Clutter magnet spaces. You know what I’m talking about – the table next to the door, that part of the kitchen counter, your nightstand. The places where clutter sets up camp.
For me and my husband, I’m a bit ashamed to admit, all of the flat surfaces in our apartment are magnet spaces.
It’s not for lack of storage or even an excess of stuff that really causes the clutter buildup. It’s mainly a bad habit that we’re constantly fighting against. Every. Day.
And when the table isn’t clear or there are clothes on the bed, I get distracted and stressed out. When my desk is most cluttered, I even question why I’m talking about minimalism (despite how far I’ve come these past three years).
Why does stuff appear there?
Our routine includes a thorough apartment-cleaning each weekend so that we can have a fresh start to the week.
Everything goes back to its proper place and we breathe easier knowing that everything is where it should be. So why, by the end of the week, is it all out on the table again? A few reasons:
- Bad habit (not putting stuff away after done using it)
- Lack of organization (especially when it comes to mail – we don’t have a solid system for it yet)
- The storage doesn’t make sense (this one is the easiest to say, since it removes some responsibility on my end)
How to avoid magnet spaces in your home
First, a disclaimer – I am not the model for a perfectly clean home. I just naturally put stuff where there’s space for it in plain sight, and I’ll admit that weakness. For proof, this is mostly from today: However, I am starting to recognize patterns and realize what I can do to get better about keeping surfaces clean. Because there’s nothing like having a clean table to play board games on or sip coffee at.
- Remove unnecessary surfaces. If the surface is not necessary and it gathers dust and/or random trinkets, just let it go. This was important to me when we were furniture shopping. I wanted a small desk and even stackable coffee/side tables. I didn’t want a huge bookcase or end table. I chose our rabbit pen because it was open on the top – I didn’t want another surface for my clutter to gather on.
- Make them less convenient. If you can’t get rid of the table/surface, play some mindgames with yourself by moving it to a less convenient location. Instead of by the opening side of the door, put it on the hinge side so you don’t see it first thing. Trick yourself into thinking it’s not there anymore.
- Identify what collects there. Is it dishes? Is it keys and sunglasses? Is it work? Identify what collects there and think carefully about how to manage it. Maybe a 15-minute daily dishes-sweep of the house/apartment could take care of the buildup. Maybe it’s as simple as getting a key hook and small basket for your sunglasses.
- Decorate intentionally. This sometimes works for me, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Make your table or coffee table beautiful with a vase of flowers or a candle. Draw attention to it’s emptiness when it’s clean and make it a beautiful part of your home – the more you feel like it’s a pleasure to look at, the less you’ll want to mess it up. Kind of like a well-made bed.
- And of course, get rid of what you don’t need. If your stuff doesn’t have a home, there’s no need to go buy storage. Open up those drawers that you haven’t looked into for years and clear them out. Don’t just scoot stuff around either because that’s cheating. Get rid of things you don’t need so that the truly valuable stuff has a proper home.
Don’t be mad when it goes wrong
I know I’ve been preaching this a lot lately, but it’s essential to not get upset when you find shoes on the coffee table and cups on chairs.
If it’s funny, let yourself laugh about it.
Humans are strange beings, and if we let this stuff get under our skin instead of taking a calm moment to deal with it, the habit won’t get any better. Be gentle on yourself and start fresh with each cleaning.
Because sometimes life just gets a little messy.
Also, if anyone has a solution for all the cups that show up in random areas around the house (anyone else have that problem?), I’m all ears.