Clearing clutter – the grouping technique

Clothes pinsWhenever my family come to stay the end result is always the same. Mess. They don’t mean it, they just have a lot of clothes, bags, accessories that they need to bring for ‘staying the night’. And I’m sure they don’t forget on purpose to take their belongings with them when they go, but nine times out of ten their clutter remains. Their visits mean extra bedding and towels have to be brought out of storage, to be used and then washed again. Plus my partner and I fall behind on our chores because we are too busy enjoying entertaining our guests, to tidy and clean as we go.

How do I cope with this? Answer – a major big tidy up. When the mess threatens to overwhelm me here’s what I do – I start grouping.

Grouping is the answer when there is mess and clutter spread out over multiple rooms. When this happens, you may be in danger of running from room to room doing a little bit here and a little bit there and ending up really upset and frustrated when you don’t make any difference. Grouping enables you to take a systematic approach to the clutter. Here’s how.

Grouping helps you concentrate on one type of item at a time, helping you to focus your efforts.

Take clothes for example. At any given time I may be confronted with clothes that are dirty and need washing and clothes that are clean and need putting away and/or clothes that belong to my guest that could be either category. I start by putting anything dirty in the laundry basket, then fold/hang up anything that is clean. I put my guests clothes in two bags. One big one to hold all their stuff and any dirty clothes in a separate bag. I go from room to room until all the clothes are in their rightful place.

Grouping can prevent you from running from room to room

Although its useful to clear big items room by room, for small items that have ended up in the wrong place, running from room to room isn’t so helpful. In this situation there may be multiple places to return items to, rather than just in the wardrobe, or laundry basket. Instead, pick up all the items that don’t below in the room you are focusing on and put them in a box (or failing that on top of table) so they are all together. You can then return to the pile and regroup them by their correct room or storage home later, once you have finished tidying up the room you are in.

Grouping helps you identify how much work other people are generating

It may not just be guests who are causing your problems – it may well be your own family. When you are clearing up the kitchen and for example start grouping ‘recycling’ together you may begin to spot patterns of mess. Does your partner always fail to wash out the milk carton when they have finished it and leave it on the counter instead of the recycling? Does your daughter leave empty plastic bags strewn around the kitchen. When you have spotted a pattern, then think about how you can persuade the people who visit or live you to change it.

Grouping will make you feel like you are making progress

When you look at the mess as a whole, what it the first thing you focus on? Is it all the dirty washing, is it the papers? Is it the unwashed crockery? What is the first thing that makes you inwardly groan and think why is there always so many ‘insert items here’?. Whatever those items are, focus on those first – group them all together and then sort. When you look at the mess again, your number one bugbear will be nowhere to be seen. This should encourage you to keep on with the sorting.

Grouping helps you identify duplication

You may find that as you group, you discover that you have many of the same items that can be used for similar things, or even more than one of the same item. Do you really need that many plates? Are all those pillowcases necessary? Are some items in better repair than others? At the end of every tidying up session there should be at least one item that you can get rid of, helping you limit your items to necessities only.

Next time you are faced with a mountain of mess – try grouping and see how you get on. Please let me know your thoughts when you do.





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