Today’s post is all about clutter blindness – what it is, why it happens & what to do about it!
People tend to be creatures of habit. Getting used to whatever becomes their norm. And this definitely applies to how tolerant we become of clutter in our homes!
What is clutter blindness?
Over time, you get used to seeing certain things in your home. You get used to things looking a certain way and things being in certain spots. You get so used to seeing the “stuff” in your home where it usually is, you almost stop seeing it at all.
Whatever you have lived with for long enough in your home becomes normal to you. Including things adding clutter!
Things like a pile of mail on the counter that’s always there. The clothes draped over your bedroom chair that never get put away. The stuff on your coffee table that’s been there forever.
Over time you stop even noticing it. You stop thinking of the clutter in your home as clutter, and instead, it just becomes the norm.
And that’s clutter blindness!
Clutter blindness usually happens over time when you get used to your home looking a certain way. And it can make it hard to clear the clutter when you’re ready to simplify.
How to tell if you’re clutter blind
If you know you want to declutter, but aren’t really sure what needs to go, it could be because of clutter blindness!
Sometimes clutter is easy to spot. But other times you become clutter blind and simply stop noticing what stuff in your home is causing clutter and making your days more difficult and frustrating.
Maybe you try to declutter, but don’t know where to start or what to get rid of. You’re so used to seeing the clutter in your home that you forget how much better your spaces could look, feel and function if you get rid of the clutter.
Why decluttering matters
Even if you don’t notice the clutter in your home, clutter still takes a toll on you and impacts your life.
Everything you choose to own not only takes up some of your space. But it also takes up some of your time and energy too. You have to take care of it, clean it, clean around it, pick it up, organize it, re-organize it, maintain it, look for it, look around it for other things, etc.
When you’ve gone clutter blind, you become so used to seeing what fills your home, that you forget it’s clutter. You forget it’s unnecessarily taking up some of your time, space and energy every day. And making your life more difficult in the process!
Not to mention adding visual clutter to your home. Making your home look and feel less tidy and less peaceful.
But most importantly, clutter adds stress to your home. Your home stops being your haven where you can rest, relax and feel good. And instead, becomes another source of stress in your life. It becomes a never-ending to-do list you can’t quite stay on top of.
Outer order, inner calm
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Gretchen Rubin says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm”. And I couldn’t agree more!
In today’s post, you’ll learn how to get rid of clutter blindness so you can clearly start seeing what’s adding value to your life and what’s just adding clutter.
How to overcome clutter blindness
1. Give yourself a fresh perspective
The first step to overcoming clutter blindness is giving yourself a fresh perspective of your home so you can more clearly see the clutter.
Take a picture
There are a few different ways to do this, but my personal favourite is taking pictures of each area of your home.
Taking a picture is an easy way to give yourself a fresh perspective and a more objective view of your home. It makes it easier to notice areas that feel messy or cluttered. Especially ones that you are clutter blind to.
Take a picture of each space, then study it to start noticing what areas need some decluttering.
Plus, it’s always great to have “before” pictures to document and celebrate your decluttering progress. Especially if you’re decluttering a little bit at a time and lose track of how far you’ve come!
Pretend you’re preparing your house to sell
Another way to give yourself a fresh perspective is by pretending you’re going to list your home for sale. Walk through each space and try to see it through a buyer’s eyes.
Thinking of your home this way is a great way to see your home with a fresh perspective. Rather than seeing it how you’ve become used to it looking.
Ask a friend or family member to help you spot clutter
Sometimes you literally need a fresh set of eyes to help give you a fresh perspective of your home.
If you’re feeling really clutter blind, ask a friend or family member you can trust to help point out areas that need decluttering.
2. Start with a blank slate
Another great way to overcome clutter blindness is by giving yourself a blank slate when you’re decluttering.
Whatever space you’re decluttering, start by clearing everything out of the space. Then declutter and only put back what you truly use, need or love.
It can be easy to skip over things or keep them by default when you’re decluttering. Especially if you’ve gone clutter blind. Taking everything out of the space and starting with a blank slate helps you be more intentional about what you allow back into the space.
When you’re doing this method of decluttering, it can be helpful to tackle smaller spaces. If you empty out a big space, then run out of time or energy halfway through decluttering, you might be left with a big mess. Which can be discouraging and frustrating.
Instead, try tackling one drawer, one shelf, one cupboard or one small section of the space at a time. It’s a lot easier to start and finish decluttering a smaller space. And avoid ending up feeling defeated, frustrated or like things are worse than they were before you started!
3. Pay attention to what’s causing clutter
Another great way to deal with clutter blindness is by noticing what types of things tend to cause the clutter you’ve become blind to.
For example, maybe you always have a pile of mail and other paperwork on your kitchen counter and find you’ve gone clutter blind to it.
Start by identifying the problem and type of clutter. In this case, it’s mail and other paperwork piling up on your counter. Next, see if you can come up with a better system for dealing with mail and paperwork that won’t leave you with a never-ending pile on your counter.
Maybe you could create a basket or hanging file folder in a convenient spot. Maybe you can get in the habit of dealing with mail whenever it comes in so it doesn’t have a chance to pile up.
The key is noticing what’s causing the clutter. Then brainstorming new habits or systems you can put in place to prevent the clutter from happening moving forward.
4. Make sure everything has a home
“A place for everything and everything in its place” is a really great way to prevent clutter from piling up.
Clutter often results from things that don’t have a home or place to keep them. Instead, they get left out on floors or the surfaces in your home, causing clutter.
When everything has a place, it’s a lot easier to put things away and find them when you need them. And is a great way to prevent clutter from always hanging around and becoming something you eventually become clutter blind to.
The first step is sorting through the items that don’t currently have a home or place to keep them. Decide if you truly use, need or love each item and are willing to put in the effort to find a place to keep it.
