Taming the clutter (and piles)

Kitchen table

It’s never this clean.


Piles are my downfall.

I’m really bad about them. Truly. Piles of mail, shoes, errant candy plucked from my purse — things that have homes, maybe, but somehow wind up on the coffee table or kitchen counter or in a mass near the door.

Living at home until I was 28, I grew quite used to piling up my things in one edge or other of my bedroom — not because I didn’t have free reign of the house but, you know, it was my parents’ house. I spread beyond the four corners of my own space sometimes, but for the most part? Everything was there. There in my childhood bedroom.

If it sounds crazy for a woman in her late twenties to have all her worldly goods in one cramped space, it sort of was. Looking back on it now, I’m not sure how I managed to cram so much stuff in there. If you’re thinking this gave me an appreciation for minimalism and making do with less, well . . . it’s a beautiful thought! But no. No. Though not a pack rat, I do like my things.

Too much, sometimes.

As I’ve been feeling under the weather recently, Spence has been caring for me — and the house has suffered. I mean, it’s not a pig sty, but let’s just say it’s not “company ready” — a condition I aim to be in about 80 percent of the time. I don’t want to be the type of person that panics if friends and family say they’re dropping by, you know? I just want to relax, say “The door is always open!” and actually mean it.

It’s a goal, anyway.

I felt better today. Really better. Rested, alert, awake — for the first time in ages. If I play my cards right, I usually have an extra 15 minutes in the morning between getting showered, dressed, etc. and actually having to run out the door. I usually reserve that time for mindlessly watching television, reading emails or, occasionally, flipping absently through a magazine. Rarely is it used for anything productive.

Today, I felt the burn.

In less than 15 minutes, I raced through projects that had been bugging me for days, weeks: a pile of mail on the kitchen counter; a mountain of clean clothing that needed to be hung in the closet; a disastrous heap of shoes I’d shucked near the door.

It’s nothing momentous. Nothing auspicious. But it felt so good to have the energy — and the presence of mind — to want to do something, and when I was finished? Well. I marched off to work with a light, uncluttered heart.

Though I’ll be the first one to admit I’m prone to laziness, I’m really trying to focus on how good it felt to get a few simple, nagging things accomplished and use that momentum to carry me forward into other parts of the house. Every day. My husband is great about many things — and does just as much, if not more, around our place — but, you know . . . there are certain aspects of clutter I’m more likely to notice than he is.

Marriage. Two people makin’ it work.

Hoping this continues, I can hold myself together — and only good things are afoot.

And if nothing else, well . . . the piles are gone. For today.

(Also, look: I wrote a blog post! A truly productive morning, indeed. Hi!)


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20 thoughts on “Taming the clutter (and piles)

  1. The clutter – it never seems to end! Piles regenerate regardless of how many times you pick them up! Well, at least they do in my house lol

  2. I feel ya on the piles. I live in a two-room apartment, so they mound quickly. One thing that helps keep it all in check is doing thing in short spurts like you did. For example, if I’m heating up something on the stove or the microwave for two minutes, I’ll complete a two-minute chore (like unloading the dish rack or hanging up a few shirts). It adds up pretty quickly! Glad you’re feeling better. Can I say “over the weather”? Is that a phrase?

  3. I once read ‘clutter is kiddle and kiddle grows’ It was a thought provoking line in a book I know longer remember the name of. Anyways, good luck with your continued kiddle conquering.

  4. I totally know this feeling. I don’t know why it happens. Once you get rid of it, it just piles up again. This and time management are the demons that continue to haunt me. So glad someone else can identify! πŸ™‚

  5. Piles give me such anxiety. After moving to our little 800 sq ft house, with not much storage space, I purged SO much junk. You wouldn’t imagine how much “stuff” you have that you really never use. I got rid of all of it, and helps to avoid messes in our house. Everything we have we use. But the house still somehow manages to get cluttered looking, especially when we get back from a trip. Don’t you just feel lighter when your house is clean?

  6. I hear you Meg πŸ™‚ I think we all can identify with your blog posting today. I have just come home from work and plopped myself onto the sofa trying my hardest not to see the ‘piles’ out of the corner of my eye, even just for a moment while I drink my tea πŸ™‚ Glad to read that you are feeling better.

  7. Oh my goodness, I’m the same way! I think it’s part of our nature as creative types. My husband is 10x worse than me, which doesn’t help πŸ˜‰ But it’s really the best feeling in the world to de-clutter, isn’t it? A clean house = a clean head!

  8. I completely understand this… I actually wrote about it in my blog. Our catchall is the dining room table or the floor. Each of my kids have a cubby and yet everything ends up in the middle of the floor.

  9. Isn’t it such a great feeling to cross things off your to-do list? I’m a neat freak and organizer, so when things are out of place, I hate it! But I love the feeling of getting things accomplished. Sounds like you and your husband are a great team!

  10. Hope you’re feeling better sweet lady! Whenever I’ve been under the weather, cleaning house when I feel better seems to feel so refreshing.

    We have lots of piles, too. Especially with two kids. OMG SO MUCH STUFF EVERYWHERE. Sadly I don’t see my piles as much as I see other piles. 15 minutes a day could make such a difference! It’s definitely easier, too, with four helping hands.

  11. Being company ready 80% of the time is such a good goal + one I should adopt too. I tend to let things pile up until the weekend, then spend a few hours cleaning. But it definitely adds stress because you look at the piles each day before leaving the house and feel cluttered. So three cheers for crossing this off the list and I hope you feel better soon!

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