Welcome to Day 11 in our Clutter-Free Challenge. Only five more days to go. As we wrap up our time together, I want to remind you of something I said in the beginning. I never expected anyone to be able to do this in 15 days. However, I do hope I’ve given you encouragement to make some immediate changes in how you process your responsibilities, manage your schedule and de-clutter your home. Even one change will make a difference.
Today we are going to talk about our main living areas. If your house is like mine, there’s a lot of living going on in these spaces, and lots of clutter that gets left on tables, chairs and the floor. It requires daily maintenance to keep these areas de-cluttered. But it can be done. And once you make some foundational changes, it will be easier.
I’ve got some practical tips, but first I want to share some thoughts … thoughts that might help you overcome the common avoidance of dealing with clutter. There are two principles that keep me motivated when I get weary of maintaining my home. The first deals with conveying authority.
In Proverbs 31:11 says “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Whether you are married or not, conveying confidence to those around you happens over time. Confidence is built up through consistently doing what we say we will do. You cannot demand someone trust you; we all see past words and evaluate actions.
However, a woman who quietly brings order to her home conveys confidence and authority without ever saying a word. Our husbands’ trust grows when we can find the passports before a trip. Children can tell mom is in control when she pulls out the permission slip from a handy file. We all have been given some level of authority over our homes, even if we are a college student renting a room. Do we manage with authority or is there chaos? Are we conveying trust or insecurity?
The second principle which motivates me is based on the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30. I won’t take the time to summarize, but please review the passage when you have time. The verse that rings in my head is 23: “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
I’m convinced God is watching to see how I handle every responsibility He gives me. He longs to give all of us more responsibility, but we must prove ourselves faithful with what we have – no matter how little or how much. I apply this verse to my health, my finances and my home. I can wish I had more all day long, but if I squander what I have, I’m simply not a good investment.
Having said all that hard stuff, I am SO THANKFUL FOR GRACE. I’ve fallen short so many times. At the end of the day, I’m just a dressed-up mess. Instead of giving me what I deserve, God generously showers me with good things. He forgives my sin and sympathizes with my weaknesses. And it’s in my weakness that His strength is revealed. So if you are feeling weak today, please invite God to be your strength. He is faithful.
I know I got off subject there, but I believe the Lord wanted me to share that. If that message was for you, I’d love to know.
Let’s move on to some practical tips for de-cluttering your living spaces. There are two main reasons for clutter. The first involves items that have a home but aren’t in their home. An example would be remote controls sitting on the table next to the box you bought for the remote controls. (ahem – yes, this happens in my house) This is a discipline problem, not a clutter problem.
The second is items that have no home. This problem never gets better on its own. And the older you get the worse it gets, what with all the tchatchkes we collect and are given. What to do with it all? Here are some ideas for common clutter items:
- Store them in a glass-enclosed curio cabinet. Twenty years ago, my husband bought me a six-foot high, two-foot wide class case. It sits right by my front door where I can see all my little treasures, safely tucked away, and dust free.
- Give items to family now. If you’ve got children, nieces or nephews, plan to share some of your treasures with them now. This can be an inexpensive Christmas or birthday gift. It blesses both of you.
- Give items away. Find a ministry helping people be independent after a trauma. This could be a battered women’s shelter, refugee ministry or a recovery program. Your beloved items could bring hope and healing to someone else.
- Sell on e-Bay or at a consignment center. If you need to make some money, consider selling your extra items. A good digital camera, and packing material, is all you need to sell online.
- After my father passed away, my mother created shadow boxes for my sister and me. She carefully arranged little items my father collected over the years in this box. For example, his army pins, a pipe and his school ID (he was a teacher). This is one of my most treasured items.
- Store remotes in a decorative box on the coffee table.
- Buy or make a fabric remote holder that fits over the arm of a couch or chair.
- Install a wall-mounted basket by the television
- Put a box or basket by the television.
- A chest of drawers can serve as an end table and storage for items like blankets.
- Position a quilt hanger by the couch.
- A vintage-looking sea chest can double as a coffee table and blanket holder.
Craft supplies & games
These items can take up lots of space. Store them in boxes you can stack to make the most of your space. Consider storing games behind closed doors of an armoire or entertainment center to minimize visual clutter. If the game box is damaged, transfer game boards and pieces to specially designed plastic game-keepers sold at specialty organizing stores.
For crafts, consider a rolling organizer with multiple drawers that can be tucked in a closet while not in use. A cubby system with boxes covered in wallpaper to match your design could fit nicely in a niche. Make labels for each drawer or box.
Unless you have a designated playroom, keep most toys in bedrooms. For a quick pick up, keep a large basket with a lid in the living room. Rolling bins make clean up fun when a child can roll it back to her room.
Plastic boxes multiply like rabbits at a home with growing children. Whether it’s a CD, DVD or video game box, it needs to be stored in a crush-proof place. Consider adding pull-out drawers to deep shelving so that items in the back can be easily seen. A specially-designed media tower protects boxes and keeps the titles visible.
Consider a collage of photos on the wall instead of cluttering the surface of an end or sofa table with frames. Choose a common frame color, and complementary matting to make a design statement.
Extra storage options
Make furniture do double-duty. Invest in accent tables with shelves and drawers. If that’s not an option, store items in large baskets tucked under tables. A chest can serve as a coffee table, or a bench with cushions. And go vertical when you can.
That was a lot for one day. Thank you for sticking with me to the end. Please join me tomorrow when I talk about cleaning out your kitchen. Fun stuff!!
Grace & Peace,
Heavenly Father, thank You for entrusting me with a place to call home, a body to care for and finances to manage. I admit that I often fall short of where I want to be in many areas. Sometimes I grow weary dealing with the same issues every day, and need a fresh breath of Your Spirit to fill me up. I long to be a woman who stewards well her responsibilities, and know I’m in desperately need of Your help and strength. In Jesus name, Amen.
If you want more encouragement and tips on how to bring order to your mind, schedule and home, I hope you’ll consider purchasing my book, “I Used to Be So Organized.” It’s available through Proverbs 31 Ministries, Amazon, or wherever books are sold. Thank you.