by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Containers are great to bring order to useful, used things. They get out of control and cluttered when they corral too many types of things.
Small baskets, boxes, trays, bowls, bins, and yes, drawers, can help you organize and display small belongings – or, they can become catch-all containers for things you don’t put away (or that you don’t decide where they belong). Chances are, you tossed the item in that basket to give yourself the feeling that you’d done ‘something’ with that item.
However, allowing a basket or bowl to act as a catch-all is giving clutter permission to gather – the very thing that you are working against. Now, a basket or tray is fantastic to collect specific things, like the mail or your makeup. It's when unrelated things start cohabitating a space the trouble begins.
Declutter Your Catch-All Containers
If you are feeling bold, give a quick glance at the jumble contents to look for any money and toss the rest. Feel an obligation to sort through the contents? Follow these steps:
Decide whether you want to keep the containers or not. Keeping them doesn’t mean that you are returning them to use as a catch-all.
Stop the Junk Drawer Mentality
Catch-all containers are like junk drawers. They are filled with items you don’t know where they belong or items that you didn’t take the time to put away.
If you don’t know where to put something – you’ve identified a problem which can allow clutter to accumulate. Decide where things belong – where will you go looking for the item? Where will you use it?
Think about the type of stuff that found its way into the catch-all containers you collected throughout your home. If most of the items were office-related, is it because you go through the mail and pay bills in the kitchen one week and at the dining room table the next because you don’t have (or don’t use) a dedicated office space?
Be strategic about the placement of your catch-all containers. A basket by the door for collecting incoming mail and a bowl for emptying the contents of your pockets can be useful. Just remember to make plans to empty these deliberate catch-all containers every night or once each week so items don’t get out of control.
Sign up for emails from A Less Cluttered Life and learn how simple, everyday practices can eliminate the scattered feeling of trying to do too much. Join the free program, A Year of Decluttering, at any time of the year and get access to the 7-day e-course, Distraction-free Decluttering.
Susan, chief (and only) organized squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life, pursues learning, practicing, and sharing information about the everyday habits that can lead to living a better life.