When you’re working to declutter your home and simplify your life, it’s important to tackle both the visible clutter you see every day, as well as the clutter that’s hidden from sight.
Sometimes it’s easy to shove “stuff” away in a closet, a cupboard, a room, etc., close the door and forget about it. And just try to pretend it’s not there anymore!
But the saying “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t really apply to clutter and the “stuff” that fills your home. Even if you can’t see it, it’s still there negatively affecting your life.
Do you have a “Monica closet”?
If you’re a fan of the show Friends, you may remember how clean and organized Monica’s apartment was. Except for her one closet of shame jam-packed with all her clutter!
My sister and I often joke about how everyone has a “Monica closet” somewhere in their house. The place where they shove all their clutter they don’t know what to do with to ignore and pretend it’s not there!
In today’s post, I want to talk about why decluttering your hidden clutter spots, or your “Monica closet”, is important to simplify your life. And how to deal with these hidden clutter spots once and for all!
Simplify your life: Identifying your hidden clutter spots
As you work to declutter and simplify your life, the highly visible clutter is usually easy to spot and identify. For example, if your kitchen counters are always covered in clutter, you probably notice it (and feel frustrated by it!) daily.
But what about the clutter you don’t see every day? Maybe you’ve worked to declutter your home but are still finding it getting cluttered and messy often. Where is all that stuff coming from??
Often, it’s coming from the places where your clutter hides. You don’t see it every day, so it’s not at the top of your decluttering priority list. But if you are ready to thoroughly declutter your home and simplify your life, you need to tackle the hidden clutter too!
Some common hidden clutter spots are places like:
- Junk drawers
- Storage rooms
- Under the bed
- Garage or shed
Sometimes your hidden clutter spots can be big spaces, like your storage room or attic. But hidden clutter spots can also be small nooks and crannies in your home where you shove stuff and hide the clutter that ends up making your life difficult.
Why is tackling hidden clutter important to simplify your life?
There are many reasons why it’s important to clear the hidden clutter when you’re decluttering your home. If you have closets and cupboards full of clutter, you’ll never fully experience the benefits of decluttering.
Here are 6 reasons why it’s important to tackle the hidden clutter, as well as the visible clutter when you declutter your home to simplify your life:
1. Hidden clutter still takes up your time
Everything you own takes some of your time and energy. You have to work to pay for it, take care of it, organize it, pick it up, look for it, maintain it, reorganize it, etc.
Even the stuff that’s hidden away still takes your time whenever you have to deal with it. Not to mention, you likely spend time trying to organize your hidden clutter spots to make them easier to use.
But organized clutter is still clutter! If you aren’t using it or don’t love it, get rid of it and simplify your life!
2. Hidden clutter still weighs on you
Everything you own takes up some of your space – taking both the physical space in your home and some of your mental space. Even if you don’t see your hidden clutter all the time, you still know it’s there. It still weighs on you and adds a burden to your life.
3. Hidden clutter never stays hidden forever
No matter how organized your hidden clutter is, it never stays hidden forever.
Either that “stuff” makes its way out of your hidden clutter spots, adding clutter, mess and stress to your life.
Or you have to dig through all that “stuff” to find something you’re looking for. Often causing even the neatest and most organized clutter spots to get messy and disorganized.
4. Hidden clutter makes life difficult
Speaking of having to dig through your hidden clutter spots, one of the big reasons to tackle the clutter you can’t see is because all that hidden clutter makes life difficult!
When you have hidden clutter spots, it makes it hard to keep track of what you have and makes it easy to lose things. Maybe you know you have a certain item, but when you actually need it, can’t find it!
5. Hidden clutter makes you feel like you need a bigger house
Sometimes when you have so much clutter hiding in your closets, cupboards and storage spaces, it makes you feel like you need a bigger home so you have enough storage space.
But more often than not, you don’t actually need a bigger home, you just need less stuff filling the one you have!
6. It feels good to get rid of hidden clutter!
Clearing the clutter from your home feels good – no matter if the clutter is visible or hidden. It gives you more time, space, energy and freedom. And just makes life easier!
“If you want to improve your life immediately, clean out a closet. Often it’s what we hold onto that holds us back.”
~ Cheryl Richardson
Knowing your hidden clutter isn’t all there lurking around trying to take your time and space is a great feeling. It frees up your mental and physical space. And simply feels good to let go of stuff you don’t use, need or love.
Simplify your life: stop delaying decluttering decisions
Often the stuff in your hidden clutter spots are things you don’t know what to do with. So instead of making a decision about whether you really need to keep something or not, you put it in one of your hidden clutter spots and leave it.
These hidden clutter spots can become a crutch that let you avoid making decluttering decisions about whether you should keep something or not. Or let you keep things “just in case” you might need them later.
But if you are serious about decluttering your house to simplify your life, shifting the clutter from one spot to another won’t help you reach your clutter-free goals.
