How to Prevent Clutter's Sneaky Return

I got an email from a blog reader asking about how to maintain a clutter busted space:

"One ambitious summer a few years ago, my husband & I attacked our study and did a MAJOR clutter bust. Not only did it look good when we finished, but we felt better too. Unfortunately, the room has gone back to being a clutter nightmare. My question for you then is how do we keep our clutter-busted rooms from getting out of hand again? What sort of maintenance do you suggest?"

Living with clutter can become a habit and seem normal. Even if we get rid of it, it can sometimes sneakily creep back in, unnoticed. But by taking a look at how it's actually affecting us, we break the hypnosis. Because she used the words "Clutter Nightmare" means the presence of the clutter has lost all of its charm. It's a good thing when our awareness kicks in and goes, "Oh, my God, this is bullshit!" It gives us the energy to remove this thing that is causing us pain.

What ends up happening is we get rid of the clutter and we take a little time to appreciate the contrast. I have my clients stop and notice the feeling of open space. There's a peace of mind that is palatable. It's the addition of a thing that is not a thing. It's the presence of the absence of clutter. Its attributes are quiet, calming, restoring, and energizing. It's like that feeling of when you've been sick for a couple of weeks, and then you get well.

It's worth noticing and admiring how good our place feels after a decluttering. That's how we learn its value. It's a new habit. It's how we learn how to maintain a clutter busted space. That way when some clutter begins to appear in the space, we notice it because it doesn't feel good. Something feels off. "This doesn't feel as good as when I was done clutter busting. I don't like this feeling. I want to fix this." It becomes easier to get rid of clutter as we notice its appearance.

We're becoming more sensitive in our living spaces. We getting used to feeling better, and we want to protect and maintain that feeling.

Just now I thought, "I'd better test this advice before I publish this blog." So I stopped typing and tuned-in to my space. I noticed it was feeling kind of dull and heavy and that I was kind of dazed and out of it. It actually took me a while to get out of bed this morning. I like being lazy and taking it easy. But I don't like feeling dull and spacey. With my clutter radar, I scanned for suspects and I noticed there was a bunch of papers from the past few days strewn over a table. Just looking at them made me want to go back to bed. This made me get up off the couch and check out the papers. I didn't need any of them, so I tossed them out. It felt soooo good!

As I was walking back from the trash I noticed the floors were dirty and dusty from being ignored for a month. I could feel the clutter try and protect itself by hypnotizing me with, "Wouldn't it be nice to go and lay down on your couch right now and watch cable all day?" I felt the pull, but I knew I wouldn't enjoy it. So I got out the broom and mop and cleaned the floors. It feels tremendous in here! My place seems new to me. I'm alert and aware. It's nice to be back!