Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#1 Way to Manage Clutter in Small Living Spaces: Own Less Stuff

Since recently declaring myself an authority on home organization, people often ask me how they can manage the clutter in their small living spaces. My reply is always, "Own less stuff." I believe minimizing is key to living a green happy life.

While clever shelves, files, and hooks are fantastic organizing tools, there is a limit to how much these devices can help manage clutter. Even if you all your belongings are contained within or hanging from brilliant organizing doo-dads. And even if you sleep in a Murphy bed and have only miniature folding furniture besides that, you will still eventually reach a saturation point if you do not stop accepting objects into your home.

You might not think the command to own less is realistic. Perhaps you've pared down your possessions or you've always lived pretty simply and can't imagine living with less. However, those of us without the option of obtaining more living space often literally meet a inflexible brick wall. Once all organizing devices have been explored and we still have little to no space, we must recognize and cull those objects we do not need to lead a meaningful life.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when deciding whether or not to keep something.
  • Would I rather have this object or the space it occupies? 
  • Had I forgotten that I even owned this object before re-discovering it buried within a drawer, closet, etc? How was life "without" this object? 
  • How often do I use this object? Considering this, is it practical to own the object or is it possible to rent it or co-own it with a neighbor or friend who has more storage space? 
  • Can I properly care for (and maintain) this object?
  • Will I want to still own this object when I am ninety? (If you're already ninety, ask yourself if you'd want to burden your children with having to sort through this object in addition to your other belongs once you've passed away.)
  • Why should I own this?
If you need further inspiration for downsizing, consider this quote from English craftsman and poet William Morris (1834-1896): "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Please visit my blog again tomorrow. I'll write about the benefits of owning less stuff.

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 
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