Clutter breeds clutter

For me, clutter is a game and it goes something like this… You come home after work. With things in your hands. And things in your head. You see a wide plain. This plain is so wide, and so open. It beckons for things. What have you got? It might be the mail or your lunch box. The plain doesn’t care. It will take what you got. And not mind what you do. So drop your things quick. And go do. Now what was in hand, has a new home. There’s plenty of room. So let’s add some more. Once the first item is down, the second one follows, the third and the fourth are quick to follow.


For me, Clutter is a game and it goes something like this…

You come home after work. With things in your hands. And things in your head. 

You see a wide plain. This plain is so wide, and so open. It beckons for things. What have you got? It might be the mail or your lunch box. The plain doesn’t care. It will take what you got. And not mind what you do. So drop your things quick. And go do.

Now what was in hand, has a new home. There’s plenty of room. So let’s add some more. Once the first item is down, the second one follows, the third and the fourth are quick to follow.

And so the story goes – again and again. Until all is full. Of what, do you ask? Miscellaneous stuffs! Now the mess is so big. So deep and so tall. It feels like there’s no way, to pick up it all. 

My real life counter clutter

But then with power (could it be Voom?), you pick up your things. You pick up your books, and a plant. The oven mitt. Some fruit. Pick them up you do. And put them away for another day. With a flash and a dash, order is back. And you see a wide plain. Once again, you do. So wide and so open.

So did you have any fun? Tell me. Do you tire of this game? Or shall we play it some more?

This is my life – reduced to a ‘Cat in the Hat’ spoof. I must really love this clutter game, because I’ve played it a million times. This game is so big, and enticing. If I were to summarize my story, I might say that clutter breeds clutter. Once the first item is down, the next items follow.

BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT – What if I held the line? What if the first item never went down on the wide open plain? No items on the counter. None. No exceptions. Is this possible? Can I do this? Can I have zero-tolerance for clutter on my counter?

Intellectually this problem seems simple enough. Here are some of ‘my stuffs’ and the places they should be. 

ItemWhere is should be?
====   =============
Paper and mail –  on my office desk 
Kids’ cool school projects – in a box in my office
Kids’ stuff – in my kids’ rooms
Dishes and kitchen stuff – put away right there in the kitchen 
Food – put away or in the fruit basket
Other stuff – somewhere else, anywhere else

Everything has a landing place, but for some reason I choose to play the clutter game. It’s so quick and so fun. But then the mess is so big. So deep, and so tall. Which is no fun at all!

What are your clutter strategies? Please leave a Comment. No matter how small.

Author: Kate

I'm a writer interested in photography, philosophy, bikes and simplicity.

9 thoughts on “Clutter breeds clutter”

  1. Don’t mess with my clutter! I know where EVERYTHING is, and if you try to clean it up, I’ll never be able to find the things I need.

  2. Other than the fact that we probably look nothing alike, I’m convinced you are a doppelganger. The words are yours but the message is straight out of my life!

    I look forward to seeing other peoples recommendations. I have yet to figure out how to keep that vast plank clear in my house. It is truly the bane of my existence.

  3. Do you read Non Consumer Girl? I think I remember you mentioning her once. Her method is to go around and collect stuff into the laundry baskets. then her husband and daughter put their stuff away out of the baskets.

    The other option is to accept the process as a natural part of life- stuff piles up until the point it’s too much and you put it away. It’s just a matter of how long we want to let it pile up.

    I’m kind of a “tween” on this one. Stuff piles up a bit, then I put it away. I don’t want to be too controlled and “anal” about it. On the other hand, I don’t like living in a tornado atmosphere. My old college roommate who’s still a friend used to let things get so bad that when she’d clean up she had a huge sense of accomplishment, because it was such a contrast. I definitely DO NOT like to live that way.

  4. Mango clutter?

    That’s the kind of clutter I can stand behind!

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

  5. There is a constant WAR ON CLUTTER going on at my house as well. One of the big keys I keep coming back to is the plain and simple concept of not having too much stuff. If it’s easy to put something away (there’s an open space for it where it belongs) then I am much more likely to put it away. BUT if the cupboard is stuffed and it’s going to be a hassle to put away, or if I don’t have a designated spot for it to go, I’m much more likely to just put it down and “deal with it later”. I also employ the use of my kids to help me put “stuff” away. The more we work together, the happier we’ll be! One place that tends to be a clutter magnet is my desk. I have been known to take everything off of my desk and put it in a small box and put it in a closet. Ideally, I get to it sooner rather than later and actually put it all away. But, if not, I know where everything is in case I need it and I can have instant order on my desk. Once it is in order, I have a much easier time keeping it up for a while. Recently, I went through 3 (yes, 3) such boxes. I found a few things I actually needed and was glad to put away, but a lot of it just went straight into the garbage. What use is an expired coupon or an old catalog? =)

  6. The fight against clutter is never ending.

    But there are ways to make the battles smaller.

    Everything has a place. Ideally the place is a permanent one, such as for your keys, backpack, lunchbag. The more permanent places you have, the less clutter you will have because you won’t be wondering where to put something, or have to move something else to put the first thing away, and where do you put the second thing? As you say, it can’t be too difficult or it won’t work.

    Sometimes, though, it will be a temporary dump spot. But if you designate a permanent spot for temporary dumping, at least all the other spots in your home will NOT be clutter dump spots. I think that even the most organized of persons, living alone, will have temporary clutter. Common problems are the day’s mail and the night’s dishes.

  7. Thanks for you’re tips,I do need to clean a house tomorrow andvi didn’t know what was a really meaning for this word…English is very difficult…attn Luis

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