As I have covered in this series, there are different types of clutter, each with its own causes, effects, and management strategies. Clutter tends to fall into the following types:
- Artifacts of Unfinished Business: These are ignored items connected to projects that you haven’t started or haven’t finished.
- The Unloved Ones: This clutter consists of belongings that were once used, needed, or loved, but now they have been gathering dust.
- The Needed but Jumbled Items: This clutter is made up of belongings that you need and use regularly, but they are in disarray. http://www.cherishyourworld.com/needed-jumbled-items-part-three-five-part-series-clutter/
- Just Too Much: With this clutter, you have too much of a particular type of item or too many items of various types in a space that’s too small.
- The Wandering Nomads: These are items that have been placed in a room or another space whose purpose they don’t serve, as with library books piled on the kitchen table. The items don’t belong where they are, causing incongruity in their current space.
I invite you to approach the Wandering Nomads type of clutter in a light-hearted way, because most of us have stashed belongings in rooms where they just don’t fit, and the incongruity can be amusing. I remember finding a bright yellow container of baby wipes in my kitchen cabinet years after my children needed them. I laughed heartily, recognizing it as both a wandering nomad and an unloved one.
Once we get used to the placement of belongings, we seldom consciously notice how poorly they fit. Wandering nomads include the books stacked on the dining room table, all kinds of items that migrate to the kitchen that have nothing to do with cooking, and electronic equipment in bedrooms. Most people don’t have lawn mowers in their kitchen, but they may have workout equipment in their bedroom. The misfit creates a mixed message and a bit of confusion.
This type of clutter creates incongruity and a lack of clarity. If you find yourself struggling regularly with too many choices or you experience indecision around two distinct choices, it may be that the misfits have occupied several spaces of your home. The lack of clarity may even show up as you move through moments of your daily life. Do you clean or curl up with a good book if a vacuum cleaner remains visible in your reading nook? Do you sleep or pay bills if you have a desk stacked with bills in your bedroom?
A kitchen filled with these misfits can impede the desire to prepare a meal or the experience of cooking. Seeing a saw or drill in a cabinet or drawer may create a moment of agitation or a thought of Really? and a sigh. In that moment, you may lose your flow, so that you are now preparing a meal with annoyance rather than joy. The wandering nomad might remind you that you’ve asked for this item to be moved to the shelf in the garage and it just hasn’t happened. And then sometimes you are reminded of an entire list of slights or unfulfilled requests, and you find yourself really cranky by the time you sit down to a meal with your family. The misfits can have an unwelcome impact.
Some of you may be able to handle this incongruity, and it rarely distracts you from your commitments or restorative rest. In other cases, an occasional misplaced belonging may not be problematic for you, but then all of a sudden you notice such belongings in multiple places. Once you hit this threshold, you may feel a strong need to take action to relocate these items to where they can support your daily life. For still others, these wandering nomads and the unsettling feelings they cause may be a part of what’s impeding your flow in life.
At the very least, you can relocate the belongings with wakeful or active connotations, such as workout equipment, from bedrooms and dining spaces, because the intentions of these rooms are serenity, centeredness, and peacefulness. Deep restorative sleep is supported by a physical space that cues comfort, quiet, and calm. Healthy dining and digestion can best take place in a more serene space.
Optimally, most of the belongings in each space support the desired experiences you want to have. Sometimes rooms get created as multiple-purpose spaces (especially when space is tight in your living quarters), as with a dining room that also serves as homework central for children and a storage space for library books. This can work if you build into the arrangement a way to return the room to its designed intention, which in this example would be dining and enjoying meaningful connection during meals. To do this, you could designate a cabinet or shelf for children to place their homework items and books, so that these items are off the table and it can be set for a meal. If you have such a multiple-purpose space, find ways to easily shift it from one purpose to another.
Relocating needed items to where they actually belong supports clarity and congruity as you interact with your space and all the important domains of your life. It frees you to be more focused and purposeful, and invites a more restorative experience of peace and balance. Life works best when it is balanced by work, rest, and play. To best support this balance, take the wandering nomads to the places where they can best support your thriving life.
Here are some suggestions for relocating these misfits:
- Notice when a belonging does not support the intention of a space or a space often leaves you feeling indecision. Look for these misfits and see where each item actually belongs in your home. Pick them up and take them there.
- Discuss ways other members of your household can help return belongings to the room where they actually belong. Children may especially enjoy this as a game and find it to be quite fun: “One of these things doesn’t belong! How many can you find?”
- Clarify the purpose of each room in your home, and then be certain to move belongings into each space that match that function.
- If you need a space in your kitchen for bills, homework, or other wandering nomads, create a section of your kitchen that is designated for these items and commit to restore order to this defined space on a regular basis. Keep the section as separate as you can from food preparation areas.
- Clear space in closets or cabinets for the misfits that need to be stored when they are not being used, such as cleaning tools.