Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Find New Meaning in the Clutter

A study of the word clutter brings up fascinating information. It is associated with “clatter,” that familiar racket we read about in “The Night Before Christmas; “clot,” as when blood clots; and even a clinical term which indicates a language disorder in which someone may not actually be saying what they think they are saying! Sound familiar? Guess what it's called! “Cluttering!” Today's familiar use of the word clutter started to emerge in the mid 16th and 17th century, but what meaning can we find in it today?

1. Everyday Clutter is a Sign of Life
My extended family is Filipino, and I have spent some years living in the Philippines. One thing that made a huge impression on me while I was there was visiting the home of someone who had passed away. It is customary there to avoid cleaning up at all for several days after someones death. Wow! If someone you feel like scolding today has clutter laying around, you would feel differently when looking at all that clutter should they suddenly be taken from you tomorrow, wouldn't you?! To be certain, you can accelerate your clutter-casting results by getting some accountability and assistance, but do not fail to bring joy and even fun into your ongoing efforts to stay on course by celebrating your clutter as a sign of life!

2. Clutter is Sometimes a Sign of Work in Progress
Road construction is the perfect example of this principle. You will see debris, supplies, and other construction material cluttering the area near a roadway that is being built or re-done. Methodically and safely removing those things as the project progresses is a function of the project (not to mention a best safety practice); however, completion or improvement is the prevailing goal of the project, and not clearing the clutter. Let this give you pause before you attack large clutter-busting projects around your office or home, and inspire you to attach more importance to small daily efforts in decreasing clutter. Focus on your project, and the changes you are trying to create, such as preparing to start a home-based business, commencing homeschooling, or celebrating an upcoming special occasion or holiday. For example, instead of saying, “This old desk needs to be moved, and I don't know what to do with this stack of boxes overflowing with out-of-date paperwork;” say, “Right here where these things are, we are going to have a buffet, and a nice tall elegant plant for this holiday party.”

3. Clutter is a Sign of Abundance
Having experienced a traveling lifestyle at home and abroad, including a full-time RVing stint, I have seen and experienced firsthand the pleasure of simplicity; and have noted the typical tidiness of those who have less than myself. I have seen people go through life without vacuums and fancy organizing tools, who seem to have a simple and established way of tidying up day after day, week after week. They couldn't dream of the vast array of cleaning and organizing tools available in this modern and convenient world, which I have seen sitting unused in my own home or the home or space of others! At the same time, they come up with ingenious, simple, and gloriously cheap ways of keeping life orderly. Often the need to organize and de-clutter is a function of merely having too much, or at the very least failing to manage what you do have! Think of this the next time you are tempted to hang on to something just because you might need it someday. Better yet, if you feel green-faced and ill at the thought of throwing out something, look for frugal and green ideas to re-purpose your stuff, or donate it. Did you know for example that you can make a wastebasket out of yarn and old cereal boxes, or a Christmas ornament out of last year's greeting cards?


  1. #2 is very motivating - I never thought of it that way before!

  2. Thanks, Janet for sharing and reading! I hope your latest projects look less daunting now!