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Living Space: You can break clutter's grip

By By Kathryn Weber
March 22, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 21, 2012 at 10:22 p.m.

Most people who plan to read through their stacks of old magazines never do, so why keep them?

Everyone has to deal with general messiness around the house, but clutter can become overwhelming - judging by the number of TV shows about hoarding. Whatever the level of disorder in your house, solving the problem starts with motivation. The problem isn't the possessions, but us. Once we get our thoughts straight about clutter, stuff has a way of finding its way out the door instead of in.



Visual white noise

The problem with clutter is like the story of the frog in the soup. The unfortunate frog doesn't notice the temperature being raised a degree at a time until he's frog soup. In our homes, stuff can flow in until we're overloaded. Over time, we stop noticing all the clutter and it becomes visual white noise.

Some of this is related to our best intentions. We believe that box of ticket stubs and postcards will make its way into a scrapbook one of these days, or that we'll read through that pile of gourmet magazines and rip out recipes, but somehow this never happens.



The way we were

Clutter often represents a personal history, and we hang on to that history, believing these items represent us. In fact, they merely represent a point in time in our lives. The joy of de-cluttering is the ability to feel unstuck, unburdened and moving forward again. Saving a few special pieces is understandable, but be selective and only hold onto those items you feel strongly about or will actually use.



All aboard

Getting a handle on clutter calls for an all-hands- on-deck approach. Everyone in the family has to understand the toll that clutter can take on their time, energy and quality of life. Too often, clutter control falls on one person's shoulders, but any mess created by two or more people requires everyone's efforts. That's why getting the whole family involved, including children, is more effective in the long run.

Even small children can help pick out organizers for their toys and sort them into tubs. Older kids can learn the joys of selling their unwanted video games and making some money. There are a few better incentives for kids or adults than turning their excess stuff into money.



Redecorate to unclutter

Since de-cluttering is seldom seen as its own reward, a fun redecorating project could just be the ticket to get everyone motivated to spruce things up. In the end, you'll have a new look, better organization and extra space, proving that the secret to clutter is all in how you think about it.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.

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