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What Is Clutter? – The REAL Meaning Will Surprise You

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON March 31, 2024

& FILED IN Home Decluttering 

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What IS clutter? It’s a tricky one to define, but I’ve given it a go, and I firmly believe this could completely change how you view clutter in the future. So – if you want to truly understand the meaning of clutter, then this ultimate definition will change how you define it forever…

The meaning of clutter - it may surprise you...

Clutter – we all talk about it, our cluttered lives, homes and diaries – but what IS it, exactly?

I went to the dictionary definition first – and a quick google search later came back with this:-

Clutter: A collection of things lying around in an untidy mess.

(Other definitions can be found HERE and HERE)

So, in it’s most basic form, it’s anything that’s untidy and messy in your space.

And for most of us – that’s an obvious description…

It’s the exact thing that we envisage when we hear the word ‘clutter’ – a pile of mess that needs sorting out and that’s got out of control.

But it’s so much more – it really is – and getting to grips with defining clutter will totally transform how you think about it in the future.

So let’s do just that, shall we…..

Where Does Clutter Come From?

To understand clutter, you need to define where it comes from, and I believe that it really emerges from indecision.

We have stuff around our homes because we haven’t decided where to put them, and we have clutter in our lives because we haven’t taken control and decided what is and isn’t important to us.

When we don’t make decisions – we end up with STUFF in our lives – simple.

Clutter quote - clutter is no more than postponed decisions

So – we know that clutter manifests itself in several forms – but ultimately it is busy-ness in some part of our lives that needs sorting out.

What’s The Answer To Being Clutter Free?

If we start to make these postponed decisions, then we clear a lot of the clutter from our lives without even really trying.

Think about it – if everything in our home has a place, and we decide to put things back when we finish with them – then clutter won’t exist any longer.

… and if we work out our goals and priorities in life – then everything else is cluttering up our lives and therefore doesn’t belong.

Have a plan for your home and life, and you’re pretty much there!

Related: Creating a Plan For Your Home – a Space For Everything

Related: Creating a 5 Year Plan for Your Life

Definition Of Clutter – What Is Clutter?

I define it as follows:

Clutter Quote - Clutter is...

This is focused on physical clutter – our ‘stuff’ – but can equally be used for the stuff we collect in our lives (emotional clutter).

Basically – if you know your goals and priorities in life, and you have a plan for your home – then everything that is out of place in either space is clutter.

So – when you declutter – knowing the answer to what IS clutter makes everything so much easier.

It takes away the emotions from your decluttering decisions, and makes things a much more positive experience overall, because clutter isn’t necessarily something that’s not needed.

Because of the definition I have – you can see that clutter can simply be something that’s out of place.

Lets take a couple of examples: –

Clutter at home (physical clutter)-

  • Items that are broken or unused any longer – they need to be taken out of the house
  • Items that are in the wrong place in your home – simply put in the right place again and they are clutter no more.
  • Items that belong to someone else – they aren’t in the right place so they need to be given back

Clutter in your life (emotional / MENTAL clutter) –

  • People that bring you down a lot. Yes, you prioritise having a social life and family & friends – BUT if anyone is causing you more hassle than help – then they are clutter
  • Things you are doing because you’ve always done them. You can free up time by re-thinking lots of things you do in your life.
  • Things taking up your headspace. You are cluttering your mind with your thoughts – so why not get them down in a planner/diary and free up the space again. You will feel so much better having them in the ‘right’ place.
What is clutter? The meaning revealed

So – define WHAT IS clutter, THEN you’re so much more capable and empowered to being able to do something about it.

Can you now identify the items you have by using the definition of clutter I’ve given in this article?

Identifying and understanding the meaning of clutter in your own life will help you to work out the best way to deal with it, once and for all.

My challenge to you today is to write a plan for your home, and goals for your life – and see what does and doesn’t fit. If you need help, then the following posts will be a great way to get started on this. Once you define clutter, I promise you – it will take a load of your mind and you’ll feel great!

Good luck x

Read These Next:

Over 30 Top Clutter Quotes – Brilliant Decluttering Motivation

61 Surprising Clutter Statistics That Will Totally Shock You

14 Different Types Of Clutter And How To Deal With Each One

This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on OrganiseMyHouse.com (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...

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