The Clutter We Are Blind To.

So this was under our bed. Ahem.

Look around you. The room you’re sitting in. Is it reasonably tidy?

I’m in our TV/play room. At first glance I’d say, “Yeah, it’s tidy. The usual pillows on the floor, drink bottles, toys and blankets. Tidy-ish.”

But I want you to look. Really look at each surface in that room. Each table, each shelf, each piece of furniture, the floor. Under the table, under the lounge, on the floor. Little piles of things that have nowhere else to go. Or that have been left out of place for so long, you figure that must be where they belong.

Our tidy-ish room is, in fact, strewn with clutter. Clutter that I didn’t even see at first.

We become so accustomed to being surrounded by it, that we struggle to even identify clutter. But it’s there. Subtly stressing us out. Quietly creeping over the flat surfaces in our homes. Stacking up in corners or drawers or behind books on shelves.

If we can’t see it, then it’s not a problem. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

How are we expected to rid our lives of this clutter we’re blind to?

There are two ways to identify and clear this invisible clutter:

1. Take a photo.

Take photos of the room or space you want to declutter. Spend a few minutes capturing the room from different angles, as well as specific shelves, cupboards and flat surfaces.

Then study the photos for clutter.

You will be shocked by how much clutter we simply don’t see in our daily lives. For whatever reason, when we look at a photo of the exact same space, we can clearly spot the clutter.

Once you know where it is, tackle one small part of the room at a time. And don’t move on until that space is completely clear of crap.

2. Use the laundry basket method.

This post covers what is quite possibly the most useful trick in tidying your house – quickly.

Grab your basket, find a cluttered corner, cupboard or shelf and take away absolutely everything that does not belong there. Everything.

Once the basket is full, take it to your dining table and sort the contents into:

  • rubbish
  • room-by-room (ie a pile for your bedroom, the bathroom, linen cupboard etc)
  • parts of a set (use the opportunity to put the pieces back together)
  • recyclables
  • donations

Then put everything in place before moving on to the next part of the room.

Both of these methods will help banish that invisible clutter. And you will feel inexplicably light. Because even the clutter we can’t see weighs us down.

So what room do you most need to clear of invisible clutter?

These posts have some great tips for decluttering, if you’re in need of some additional motivation:

How To Start
Do You Have a Declutter Mantra?
Tips on Tackling the Toybox

3 Responses to The Clutter We Are Blind To.

  1. Brooke–so happy you are blogging again. Have been crazy-busy and unable to comment until now. Love your suggestion to take a photo to see the clutter that’s invisible to you. I didn’t realize how much we had until I started taking photos of our spaces for blog posts. And you’re right: It feels much better to have it gone.

    • Thanks Rita! The photo thing really surprised me too – but it seems to short-circuit the part of our brain that ignores the long-term clutter. Who knew!?

  2. Remember the tv program, “Name That Tune”? The contestant says, “I can name that tune in ___ notes.” My mantra for decluttering is, “I can clean that room in ___ minutes!” It has worked for me since 1991, when I did my first clean-up, clean-out.