What is a clutter curfew and why do you need one?

When we talk about clutter, we most often talk about those things that are sitting around in piles or stacks. They don’t really belong where they are, but they’re there!

They’re just kind of “hanging out”.

They are household loiterers. They don’t really have any purpose behind their location.

They’re not serving any purpose or accomplishing anything where they are. They’re just taking up space.

But, to be fair, we haven’t really given them much direction.

We haven’t instilled purpose in them. We haven’t determined where they best fit or given them jobs. We haven’t given them a home to call their own. So, how can we expect them to do anything but lay there and be a distraction?

I don’t mean to sound ridiculously obvious here, but…

You can’t know if something is out of place until you have a place where it belongs.

In our battle against clutter, it’s important that we identify a “home” for everything (over time).BONUS: Get a FREE chapter of SIMPLER to help you get started.

In continuing with the metaphor of items and their homes, here are a few suggestions:

1- Don’t allow any items in your home or workplace to be “homeless”.

Homelessness is unacceptable in our communities AND in our personal spaces. Just as we strive to make sure every person has a home, we have to make sure we consistently work to make sure every single item we own has a place to go to at the end of the day. It has to have a place it calls home. It doesn’t necessarily stay at home all day, but it goes there when it’s not doing it’s work.

2- Make sure everyone knows where the items live.

It’s not enough for you to know where the item lives. You have to let everyone else know, also. With both family and co-workers, this can require a lot of repetition. Talking about it over and over is required.

In some situations, people find labels to be helpful. You don’t have to make labels, but you do have to make sure everyone knows where things belong, or you will face lots of misunderstanding.

3- Be flexible but consistent.

It’s okay to move things. It’s okay to rearrange your house or change plans. Items can change homes if we need them to. But, when they do, we make sure they are put back in their homes. We have to be willing to allow for change, while still insisting that items be put back in their places.

They can buy a new home and move, but they can’t just hang out in other people’s houses whenever they want to. That’s someone else’s house!

4- Items need to have a curfew.

Items don’t have to sit in their home all day. In fact, we chose to keep the items because they’re useful or meaningful to us. They are meant to be used. We want to live a full life. We want to use the things that we love. We want life to be a party.

We’re not advocating museums. We want to USE our spaces!

Our things can be out. They can “party.” But, when the activity is over, (or after an appropriate amount of time) they need to go home. 

So, in a way, it’s like they have a curfew. It’s not an exact time, but rather an understanding that they have to go home at the end of the event.

5- If items continually break curfew and stay out, you may have to ask them to leave.

Unfortunately, as a clutter officer, you have to watch out for those who tend to cause disruption. Some items just don’t want to follow the rules. No matter how much you urge them, and ask others to help them, they refuse to go back to their place.

In those cases, you have to make some tough choices. Is this item worth all of the work that it takes to maintain it? Is the item’s behavior causing distraction or possible harm for your family or co-workers (unsafe, tripping hazard, etc.)?

You have to make the call. But, sometimes we do have to ask items to leave our houses and lives because they tend toward clutter.

Your turn.

Let me know what you think about this idea of a clutter curfew.