Being intentional about where your items call "home" could mean the difference between clutter and clarity.
Perhaps you've been there like we've been there. You have an item and not sure where it goes. Or the designated "home" for that item is out of reach for some reason. Whatever the cause, you have a thing and the thing doesn't have a place to go. The thing has to go somewhere, though, right?
So, you put the thing on the coffee table. Not the coffee table? Perhaps the kitchen counter or the ever-mysterious "junk drawer." That once clear space suddenly becomes a junk yard for all things without homes until one day, you look up, and your clear surface has disappeared and the new found clutter seems unconquerable.
Make no mistake, we're not saying that you can never put your things down in fear that they will turn into clutter. We are saying that it is important to be intentional about your things and space so that the constant ebbs and flows of life continue to flow as they ebb.
Creating a designated space and system for unhomed items may be a good intervention to prevent clutter from happening.
It's likely that you won't always have a special place for all the items you bring home to live with you - at least not immediately. That's ok! In the times when you find yourself without a place to home your things, it may be helpful to establish an area for temporary settlement.
Here are a few tips to creating these sorts of spaces and systems:
Tip #1 - Visibility
You do not want your transitional space tucked so far away that you forget that it's there. While you don't need to have it set in the middle of the floor, consider setting up this space in an area that you are likely to be in transit.
For example: I may create a designated space on a bookshelf near a door, because I know that I will be using that door often to move about my home. It allows me to have a transitional space that is inconspicuous to others, while also allowing me to take advantage of the built in relationship to mobility in that area. This makes it easier for me to commit to moving things from the transitional space into their designated areas as opposed to the transitional space being somewhere that I typically go to be still.
This is not to say that still places are off limits. If you have a habit of putting things down in a particular area, you might also want to consider your transitional place being set up there. Think about what areas in your home "catch clutter" and under what circumstances then go from there.
Tip #2 - Accessibility
It's not only important to be able to see the transitional space, it's also important that I don't have obstacles to get through in order to access it. The more steps it takes for us to do a thing, the more likely it is for those systems to break down.
Tip #3 - Use Proper Material(s)
What items tend to become clutter in your home? Clothes? Toys? Paper? Randomness? You want your transitional space to be fitting for the type of clutter that happens.
For example: if my clutter is typically papers, I might decide that my transitional space is made of in and out boxes you would find at the office supply store. That sort of designation is fitting for that particular type of clutter and the in/out option helps with the sorting and organizing.
Tip #4 - Systematize!
Creating space is half the battle. What do you do once that's done? Setting intentions is a good practice throughout all parts of life - this also applies to home care. It is helpful to have a plan of action for when and how you will home or rehome your items.
For example: I may decide that I will choose at least one thing to rehome each time that I clean the living room. Or perhaps I decide that Sundays are my days to organize. If I don't get anything else done, I will visit my transitional space and see what I can move to its proper place.
Tip #5 - Fine Tune
Once your space(s) and system(s) have been created, be sure to check in with yourself regarding their efficacy. Is this working? If not, in what ways? Is it the space, the system, or does it not work for some other reason? Think of home care sort of like tuning a fine instrument. When a guitar is out of tune, you don't throw it away or give up playing, you tune it until the notes hit just right.
For example: Perhaps I decided that I would keep a small metal box on my bookshelf as a transitional space and I decided that I will visit my transitional space once a week to home my items. If I check in with myself and notice that the space I designated is always full and my items, again, are become clutter elsewhere, I'll ask myself why. Perhaps the reason is because I need a bigger space for the types of items typically in transition? Or maybe I need to engage with rehoming more frequently than once a week. Whatever my choice is, it's important that it works for my head, heart, and home.
The Importance of Setting Space
Intention is everything - this applies to our homes. When things feel out of wack and uncontrollable, it may be helpful to examine whether the things causing friction have been set with intention. Use these tips simply as a guide to explore the needs of your home and your items. We are constantly in relationship with both. Remember to take deep breaths, pace yourself according to your needs, and never be afraid to ask for help from safe people when needed.
If you are feeling like a little more help might be needed to get over the clutter hurtles, you can always reach out to Self Care Housekeeping. We will be offering virtual coaching soon, which will be available in all 50 states. Virtual coaching is a great way to receive out-of-home support, not only during the process of you working through the home, but also exploring your relationship with your home, identifying stress points, underlying barriers, and finding solutions that work from trained professionals. If you would like to know more about virtual coaching, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's all for now!