Live Simply With Style


To reduce clutter in our homes and in our lives, we must recognize it. It may be the newspaper that takes days to get refolded then recycled. It can be the barrage of paper that arrives in our mailboxes. It might be visible phone books and appliance operating instructions. Clutter can be anything we’ve collected that serves little function in our lives. Or, clutter can be functional items that serve no aesthetic purpose.

Clutter is invited or not. For example, we decide whether to maintain a subscription to newspapers and magazines. One alternative is to have periodicals delivered to our local library. Another option is to read articles on-line in an electronic format.

Although we have little choice over what comes in our mail box, we do have options about what we do with those materials. If we look forward to controlling our mail then, generally, we’ll find processing it a satisfactory experience. Most bulk-mailed items need not be opened. They can be recycled. Try it. It feels good to not clutter our minds with offers for things we really don’t need or want.

Sometimes, stuff we save for a good purpose can get out of control. It can be the coupons we’re clipping for groceries and toiletries. It can be the articles we’re saving for our next project. It can be the materials we use to ship packages. In areas such as these, it’s best to devote specific spaces to each purpose. For example, coupons can be organized in a handy file that can be carried into the store. Similarly, establish file folders for ideas on vacations, home improvements, garden plantings, craft projects, recipes, et cetera. A file cabinet will keep this information at our fingertips—so much easier to find than if the clippings were stacked on top of one another on a tabletop or shelf. When stuff such as packing materials outgrows its allotted space, reorganize and recycle or discard the excess. Often, small businesses that ship products will welcome extra boxes. Attempt to keep on-hand several sizes of boxes and a small amount of bubble wrap or Styrofoam peanuts.

Items such as phone books or operating instructions need to be handy to the appliance. Rooms, however, looks better if such clutter is out of sight. Try to locate these materials in the closest drawer or cabinet.

Look at drawers, cabinets, and closets with an analytical eye. It can be an enlightening experience to ask: “Why is this here?”, “Am I using this?”, “Do I need to keep this any longer?”, “How much is enough?” It’s amazing how much stuff can be let go.

Another tactic to prevent clutter is to not buy it. When shopping, ask: “Do I really need this item?” Whether it’s a necessity or a nicety, know what item it’s replacing.

The trick with clutter appears to be recognizing it and controlling it—not letting it control us. As with most material things, the more clutter we have the less freedom we enjoy.


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