What image comes to your mind when someone mentions clutter? For many people, that image might be a severely cluttered home — like one of those pictured at the higher levels of Randy Frost’s Clutter Image Rating Scale. Or you might think of the common clutter so many people have: overstuffed closets, etc.
But clutter can also look like part of this pegboard at the back of my garage. This is an old photo from 2004, and many of the things shown aren’t there any more. But those hula-hoops on the far left were there until earlier this week, when I gave them away on my local freecycle group.
The hula-hoops had a place, and I didn’t particularly need to free up that space for anything else. But I hadn’t used them since that photo was taken — I think I got them for a party. I couldn’t see using them in the foreseeable future, either, and I certainly had no sentimental attachment to them. So now they’ve gone to someone who will use them, and they are no longer useless-item clutter in my garage.
Clutter can also look like this table and chairs, which I gave away last week. I was about to have someone repair the table for me, but then I paused to give that idea some thought. While the chairs are comfortable and the ensemble looked nice in my front yard, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d used them. So now they too have gone to a freecycler who will actually use them.
We can get so accustomed to seeing something in our environment that we don’t stop to question whether the item is still serving us well. I might never have thought about giving away that table and chairs if the table hadn’t needed repair.
One way to become more conscious of what’s in your space is to create some sort of home inventory for insurance purposes. You might just take photos of everything, including the contents of all the closets and cabinets. Those photos give you a new way of seeing your space.
I did my home inventory some years ago as a combination of a spreadsheet and photos, and listing everything I owned certainly did make me think about why I owned all those items. Most of them had good purposes, but some were remnants of past relationships, things I thought I should have as a homeowner but never used, and other items that weren’t helpful in any way. They soon became deleted lines on that spreadsheet as I found new homes for them. But somehow I missed those hula-hoops! Maybe I thought back then that I’d still use them, while now I’m more realistic.