Guest Post! “Putting Things Away” by Caitlin

25 01 2010

This is a guest post written by Caitlin of Cluttercubed as part of a swap with Clutterbrained. Check out Ito and LM’s take on the subject over on ClutterCubed.

You’ll note that Caitlin has things together and is a lot further down the road then we are. Hers is a fantastic guide to PTA while ours is more like a stereo cry for help. We appreciate any and all comments!

Caitlin says:

Getting organized is simple! All you need to do is put things away after you are done using them. Easy as pie, right?


Photo by camknows

For people who have never struggled with clutter, it’s easy to assume those that do are lazy, undisciplined, or simply don’t care. “Just put things away”, they say, “It’s not that hard”. If you have struggled with clutter, you know it’s not that easy.

So why is it so hard to put things away?

Three major reasons are:

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of motivation
  • Unsure of “proper” storage location

Lack of Time
When you’re standing in the middle of a cluttered, messy house, it can seem overwhelming. It can seem like it’s going to take weeks to put all your stuff away, and you’re a busy person. You just don’t have that kind of free time. Or do you?


Break the task down into smaller, bite-sized chunks of time. Cleaning up for 2 hours a day might be difficult for you, but anyone can find 15 minutes in a day. Get an egg timer if you like, but make sure you tidy up for 15 minutes each day. You can go longer if you like, but do at least 15 minutes. You’d be surprised how much can be done in that amount of time!

Lack of Motivation
It can be frustrating to spend hours cleaning up, only to have it seem like you’re not making much progress. You may feel like there’s no point in putting things away, you’re just going to get them out again later so why bother?

Remember that decluttering is a process, and it’s not going to happen overnight. Keep in mind that everything you put away is one less thing cluttering your house. The more you put away, the more often you’ll remember to put things away when you’re done using them. When you get up to leave a project, put it away. If you put it away in he same place each time, you won’t be tempted to leave things out in order to remember to work on them.

Unsure of “proper” storage location
This one is a biggie. If you’re not sure where something should go, how can you possibly put it away? If you set out to declutter for 15 minutes and then pick up and item and are not sure where it belongs, it can be tempting to just set it back down and let it keep being clutter.

Don’t worry about creating elaborate organizing systems just yet. Simply focus on putting like with like. Keep all your office supplies together. Paper, pencils/pens, stamps, stapler, etc. Put them neatly in a desk drawer, so you’ll always know where they are when you’re looking for them. Put batteries in one location, and keep your medications grouped together. If you’re still not sure where things “should” go, try organizing them into bins for now. If you don’t have a designated craft area, put all craft supplies (paint, glitter, scissors, stickers, etc) into a craft bin. That way, these items will have a proper home, and you’ll always know where to look for them.

Putting things away is one of the most basic aspects of decluttering, but if it were easy for everyone, we’d all have photos of our homes on Apartment Therapy. We all have reasons that make it difficult for us, but following these steps should make it easier.

What’s your biggest stumbling block when it comes to putting things away? Let us know in the comments!




4 responses

25 01 2010

Caitlin, I loved these solutions. They are really helpful. I think I can get behind these. I think my biggest problem is what to do IN THE MOMENT when I am coming in the house, and I’m just like… “drop everything on the floor.” Or when I come home from a trip and I don’t unpack for weeks/months. (ARGH) That is where I really need some kind of intervention. Help!!!!!

25 01 2010

I find the “drop things on the floor when you get home” problem can be alleviated by designating a specific place for those things. Rather than drop stuff right there, but your bag on a hook, put your keys in a dish (or back into your purse, but who has time to fiddle with zippers and buckles when you first get home? ^_~ ) and put the mail on a tray.

As for the suitcase thing, I used to be terrible about that too. I’d go to pack for a trip, and discover things still in the suitcase from my last trip! o_0 Ugh! What I finally had to do was upend the suitcase on my bed as soon as I got home. Even if I didn’t put it away right then (and in the beginning, I totally didn’y), well, you can’t sleep in a bed covered in dirty clothes! Toss them in the hamper, toss the toiletries back in the bathroom, and any papers in the office. Even if you don’t properly put them away, at least they are out of that suitcase!! Then the next day, take 15 minutes and put away those things.

25 01 2010

If you need an organizing break.. it brings the LOL’s. (Caution: bad language present)

25 01 2010

Oh I like that suitcase-dumped on a bed solution. Although you underestimate my capacity to sleep on a bed with a lot of junk. It’s an awfully big bed. LOL
But it would definitely be an incentive to PUT the stuff AWAY!!!!!!!! Thank you Caitlin!

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