutter?
Check out this infographic detailing 5 ways you can reduce clutter.
Which of these reasons did you connect with when thinking of your home?
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In this video, I tackle understanding two reasons I have a "clutter closet" in our home.
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