a : a crowded or confused mass or collection
That's how clutter is defined as a noun, which is how I usually think of it. Clutter is STUFF.
But M-W first defined clutter as a chiefly dialectical intransitive verb, meaning: to run in disorder.
to run in disorder.
I'm just going to let that verbal definition sink in.
You see, when I think of clutter, I think of the STUFF. But the stuff is there because I have been RUNNING MY LIFE IN DISORDER. For pretty much ever. Sure, I have pockets of order, spaces carved out where structure survives, but those are not the places where clutter accumulates. Clutter accumulates in the parts of my life that are run in disorder.
When I get too busy, clutter accumulates.
When I get distracted, clutter accumulates.
When I abandon a task mid-stream, clutter accumulates.
Busyness, distraction, and abandonment are signs of a disordered life, and clutter is an outward manifestation of inward habits.
I want to create habits of order.
The other day I had a lightbulb moment. I realized that ALL of my clutter was due to one of three reasons. ALL OF IT!! Here are the reasons I have clutter in my home:
- We have more stuff than we need or use.
- Not everything we need or use has a home.
- We don't always put things back in their home when we're done with them.
That's it! Everything in my home fits in one of these three categories, which means that I can actually go around the house to every item that is cluttering up our beautiful home and ask myself if it has a home, if we need it, or if we need to find a home for it. And suddenly, the weight of clutter feels SO. MUCH. LIGHTER.
In writing this blog post, I figured something else out, too. When I searched for images of clutter, the pictures didn't look like my house. I feel the weight of clutter, the overwhelm of clutter, but I'm not actually living in an overly-cluttered environment. Yes, I still have too much stuff and yes, I still need to find homes for the things we need, and yes, I still need to put things away when I'm done with them. But it's not as bad as I think it is, and it's something I can deal with one item at a time. There are many problems in the world that I can't tackle, but this isn't one of them. I can do this (and so can you)!