CLUTTER THRESHOLD: HOW MUCH CLUTTER CAN YOU MANAGE?
Is your home feeling overwhelming and heavy? Try a different approach and explore your clutter threshold to see how much clutter you can manage easily.
MY DAUGHTER’S BEDROOM
My youngest daughter’s bedroom is a small, cute little space. She has collections of stones, rocks and precious gems, fake plants of various shapes, sizes and foliage colours, framed photos, stuffed toys and Lego creations, stationery and a growing selection of jewellery and books.
All of these items are very special to her and they are lovingly and beautifully arranged on bookshelves, her bedside table, floating shelves on the walls and stacked neatly in little boxes and display cases. Tidy and organised.
She loves her bedroom, the stuff in it and looks after it all without me even having to ask – except for the occasional build-up of laundry. I don’t even have to ask her to make her bed. Even the 7 scatter cushions decorating her bed get positioned each morning!
My eldest daughter is another story and although she loves stuff in the same way as my youngest daughter, my eldest struggles to manage the inventory and her room often looks like a jumble-sale.
MY STRUGGLE WITH CLUTTER
I, too, would struggle to manage the stuff that my daughter has if our entire home was like her bedroom. I would find it difficult to keep it clean, tidy and organised when my whole aim is to have a home that’s simple and quick to run and maintain.
If I’m needing to multi-task or move quickly, I don’t want to have to think about moving things around to make space, to pull things out carefully in case the rest come tumbling out. I love my daughter’s cosy bedroom and it’s got a wonderful energy about it, but I would struggle with managing that clutter – however meaningful, helpful and aesthetic that clutter might be.
I think the difference between my youngest daughter and I lies with our clutter threshold.
WHAT IS THE CLUTTER THRESHOLD?
Your clutter threshold is the amount of clutter you can easily and comfortably manage and keep in check and everyone has a different clutter threshold.
My daughter’s clutter threshold is higher than mine because she can manage a greater amount of stuff without feeling overwhelmed or burdened by it.
My clutter threshold is pretty low. Partly because of the busy season of life I’m currently in, but partly because I FEEL overwhelmed when I can see a lot of stuff. I prefer simple, clutter-free lines, views and spaces.
Part of this is just because I prefer that as a design style. I do have plants, photos and cushions but I tend to have bigger, bolder, more colourful options of these rather than several smaller ones. As I’m writing this blog in my living room I’m looking at a case in point. I have one giant Monstera plant in the corner, nearly 5 foot high, instead of lots of little ones!
USING YOUR CLUTTER THRESHOLD TO UNDERSTAND DECLUTTERING
So, when you’re thinking about your own home and wondering how much you should declutter, how do you know when you’ve decluttered enough or decluttered too much? Or why you don’t feel a minimalist home like mine perhaps would suit you and your tastes? Maybe it’s because you have a different clutter threshold?
We’re all affected by clutter to some degree. It affects our physical and mental health and numerous research studies have shown the negative effects of clutter on focus, concentration and stress, but the extent to which clutter affects us individually may be different. Decluttering is good for us.
The main point of decluttering is not about what your home looks like, but how it makes you FEEL. If your home is feeling stressful, heavy and onerous, perhaps part of the problem is that your home is cluttered beyond your clutter threshold.
When you match your clutter threshold with the amount of clutter in your home then you’re more likely to have a home that’s in sync with your body and mind!
HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR CLUTTER THRESHOLD?
The only real way to find your clutter threshold is to declutter your home until it reaches a point where you feel happy, at ease and in control.
Here are some tips.
1. Keep decluttering until you feel comfortable
Try decluttering in sweeps to remove the layers of clutter like you would peel back the layers of an onion. Keep on going until you find that sweet spot.
2. Assess tidy-up times
You could also make a note of how long it takes you to tidy up at the end of the day, for example. If it takes you longer than 10-20 minutes to reset your home, that might be a red flag that you have too much stuff that you can comfortably manage.
3. Over-flowing storage
If your storage solutions are constantly over-flowing and when you reach in to pull something out, then everything else comes tumbling out too, this might be a sign you’re living above your clutter threshold. This is always why most decluttering advice will encourage you to declutter first, then organise.
4. Other signs of living above your clutter threshold
Some other signs you might notice are that you’re always losing things, you leave things out because you can’t find a home for them, or that you’re always having to tidy before you can clean.
USING YOUR CLUTTER THRESHOLD TO HELP YOU DECLUTTER
Decluttering a home is not a precise science. There are different methods and mindset strategies that work better for some of us than others.
We also sometimes fall into the trap of needing our decluttering to be perfect, to create the ‘ideal’ home, maybe a picture-perfect or Instagram-perfect vision. But, in reality, decluttering is much more hit or miss, imperfect and fluid.
Clutter comes and goes, and it’s important to match our mindset and emotions and be ok with imperfect and fluid too!
You might enjoy this article on why decluttering makes us anxious if this is something you struggle with.
One way to do this is by experimenting with decluttering for yourself and trying to find your own clutter threshold. This is the level at which you’ll be able to manage your stuff and your home with ease.
YOUR CLUTTER THRESHOLD MAY CHANGE OVER TIME
Once you’ve found it, don’t cling on to it for dear life though as a marker of what you need to have to create your happy home.
Your threshold might come and go over time as the demands of different seasons in your life ebb and flow. I know for myself that I had a much higher clutter threshold when I had more time and no kids!
I had more ornaments and accessories and I didn’t mind looking after them one little bit. When my kids came along I substituted home accessories for toys and kid clutter. My clutter threshold couldn’t tolerate having it all so I let stuff go that didn’t seem so important in order to meet my threshold at the time.
There is no right or wrong threshold here and it very much comes down to knowing yourself and what makes you feel happy, not just what you can visibly see as you look around your home.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Have you heard about the clutter threshold? Have you discovered where your own clutter threshold lies or are you still trying to find it? Hit reply and let me know in the comments as I’d love to hear from you.
HELPFUL DECLUTTERING ARTICLES
- Progress Not Perfection in Decluttering: Why Decluttering Doesn’t Have to be Perfect – In this article I’m exploring ways in which perfectionism can be an obstacle to decluttering. Let’s embrace progress not perfection in decluttering and look at why decluttering doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective.
- How to Help Kids and Teenagers Declutter and Keep Their Room Clean and Tidy – For those of you with older kids and teenagers, you may be familiar with the struggle to keep them motivated. This is even more difficult when you’re trying to motivate and encourage them to help around the home and clear up after themselves! If this resonates with you, here are some tips on how to help kids and teenagers declutter and keep their room clean and tidy.
- How to Enjoy Your Home More and Make It Work For You – In this article I’m sharing some simple, practical tips to help you enjoy your home more. Instead of it feeling like a burden on your time and energy, let’s make your home work for you!
- Decluttering and Self-Acceptance and How They Benefit Each Other – Decluttering is about getting rid of stuff but it’s also about understanding the emotions behind why we hold onto that stuff in the first place. In this article I’m sharing some thoughts on the relationship between decluttering and self-acceptance.
A FREE DOWNLOAD
To help you explore your own relationship with stuff and what you’d like to achieve by having less stuff (plus how to do it!), why not use this free Decluttering Action Plan to help you?
Pop your details in the box below so I know where to send your free printable.
DON’T MISS OUT!
I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!