Clutter Defined: What’s Standing in Your Way? by @MelindaMassie


by Melinda Massie | Featured Contributor

In anything organizing-related, you’re going to see the word “clutter” thrown around.

A lot.

I’m certainly guilty of this. “Clutter” sounds much more neighborly than “junk” or “crap.”

The truth is, however, that items that are clutter may be valuable in their own right. The word “clutter,” on the other hand, is…well…generic. Generic makes it hard to know what to let go of and generic definitely isn’t fabulous.

So then what exactly is clutter?

Clutter is anything standing in between you and the house you want.

This means that any item – no matter the expense spent, no matter the value, and no matter whether it can be used or not – is clutter if it doesn’t contribute to your goals. If it isn’t adding then it’s detracting.

You’re worth more than that.

It’s also good to know that clutter is representative of our unmade decisions. When I walk into a cluttered home, I know that what I’m really looking at is weeks, months, or even decades of unmade decisions.

Where will I put this item? I don’t know. Throw it in a drawer. The cabinet. The spare room. The garage.

Garages are where decisions go to die. Don’t let yours die there, too.

So, my Sunshines, now knowing the true definition of clutter, do you have it in your own home? If so, it’s time to make some decisions. Some things to know going in:

  • This can be a tiring process. When we don’t make decisions for a length of time, suddenly switching to making many rapid-fire decisions you’ve been putting off can take it out of you physically and emotionally—especially if you’ve been putting them off for quite some time. I call this “decision fatigue.” When you feel yourself starting to make poor decisions or not wanting to think about it anymore, just pull back and pick up where you left off later in the day, or even the next day.
  • Don’t take on too much at once. It took more than a day or weekend to get to the current state, and will take longer than that to get out. For the majority of people I work with, the focus threshold—that is, the time in which they are making good decisions—is about 2 hours. You’ll be much more successful in your de-cluttering efforts if you spend 30 minutes every day rather than a few hours on the weekend. If 30 minutes is too much to spare, spend 15 or even 5. Every little bit helps. Set a timer, pick an area, and hit it.
  • You may come into deep, dark, nasty stuff. Negative emotional ties to clutter can be a bitch but don’t let this hold you back. If you come across any dark or negative emotions, don’t let your “fight or flight” mechanism kick in. Instead, just sit with it for a moment. Don’t judge it or yourself harshly. Don’t judge yourself at all. It happened and now we’re moving forward. Sit with the feeling, offer it a cocktail, and then set it free.

And those reasons you’ve been telling yourself to hang on to things?

  • It was expensive – whether you bought it or it was a gift.
  • It could be used. One day. Perhaps.
  • It’s worth something…not to me necessarily, but it’s worth something.

These are really just excuses and none of them matter if they’re standing in the way of your goal. I give you permission to let all that go. Guilt-free.

Sometimes we just need permission.

I guarantee you’ll feel AH-MAY-ZING afterwards. (Perhaps not during the process but definitely after.)

Best part? It’ll get easier as you go. Sometimes quicker too.

Pro tip: Perfection isn’t a goal. Those gorgeous home magazine photos? Staged. Nobody lives like that. Even in my clutter-free home I’d still adjust, move, and remove things if photos were being taken. We all have our own personal clutter threshold, so set a goal that is realistic to attain and maintain. In my world, if it doesn’t look bad, cause you heartburn, or make you crazy, then it’s delightfully dandy. You don’t have to be Martha if that’s not your cup of tea. Or glass of champagne.

How do you define clutter?

Photo Credit: Fon-tina via Compfight cc


Professional Organizer – Melinda Massie of Organizing with a Side of Fabulous – Ft. Worth, TX

Headshot - croppedOften called a healer, therapist of stuff and the organizing ninja, Melinda Massie is the owner of Organizing with a Side of Fabulous in Fort Worth, TX. If your home is a hot mess then she’ll help you take control over the clutter so you can make your home fabulous. Combining her sensible, no-fuss organizing philosophies with a vivacious personality and healthy dose of “redhead,” she makes getting organized suck less. As a former professional ballroom dancer and event planner, she also brings in some sparkle and entertainment to the process.

Melinda was named Best Personal Organizer 2011 by Fort Worth, Texas Magazine and Most Glamorous Home-Based Business in the 2011 StartupNation Home-Based 100. Her tips have been seen in Woman’s Day, SHAPE and many other local and national publications.

In her free time, Melinda enjoys yoga, cooking and eating indulgent food and believes that champagne is meant for the everyday.

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