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5 Reasons We Clutter & Solutions To Stay Ahead of the Clutter Curve

This post is written by certified professional organizer Tiffany Engler.

What is clutter? What causes clutter? And how can we solve the most common clutter culprits? In this month’s blog posting, I will share with you the five most common clutter causes, examples of each and simple solutions.

#1 Clutter Cause: No ‘home’

  • Your kids don’t put their new birthday presents away because they don’t know where they belong.
  • Your spouse leaves loose change on the dresser because there is no place where the family collects change.

Give everything a ‘home’ so you can put it away and find it later. In most cases, one home is the best solution. Make sure the ‘homes’ are logical to you, place items high if you hardly use it or at arms reach if you use them frequently. Also keep your children and pets in mind when finding homes for dangerous items.

#2 Clutter Cause: Unfinished Projects

  • Toy ball that needs inflating.
  • Broken figurine that needs to be glued together.
  • Church meetings notes that need to be reviewed and revised.

The thing about projects is that they always involve more than one step. Don’t get overwhelmed by all of the things you have to do with the project, just ask yourself this one question, “what is the first thing I have to do with this project?” The answer might be to write “glue” on your to-buy list or to proof the first page of the church notes. In the meantime, get a beautiful basket to hold your unfinished projects and put it where you see it everyday. As for your unfinished paper projects, get a beautiful magazine holder and put it where you will see it everyday.

#3 Clutter Cause: The Undecided

  • Estimates from 3 home contractors.
  • Invitation to baby shower.
  • Community college non-credit class schedule.

Our kitchen counters are often filled with undecided clutter. For the time being you can put the undecided papers in a magazine rack, but at some point you will have to face the fact that decisions must be made. Before you stuff your undecided papers away think about what is making the decision hard. Do you need to do more research? If so, do it. Do you need to talk it over with your family? If so, schedule a family meeting. Knowing what your values are and what your personal goals are for each year will greatly help you reach decisions. I know for me, I ask, “is this in line with my goals?” If so, I try to make it happen. If not, I ditch it.

#4 Clutter Cause: Too Many Reminders

  • Post-it notes all over your fridge.
  • Little scraps of paper lining your bedroom.
  • Scribbles on the back of envelopes.

When you have 15 little reminder notes stuck to your computer, it can easily lose its effect. If you can, try to keep at least 80% of your notes in the same notebook. If that isn’t possible, try to limit one note per post-it. That way when you are done with the to-do you can throw the entire piece of paper away.

#5 Clutter Cause: Postponed Actions

  • Not putting the camera away after you use it.
  • Not putting the insurance policy statement back in the insurance folder.

Just as important as it is to have a ‘home’ for everything, it is just as important to put things away after you use them. Make this a family effort, praise your children or offer rewards when they do this. When life doesn’t allow this, consider getting a beautiful basket with handles for the items that need to be returned to their ‘home’ at the end of the day, otherwise called a “catch-it basket.” Have your family help you put the items away every night. 15-minute a day is better than an entire Saturday. As a final thought, when you get stuck ask yourself, “what do I need to do to finish ________ .” Identify it and finish it and you will feel so good about your progress.

Tiffany Engler, CPO® loves to help her clients break overwhelming organizing projects into small pieces to achieve big results. She gets a rush helping people finish something they have been putting off for years. Check out her website at

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3 Responses to 5 Reasons We Clutter & Solutions To Stay Ahead of the Clutter Curve

  1. Julie November 27, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Great ideas Tiffany! Thank you-I will now start the daunting task of cleaning off my counter. It is literally about a foot high because I was so sick for the whole summer! 🙂

  2. denise June 15, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    great advice

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