Clutter – Courtesy and Common Sense

by Linda Lenore on July 11, 2011

Clutter is often a delicate subject with many people, especially my clients whose spouses contribute to the creation of Feng Shui clutter that's contributing to bad Feng Shui chi. Courtesy and common sense are good guidelines to follow.

As I've shared, "Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach is one of my favorite books. There are several passages about clutter. One that comes to mind right now is on May 10 and ends with this paragraph:

"To jump-start the bringing of order into your home, here are four old-fashioned rules that can change the quality of your daily life beginning today. Repeat this recipe for contentment out loud every morning and evening for twenty-one days. Let it become your personal mantra to maintain serenity. Write these instructions on index cards and post one in every room of your home. Teach these words of wisdom to your children, whisper them into your partner's ear:

  1. If you take it out, put it back.
  2. If you open it, close it.
  3. If you throw it down, pick it up.
  4. If you take if off, hang it up."

I wish I had an orderly home. If I gave you the impression mine was a house "with everything in it's place" I would not be in integrity or be authentic with you. Until we are able to finish the green remodel, it is going to take extra work to maintain even the slightest bit of semblance around here.

And I do work towards it every day. Shuffling, sorting and strategically placing items in appropriate locations as I unpack boxes and rearrange spaces. Deciding what to keep, what to give away, what to continue to store and what to bring out, display and use.

Add to the regular "planned" sorting, we recently had to completely clear out a shed infested with mice. I'll tell you, in my mind there's nothing like it to help me get rid of things quicker than knowing mice have been on or in it. Our garbage can, as well as most of our neighbor's, were filled to overflowing.

And the sad thing was, most of the items we really didn't need or want anymore. How much of it had weighed us down for years? A lot!

But actually that's not the main reason for bringing up this story. I feel it's the rest of the story that really matters and makes the point.

The shed was insulated to reduce temperature extremes. Since the mice had made nests in several locations, we decided to redo those areas plus cover the walls with plywood. A trip to the local home improvement store and sorting through the sheets finally yielded 6 that were good.

As we were putting the not-appropriate-for-us sheets back into the stack where they belonged, a bewildered employee approached us.

"What are you doing?" he queried.

"Putting back the sheets we're not taking," was our reply.

"I can't believe it," he said. "In the 3 years I've worked here, I've never seen anyone put any of the sheets of plywood, sheetrock or other wood products back after sorting through to find what they wanted. They always leave them for us to move back. But sometimes we're too busy and don't get to them. Another customer who's come in to make a purchase winds up having to move them in order to get behind to reach the item they want."

My husband and I looked at each other in amazement. We almost always put things back. Not that we're perfect. Sometimes our minds are someplace else. Sometimes we're too tired. Sometimes a stock clerk says they'll take care of it. But to hear it is a rarity for this to be done brings me to a fifth point in the above "recipe" for clutter control, courtesy and common sense.

5. If you move it, put it back.

Whether at home, a grocery store, home improvement store, clothing retailer (I always re-button the blouse and hang it up either on the rack where I found it or the rack on which they request it be placed), the garage, the shed or the car:

  1. If you take it out, put it back.
  2. If you open it, close it.
  3. If you throw it down, pick it up.
  4. If you take if off, hang it up.
  5. If you move it, put it back.

When it comes to clutter control - or the quality of your daily life  - courtesy and common sense can curtail challenges thus bringing simple systems to support a sense of serenity to our lives.



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