Next, find homes for the things you’re keeping. Try to find convenient, easy to access homes based on where you tend to use the item. Convenience is so important. If it’s too difficult to access your item or put it away, it likely won’t get put away and will continue causing clutter and mess instead.
It may require some decluttering on your part to find homes for each item you want to keep. But it’s worth taking the time to find a spot for each item to help keep clutter from building up in your home.
5. Get rid of clutter catchers
Another great way to avoid clutter piling up that you’ll eventually become clutter blind to is getting rid of “clutter catchers”.
Clutter catchers are places where clutter tends to build up easily. For example, if you have a basket on your counter for mail, but find it quickly becomes a dumping ground for all kinds of random stuff, it’s a clutter catcher.
It can be small places, like a basket or storage bin. Or larger places, like a piece of furniture that is rarely used for its intended purpose and more often used as a dumping ground for “stuff”.
A chair in the bedroom is often a great example of a clutter-catching piece of furniture. If you never sit on the chair, but it’s always covered in clothes, it’s a clutter catcher!
Try taking your clutter-catching spots away if you can and see what it’s like to live without them. Pay attention to what used to end up in these clutter-catching spots, and come up with better systems or habits to deal with that stuff.
If the clutter-catching spot isn’t something you can remove (like your kitchen counter for example), start getting in the habit of clearing the space at least once a day. The more consistent you are with this, the less clutter will have a chance to pile up & the easier it will be to maintain.
6. Stop shuffling clutter
When you’re clutter blind and so used to certain things always being there, it’s easy to forget you might not need, use or love the things and can just get rid of them!
When you’re decluttering spaces you’ve gone clutter blind to, keep reminding yourself to decide if you truly use, need or love the items. Stop yourself from shuffling clutter from one spot to the next.
For example, if you have a pile of mail on your counter, don’t just shuffle it into a cupboard. Yes, your counter might be cleared, but the clutter is still there. It’s just in a different spot!
Instead, take the time to sort through the paperwork, get rid of what you don’t need, take action on what needs it and only keep what is truly necessary.
7. Clear surface clutter
The clutter that builds up on the flat surfaces in your home is often one of the biggest culprits of stuff you become clutter blind to.
Notice where surface clutter tends to be in your home. First, clear any surface clutter from those spaces. Then try to keep fewer things on your flat surfaces in general.
Having less stuff on the surfaces in your home makes it easier to spot clutter sooner. When the default setting of your surfaces is clear and clutter-free, it’s harder for clutter to build up. And less likely that you’ll become clutter blind to it.
Plus, clutter tends to attract more clutter. The more stuff you keep on the surfaces in your home, the more stuff will tend to end up on the surfaces, causing clutter.
Clearing the surfaces in your home is a great way to lower your tolerance of clutter, make clutter easier to spot and avoid clutter blindness.
8. Build consistent rhythms and routines to keep surfaces clear
Once you’ve decluttered your surfaces, get in the habit of keeping them clear and clutter-free. Consistent effort to keep your surfaces clear and clutter-free is a great way to avoid clutter building up that you might eventually go clutter blind to.
Build routines and rhythms in your day to clear the surfaces in your home on a regular basis to get in the habit of maintaining them.
Daily resets are a great way to do this.
A reset is a period of time, once or twice a day, where you quickly put things away where they belong and reset the space back to baseline. It’s not deep cleaning. It’s simply resetting the space back to whatever baseline or normal is for you.
And the great part is, when you reset your spaces consistently, it won’t take too long to reset them. Simply because things don’t have a chance to get completely out of control in between resets.
9. Get your family involved
If you live with other people, involve them in the decluttering you’re doing. They might be clutter blind too!
Tell your family what you’re changing and why. Share your goals for how you’d like the space to be kept moving forward. Make sure everyone knows where the new homes for things are so they know where to find them and put them away. Work on resetting your spaces together as a family so everyone shares the work.
Your family may not be as keen to cure clutter blindness as you are, and that’s ok. But you can’t expect them to change if you don’t tell them what you’re changing and why you’re doing it.
Keep communication open and work as a team to keep clutter from piling up!
Overcome clutter blindness
If you’ve gone clutter blind, I hope these tips will help you spot the clutter, get rid of it and enjoy a clutter-free home that looks, feels and functions in a way that works best for you!
What’s one area you’ve noticed clutter blindness can easily set in for you? What’s been the best way you’ve found to beat clutter blindness? Leave a comment and let me know!
Monday 3rd of May 2021
Such a great post, Melissa. It is so easy to get used to seeing certain things in certain places and you’re right - the more we have out, the more it seems to attract more stuff. I love for our kitchen table to be cleared off and it can be a struggle as the stuff that we (my husband) out there, very often is something ‘in progress’, some paperwork from a service provider that we’re in the process of going over, or pricing on something we’re comparing to other companies’, etc. I’m a naturally ‘organized’ person and it’s still hard!
Simple Lionheart Life
Tuesday 4th of May 2021
Thanks, Denise. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I can totally relate to "in progress" things, it happens to me too. You're definitely not alone! Thanks for reading :)
Monday 3rd of May 2021
I so agree! We can get used to some messes and not think anything of it. Having basically my entire living area/bedroom/office in my background on zoom has helped a lot lol. I always try to touch it once. Mail needs decided on before it leaves my hand. Clothes need put away not hung over a chair, makeup needs put away in its box not left on the counter. When you follow the touch it once rule things get put away as you go instead of creating a bunch of stuff to tidy later.
Simple Lionheart Life
Tuesday 4th of May 2021
That's very true! Having our homes on display so much on Zoom this past year really makes a difference! I love the "touch it once" rule too. I try to follow it too. It really helps stuff from piling up! Thanks for reading :)