Survey your home for clutter accumulation areas

A quick walk around my house and it is pretty easy to figure out where the clutter accumulates. Problem areas include my desk, the kitchen counter, and a landing strip that borders our kitchen and dining area. The clutter seems to collect like dust and it seems like an unwinnable war.

Take a stroll around your home and identify your perpetually cluttered zones.

Once you figure out which areas of your home are the problem areas, the next step is to do something to remedy the accumulation process. First you have to identify what is in all that mess and where it belongs. Do some of the items belong in the trash? Do they simply not make it back where they officially live? Is some kind of storage solution needed?

Laying out everything that makes up a clutter problem area is a good way to determine where things need to go and whether or not you need to create a new storage solution. If most of the items are simply there for no other reason than they haven’t made it back to their proper places (or to the trash/recycle bins), then you probably should make a conscious effort to not let things form a pile. Either that, or evaluate if its home is really the best and most convenient place for that object.

My desk has been a problem area for quite some time. I accumulate items on my desk that have no business being there. I have become much better in the past year, but as I type this I can see a three-hole punch that I never use sitting behind my display screen. It’s time for me to put the hole punch back where it belongs and ramp up my commitment to keeping my desk organized.

After you take care of the problem areas, keep a watch over them the next few weeks. See if you can identify how and when things accumulate and work on stopping those clutter-prone habits.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

19 Comments for “Survey your home for clutter accumulation areas”

  1. posted by cv on

    One thing I try to do with this type of area is contain the problem in an organized way. Get a basket for papers that need to be dealt with, or a jar for loose change, or a bin for clothes that were worn for an hour but aren’t going into the laundry yet, or whatever works for your clutter zones. Trying to stay 100% on top of things every moment is a losing battle for many of us, but giving certain types of mess their own place declutters my routines and takes much less mental energy than trying to attain uncluttered perfection all the time.

  2. posted by Fit Bottomed Girls on

    My desk and kitchen table is the worst. I always drop the mail there or something I need to do, but I know I won’t for at least a week.

  3. posted by infmom on

    The biggest problem areas in this house are my son’s room (let’s hope the health department never darkens his door) and the various areas my husband commonly inhabits (his desk in the office, around his chair in the living room). Knowing where the mess is isn’t the problem. Getting the people who created it to deal with it… ai yi yi.

    I try to set a good example by dealing with my own messy areas (my desk and the floor near my chair in the living room) regularly, but so far that’s done nothing to inspire anyone else. Sigh.

  4. posted by Michele on

    I have a few areas like this too – an unusual one is the bathroom. I tend to get dressed in there and change several times a day (gym wear, normal clothes, work clothes, etc). Shoes, hair accessories, jackets, clothes to be rehung accumulate. I have found that I need to straighten daily to keep things in order.

  5. posted by becoming minimalist on

    these areas need to be cleared daily because clutter always attracts more clutter.

  6. posted by adam on

    It’s my desk that’s the problem! The subject headings for the filing cabinet need reorganizing, and until that’s done, the papers keep piling up!

  7. posted by Deoris on

    In the livingroom, the kids had piled everything. Not only ON every surface, but under as well. I combatted it by removing all the surfaces I could. To combat me, they’ve moved the tv trays in there and cluttered under and over those. Oh..”kids” are 17 and up.

  8. posted by Deb on

    My bookbag has been a source of constant clutter. Up ’till this year I had used a rolling tote bag and ended up toting lots of excess garbage with me. I had a mini-office in that bag, when I really didn’t need it.

    Now I am carrying a smaller, canvas shoulder bag and I don’t feel like I need a tugboat just to arrive at school each morning.

    It’s not a living space but it has been a quality of life issue!

  9. posted by Sian on

    My boyfriend calls the space between my side of the bed and the wall my “trough”…

  10. posted by Kendra on

    This seems so simple – identify the problem, evaluate, and consider solutions. Why even though I have perfectly good drawers (that I spent a lot of money on!) do my clothes end up laying in a pile on the chair in my bedroom? That’s a clutter space, and I can’t build a closet on my chair. Commitment. Ugh. Thanks for the good reminder.

  11. posted by Caperunner on

    I can identify completely with this article! But I do have to say I laughed out loud at the end of it, where it said to watch over the problem areas for the “next few weeks” — HAH! How about the next 48 to 72 hours??
    Sometimes it seems like spontaneous reproduction….

  12. posted by cv on

    Kendra, for me the problem got much better when I designated a cubby or two in one of those hanging sweater shelf things for “semi-dirty clothes I plan to wear again” – stuff that I change into in the evening when I come home from work, pajamas, etc. Piles used to accumulate because I’d tell myself that an item was dirty, so I didn’t want to put it back in the drawer, but if I put it in the laundry basket it would get wrinkly and smelly and I wouldn’t be able to wear it again. Now that everything has a place where it “belongs” at any given time, I have a much easier time staying on top of the piles.

  13. posted by Petra Teunissen-Nijsse on

    My friends father used to say: “Every horizontal surface is prone to clutter.” I agree entirely and tried to invest in antique chests that have rounded tops…

  14. posted by Julia on

    All well and good but – does anyone have a recommendation for library books? I think if I actually put them in a bookshelf, they’ll get lost amid the ones I actually own.

    They always end up piled on the sofa, or shoved under the side table (which makes them ugly AND hard to reach.)

    I wouldn’t mind the books so much, but a stack of books attracts junk mail, receipts, etc. like a trailer attracts tornadoes…

  15. posted by Xavier on

    My solution to this problem is to have a weekly appointment in my PDA that says ‘desk clean’.

    So, every Friday afternoon I oblige myself to leave my desk completely empty (except for the computer and stereo, but no papers and, overall, no stuff that is there because I have no idea where to put it).

  16. posted by Teresa on

    Library books: I have a shelf set aside for these. I keep a bag in the closet for the ones we’ve finished to return them to the library.
    my desk, kitchen table..A daily reminder to clean
    I hang re-wearables on the back of the bedroom door. Sweaters go in a under the bed basket after airing in the dryer.

  17. posted by JG on

    Good tips, but I think you meant “conscious” effort, not “conscience” effort.

  18. posted by Joy on

    My hubby calls these clutter areas, DDZ’s – Designated Dumping Zones. We’re constantly working on eradicating DDZ’s.

  19. posted by Sabrina Mix on

    Really usefull post. I loved it!


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