I’m going to admit it right here in front of the world. I have a problem with surface clutter. My desk, my nightstand, our table, and our kitchen countertops are all covered in clutter. I recognize it as a problem, but it’s one of the hardest things for me to overcome. It’s one of the reasons we saved the kitchen countertops as the last area in our kitchen purge.
I was so determined to dive into this project that I forgot to take a before shot. Here is the after shot.
It’s better, but I’m not satisfied quite yet. I’d really like to get to a point where there is not a single item on the counter unless we are in the middle of cooking. Let me try to paint a picture of the area before the purge and share the process of purging this area.
We had three big piles of paper items. One was mail to be gone through. Things like bills and magazines mostly. This was my pile. It was things that I had to go through and process, either pay the bills, trash the junk mail, and read or trash the magazines.
Dream had her own pile. This pile contained receipts, school dates and appointment reminders, notes on personal items, and drawings or art projects created by our daughter Faith.
The third pile was mostly an overflow of my mail pile. It was things that needed to be looked at before trashing or filing. Things like the mortgage bill which is set to auto-pay. We also had a couple books that had been loaned to us, and our Netflix movies of the week.
The third pile was the easiest to process. We opened the mail, processed it as needed, and then disposed of it. The books were moved temporarily to our bookshelf until they can be returned. The Netflix movies remained, but I think we may move them to a cabinet in the TV stand where they’ll be hidden from view until watched and returned.
The mail pile was second easiest. I went through it and tossed all the catalogs and magazines. Most of the magazines I’m talking about here are local freebies or things like the AAA magazine that are of minimal interest. The only magazine we actually subscribe to is Consumer Reports, and I’m planning to cancel that as my path towards minimalism includes less consuming. Also, magazines turn into clutter too easily as they aren’t often trashed or recycled at completion, but instead seem to linger for a while.
The hardest pile was Dream’s paper pile which included sentimental papers. We moved through the useless items pretty quickly. School dates and appointments were transferred to her calendar. Receipts were trashed. Then we came to Faith’s artwork. We decided to photograph the best of the bunch and then move it to the trashcan. We did end up keeping a couple of items that the photographs could not capture appropriately. These were handprint and footprint creations, so we moved those to our scrapbook box in the office.
Other Countertop Clutter
Once we got past the piles we moved on to other things. We had a picture frame that was constantly in the way. It was set to the edge of the counter, out of the way of cooking, but it was right in the way of the paper towels. Every time I put a new roll on, I’d have to move the picture frame. Also, as the countertop became less cluttered, it looked out of place in that location. I moved it to a small counter area between the fridge and the stove. This area is rarely used and the picture looked more appropriate there.
I mentioned in part 2 of the kitchen purge that I moved my wallet, keys, and cell phone into a drawer to reduce surface clutter. When I did that I also disposed of all the receipts and miscellaneous junk that seems to accumulate. I’ve managed to keep that area clean and to keep the receipt clutter from entering the drawer.
Dream keeps her purse on a countertop also. Her purse area also accumulated clutter around it. She had some items to return to the store, and things to share with some friends. We took care of the returns, and the items destined for friends made their journey. I’d like to be able to clear that area of her purse and cell phone, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I can’t think of a more appropriate and equally convenient spot at the moment.
The piles of paper, Dream’s purse area, and my wallet area constituted the bulk of the clutter. We also moved the coffee pot into the pantry since it’s usually only used on weekends.
I Need Your Help
I have lived with piles and piles of papers, magazines, books, etc. all my life. All the way back to my childhood I remember piles of clutter. I’m not sure my parents are to blame for my surface clutter problem, but I have decided to make a conscious effort to change. Surface clutter is a major problem when we have guests or visitors. It always takes great effort to clear these areas so that nobody sees the mess. I really want to get to a point where the surface clutter is gone and all the remains is the clean straight lines of the countertops and surface areas. A cleared countertop is a beautiful thing, and I want that to be part of my daily existence.
I need help! Now that I have mostly cleared the kitchen countertops, I need your help. I need some suggestions on what to do with the remaining items. Here is what we have left, and I’d really like to find a better space for these.
- Two cell phones. We keep our phones near our wallet/purse area so that we don’t forget them as we are gathering our stuff. The electrical outlets are not accessible from any drawers so these cell phones and chargers have remained on the countertops. Also, we don’t have a landline home phone, so we need the phones to be easily accessible.
- Dream’s purse. Neither of us is sure of a good place to keep it. It’s also kind of tied to the cell phone problem, as we need to keep it near the phone so we don’t forget the phones.
- A calendar. Dream refers to her calendar daily. I initially moved it to a drawer, but it gets referred to daily, so it’s kind of a hassle to move it in and out of the drawer. Maybe we’ll eventually upgrade to smart phones and the calendar can be digitized, but for now it sits on the counter.
- A toaster and a can opener. Both are used several times a month or more, but I don’t necessarily see a need for them to sit on the counter when not being used. What do you think?
- Keeping it clean. I realized very quickly that it is hard for us to keep it clean. We decluttered and cleaned about a week ago, and by this weekend it was already messy again. Bread for Faiths lunch and a bag of walnuts for snacking was on the counter, school papers appeared, and a small pile of mail ended up on the counter. I suspect we just need to practice taking care of things and putting them away right after use, and it may take a few weeks or months of this to develop the habit.
Please add your suggestions to my plea for help in the comment section below. Thanks in advance for helping me to deal with my surface clutter problem.