Instead, you’re just wasting your time and effort, not actually getting rid of the clutter, just moving it around your house and avoiding making a decision.
Make a decision and move on!
The best thing you can do is tackle these hidden clutter spots head-on. Get rid of the crutch that’s letting you avoid making decluttering decisions. Decide what to do with the stuff now, so you only have to deal with it once instead of keeping it around, hiding it and having to deal with it again and again.
Just remember, if you’re not using the stuff in your hidden clutter spots now, you likely don’t need it. This quote has always been a great reminder to help me avoid filling my home with hidden clutter:
“If you’re not using the stuff in your home, get rid of it. You’re not going to start using it more by shoving it in a closet somewhere.”
~ Joshua Becker
As you simplify your life, remember everything you own should add value to your life because you use it or love it. If it doesn’t – get rid of it, don’t hide it and try to forget about it!
Organizing is not the same as decluttering
When you’re tackling your hidden clutter spots, it’s also important to remind yourself that organizing and decluttering are two different things.
Always declutter first before attempting to organize. Be ruthless and only keep the things you use or love. Everything you choose to keep should add enough value to your life to justify the time, space and energy it takes from you.
And remember, just because you have space to keep something, doesn’t mean you should keep it!
How to tackle your hidden clutter spots to simplify your life
This might all sound good and you’re ready to tackle your hidden clutter spots, but how do you do it??
First, figure out why you’re holding on
One of the first steps of tackling your hidden clutter spots is figuring out why you’re holding onto this stuff, to begin with. Often once you know why you’re holding on, letting go becomes easier.
Whatever it is, spend a few minutes looking into why you’re holding on to this stuff. Once you know what’s at the root of the problem, you’ll be better equipped to make a plan to deal with it.
Approaches to tackle hidden clutter spots
When you are working to declutter the hidden clutter spots, there are a few different approaches you can use.
The key to all of them is to be as ruthless as possible. These hidden clutter spots are often filled with things from all over the rest of your house that you didn’t know what to do with. Now is the time to make the decisions.
Be ruthless – if you don’t use, need or love it, get rid of it!
Approach #1: Take everything out
The first approach is to take everything out of the space. Then only put the things you need, use or love back in.
This is great for smaller spaces like a cupboard, small closet or junk drawer. Starting with a blank slate is a great way to make sure things you don’t use or love aren’t sticking around accidentally or by default simply because you’re so used to seeing them there.
Instead, you can intentionally decide the fate of each item as you decide what to keep.
Approach #2: Break it into smaller sections
If tackling the whole space at once feels overwhelming, you can break the job down into smaller sections. For example, instead of emptying the entire closet, work on one shelf at a time.
Again, clear out the section you’re tackling, then only put back the items you use, need or love.
Approach #3: Box it all up
Another great way to tackle decluttering your hidden clutter spots is to take everything out and box it all up. Then only take things out of the boxes as you need and/or miss them. After a certain amount of time, say 3 months, for example, get rid of anything still in the box.
This is a more extreme method but is a great way to see what you actually use and need, and what you can easily live without.
How to keep your hidden clutter spots from coming back
Once you’ve cleared the clutter from your hidden clutter spots, the next step is making sure they stay clutter-free!
Get rid of your clutter crutch
Your hidden clutter spots have been your crutch, allowing you to shove clutter in and avoid dealing with. If you want to prevent hidden clutter from piling up again, get rid of anything that gives it the chance!
There are a few different ways to do this. One way is to use the space for something else so it’s not tempting you to fill it back up with clutter.
For example, if your linen closet was a dumping ground for hidden clutter, use your linen cupboard to hold your linens so the space isn’t available for clutter. Keeping it organized and neat will help make it easier to maintain and encourage you to keep it that way.
Another way is to get rid of any extra organizational bins and containers once you’re done decluttering. Often bins, containers and baskets are easy to fill with clutter simply because the space is available. Remove the temptation by getting rid of the places for clutter to hide!
Give everything a home
Another great way to avoid hidden clutter spots is by giving everything you’re keeping a home. Clutter is often the result of things that don’t have homes or specific places to keep them. That’s when it’s easy to shove stuff somewhere and tell yourself you’ll deal with it later.
As you’re decluttering, make a point to give each item you’re keeping a home. Not only will it make it easy to find the things you own. But it will also help you avoid shoving things away and creating hidden clutter spots.
Set up systems to maintain your spaces
An organized and clutter-free home requires ongoing maintenance to keep it that way. Set up systems and routines to keep clutter from building up again in your hidden spots.
The great thing is, the less stuff you have, the easier your home will be to maintain!
I hope this post helps you tackle the hidden clutter in your home. It’s easy to avoid or overlook the hidden clutter, but it’s important to tackle these hidden clutter catchers so you can declutter your home more thoroughly and simplify your life!
Do you have a “Monica closet” in your house? Where are your biggest hidden clutter spots that you want to tackle? Leave a comment and let me know!