with Declutter Expert Katy Wells
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
- The Connection Between Clutter & Mental Health
- The Most Common Areas For Clutter
- Reasons Clutter Builds
- Solutions For Cluttered Areas
- The Secret To Realistic Expectations of Clutter In Your Home
Do you find yourself being the “stuff manager” in your home? Do you struggle with keeping up with all things toys? Or have you fallen into the myth that “once I find the perfect bins, the right shelves, color code and label everything – it will solve this constant mess?!”
The thing is, mess is not an organization issue, it’s a clutter issue. Declutter expert Katy Wells is here with practical advice and sustainable tips to FINALLY put clutter in its place and regain control of your home.
Our tolerance for the mess in our environment often changes depending on our mood and how we are feeling. For example, when I feel anxious, the mess in my house suddenly feels messier. Or when I feel down or am struggling with a low mood, I lack the motivation to stay on top of the daily tasks and the mess feels nearly impossible to deal with. Our house is often affected by the ebbs and flows of our mental health, transition to new motherhood, or whatever season of life we are in.
“We all need to give ourselves more grace,” Katy said. The best way to begin decluttering is to step away from judging yourself and view your home with curiosity.
“Clutter signals to our brain there is more to be done,” Katy said. “There are so many studies that show we pay for our stuff, not just with our money but also with our time.” Meaning everything we buy has to be managed once we bring it into our home.
Katy suggested looking at the pain points or most cluttered areas in your home objectively and making notes about what you see there. “There are 17 different kinds of toys on my living room floor.”
But once you’ve determined your most cluttered areas, and what those areas are actually cluttered with, you can reverse engineer a solution. If there are 17 different toys on the floor, maybe we need a toy box closer to the living room. The way we store things matters too. Kids can’t put away their belongings if they can’t reach the drawers, cubbies, or hooks we have in place.
The Most Common Areas For Clutter
Katy uses the phrase “Monica closet” to describe the place we put things we don’t know what to do with. In an episode of Friends, Monica opened a closet full of random stuff she tossed in not knowing what else to do with it. “Guest bedrooms are really big because they’re not used a lot in a lot of homes, and so they become that Monica closet,” she explained.
We all have a Monica closet, but it might be different for all of us since every home is different and the way we use our homes can be so different. “Entryways—any space that can hold a lot of stuff—garages,” Katy said. “Most people who have garages can’t fit their cars in them.” Clutter can happen anywhere, but these are some common areas.
Reasons Clutter Builds
“Visual cues are a big one,” Katy said. “Just like gravity is a law, there is also a law that stuff attracts stuff. Clutter attracts clutter.”
She described an experiment where you clean a countertop and leave one water bottle or sippy cup on it. By the end of the day, your family will have filled the countertop with other random things.
But what if you need a visual cue of seeing the item as a reminder? Daily medication is a common thing for people to leave out on their counters otherwise they might forget to take it, however, this can attract other random stuff.
If it’s not attracting more clutter, we don’t have to worry about it. But if the things you leave around the house for yourself are attracting more clutter, set an alarm clock for your daily vitamins or medication. Find another way to remind yourself.
“It’s just this lack of tools, lack of systems, lack of consistency, and a lack of habits,” she explained. “A lot of us are looking at a lifetime of stuff.” Decluttering a lifetime of stuff probably won’t happen overnight.
For Katy, the root cause of clutter was her impulse shopping. “We can declutter as much as we want, but if we never work on our relationship with stuff, the meaning we assign stuff, and the inflow of stuff, then it’s always going to be this revolving door,” Katy said.
Solutions For Cluttered Areas
One solution to control the inflow of stuff and help get to the root cause of clutter is assigning a limit to different categories in your home. Winter holidays can mean new toys coming into the house. Because Katy doesn’t have a playroom, she assigned a corner of her living room and a six cubby shelf for toys. When toys start overflowing their assigned space, it’s time for an edit. Setting a physical space for toys has helped.
It was a game-changer for me to realize I could set limits on stuff before it came into my house. It changed how I viewed shopping. Kids don’t have to get toys for Christmas. They can get an experience or have a fiver party, where everyone pitches in $5 to buy one group gift (which could also be an experience.)
Katy found that having fewer toys available to play with led to more creative play for her kids. Learning minimalism is as beneficial to our children as it is for us.
Unchecked clutter is really a boundary issue. We may have been able to tolerate the mess until something happens. When we go through a trying time like a worldwide pandemic, our tolerance for mess diminishes. As we’re struggling with a situation that feels out of control, clutter in turn makes our physical space feel uncontrollable.
Defining boundaries for our stuff keeps our space from being out of control. We can do this by deciding where to put it and giving it a home, limiting what comes into our homes, or maybe we need to eliminate some things.
The Secret To Realistic Expectations of Clutter In Your Home
It’s probably never going to be perfect. “I strive for a good enough home,” Katy said. “I want my home to feel like a refuge in the storm, and I’m so grateful that was an opportunity and possibility for me during COVID.”
My family does a reset once a week or so. We live life during the week, and by the weekend things need to go back to their space. We turn on music and make it a dance party. Everyone contributes for that 15 minutes or however long it takes to reset the house.
“I strive for a home that’s easy to clean up and reset and easy to tidy, but not always tidy,” Katy explained. Is it functional? Does it work for you?
Instagram is a snapshot of a perfect moment in time. We live in our space. It cycles through the stages of clean, needs to be washed, in the wash, and clean again.
After embracing an easy to tidy home versus an always tidy home, Katy was able to reframe the way she thinks about daily chores. There was a time when it drove her crazy. Now she knows dishes means she has a family to cook for, and laundry means she has kids to play with.
If you’re struggling with a home reset or reducing clutter in your home, Katy’s Toy Clutter Course has the solutions you need!
Katy Wells is a declutter expert and host of a Top-50 Podcast, The Maximized Minimalist. She inspires families around the world to simplify their lives and trade stress and overwhelm for peace and joy so they can focus on what matters most. Her teachings and programs have transformed the lives of thousands of people, allowing them to live life to the fullest. Personally, Katy is a wife and mom of two boys and her passion for simplicity emerged after becoming a mom six years ago.
- Katy’s Podcast: The Maximized Minimalist
- Katy’s Course: Toy Clutter Cure System
- Marie Kondo’s Book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- Fostering Independent Play Podcast Episode
- Happy as a Mother Merchandise