Decluttering Cure

How to Finally Slay Your Home’s Big, Bad Clutter Monster

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

We all have a monster in the closet (or garage, or attic, or basement, or storage unit, or… you get the picture). A clutter monster—one big old pile of goodness knows what, to be honest. It always starts innocently enough—some equipment for a sport you’re going to get back into, or a collection of craft supplies for that hobby you’re sure to pick up again. But the once-small mass of uncertain mess only seems to attract more like it, compounding the problem to the point where attacking it feels unmanageable. Like a video game boss you can’t beat.

But here’s the thing: Just like that video game boss, if you try hard enough, and keep coming back day after day, you’ll eventually conquer the monster.

So that’s exactly what we’re going to do, all month long.

Join the September Sweep!

Today’s task involves first identifying your monster clutter area, then committing to a plan to slay it—one day and one thing at a time. And even better: Going back to your problem area—touching it, remembering it—every day during the September Sweep will help you from feeding the monster and adding more to the mess.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Today’s Assignment:

It’s simple: Choose your beastly area, and remove one thing from it.

Chances are, your gut gave you the answer right away (these problem areas have a way of nagging at your subconscious). But here’s what you’re looking for: An area of your home where you’re most naturally and instinctively likely to drop something that doesn’t have a dedicated home. Maybe it’s a hall closet, or a basement, or a garage, or an attic. Or it might just be a spot out of the way somewhere, like under a desk or in the corner of a bedroom. That’s your monster.

My “clutter monster” test: Say you opened up a brand new gadget and needed to store the box it came in… where would you put it? That spot is likely your clutter monster.

Not to say that a go-to storage spot is a bad thing—far from it. But these areas have a way of being forgotten and, unless you move house, remaining totally untouched for years.

So step one is to identify your monster. Then step two is to remove one thing from it. Just one thing. Open a box, dig into a drawer—do whatever you need. Then find just one item that you realize you don’t really need to store anymore, and send it on to its next life (whether that’s the “sell” and “donate” boxes we set up on day one, or even just the trash or recycling bin).

That’s. It.

And then every day for the rest of the September Sweep, we’re going to remove one more thing from that spot. At the end of the month, our monsters will be almost 20 things lighter.

I’ll drop reminders into every post and assignment from here on out. All I need from you is your commitment to conquering this beast once and for all!

It’s not too late to sign up!