Systems for Decluttering

In order to maintain an orderly home it’s essential to establish systems for decluttering.  But what is a system and how do you create one?  Chances are you already have some in place although you may not have thought of them in such terms before. 

A system is a method of doing something consistently.  It’s a procedure or action plan.  It’s also a great way to maintain an organized environment once you’ve successfully decluttered.

When establishing systems in your life, consider the three P’s.  The three P’s are problem, purpose, and plan.  Here is how they work…

The Three P's

What's the Problem?

Before you can solve a problem, you have to identify what the problem is.  When it comes to creating systems for decluttering, you first have to identify what clutter problem you want your system to solve?  The more specific you can be, the better.  It's much easier to create a system for managing incoming mail than it is to create a single system for keeping the whole house clutter-free.  Establish simple individual systems to deal with specific clutter problems.

I’ll use the example of my living room.  The problem there is that people frequently bring items into the room from other areas of the house and leave them there.  

Look around your home.  Consider your schedule.  

What isn’t working well for you?  Where would you like to see things function more smoothly?  Which areas of your home are the biggest clutter magnets? 

What's the Purpose?

Once you know which problem you’d like to tackle or where you’d like to set up a system, it’s time to think about solving the problem.  If you’re looking to keep an area of your home clutter-free, think about how you would like the space to function.  What do you do there?  How do you use the space? 

The trick is to adapt the space to meet the needs of your lifestyle, not to constrain your lifestyle to function within the apparent limits of the space. 

The best systems are a natural extension of your habits.  Such systems are easier to incorporate and maintain.  A system that is complicated or involves a drastic alteration in your routine or behavior is likely to fail.

In the case of my messy living room, it serves multiple functions.  It’s where we gather to relax and watch movies or TV.  It’s where we hold family councils and read together.  It’s also used for entertaining guests.  Whatever system we establish needs to support these functions while taking into account the limited storage space available and the fact that various members of the family like to do things while they watch TV such as knit or build with Legos. 

What's the Plan?

After you’ve identified the problem and the purpose you’re striving for, it’s time to create a plan (i.e. establish a system or systems for decluttering).  Think about what you can do to make the space function more efficiently. 

The system we’ve adopted for our living room is a catchall basket.  It’s a large, decorative basket with a lid.  Whenever someone leaves something lying around that doesn’t belong in the living room, it goes into the catchall basket.   The basket fits in with the room’s décor, and the lid prevents the clutter from showing. 

People are free to retrieve their items whenever they like or to store them there temporarily if they are working on an ongoing project.

When the basket starts getting full, we hold a catchall exchange.  In order to get back any unclaimed items, the owner must do a chore as ‘payment’.  For us it’s a good way to keep clutter under control and get everyone involved in cleaning the house.

Create systems for decluttering your home using the three P’s and keep clutter under control.  A system can be as simple as a shoe rack strategically placed near a door to encourage people to take off their shoes when entering or as complex as a detailed filing system.  Both perform a necessary function and help to control clutter.  When creating systems for your home, start small and work your way up.  


If you would like help establishing systems to control your clutter, click on the link below to contact me.

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