Sometimes the solution for solving a clutter problem is simply identifying the cause of the problem. It sounds obvious, but you may be surprised by how often the cause of the problem isn’t considered when looking for a solution.
I hear complaints all the time that a spouse/partner/roommate/kid (someone else, never the person complaining) leaves items strewn about the house. The complaint usually sounds like, “my husband leaves his dirty clothes on the floor,” or “our son leaves his toys all over the living room.” The spouse/partner/roommates/kids are always named as THE problem.
Granted, the spouse/partner/roommates/kids may be making the mess, but they are not usually the exact cause of the problem. Usually, the problem is caused because:
- a convenient storage solution does not exist (the hamper is in the closet, but the husband changes clothes in the bathroom),
- no organizing solution exists (there isn’t a hamper),
- the person has not properly been trained on how to use the clutter/storage solution (the child has never been shown how to pick up his toys or been expected to pick up after himself),
- or the person has a different tolerance level of disorder than the person making the complaint (clothes and toys on the floor may not be perceived as clutter by the person making the mess).
When you properly identify the cause of the problem, it’s much easier to solve it. Based on the examples we’ve been using throughout this post, the problem might be alleviated by:
- Getting two more hampers — keep the one already in the closet, but add one to the bathroom and put another in the bedroom next to your husband’s side of the bed.
- Buy a hamper and put it where your husband usually drops his clothes on the floor.
- Teach your child how to pick up her toys and give her three minutes at the end of every play session to practice this skill. Read more from our archives: here and here.
- Have a respectful conversation with your spouse/partner/roommates/kids about your standards of order and their standards of order, and establish agreements and expectations about future behavior. Read more from our archives: here.
Are you identifying the real causes of clutter and disorder in your life? Doing so can help you to more easily find the solution.