I work out of an office. Most days, it’s just me. However, from time to time, I host a few others.
For that reason, I keep a set of four coffee mugs around. I drink coffee most of the day when I’m alone. And if there’s a meeting happening, I’m certainly brewing a fresh pot for anyone who wants it.
Yesterday, I noticed something out of the ordinary, despite working alone all week, all four of the coffee mugs were out of the cabinet.
One was next to me with fresh coffee, two were dirty in the sink, and the fourth was sitting on the counter, next to the sink.
It has been a couple busy days—the first week of the Uncluttered Course always requires a significant amount of my energy. And we just started up this Tuesday. Because my days have been full, I’ve fallen into a common trap:
I didn’t need to wash my coffee mug because there was a clean one still in the cabinet, so I just left it out dirty.
We do this all the time.
When life is not busy, or my attention is not divided, it only takes a few short seconds to hand wash my coffee mug and put it away before I leave the office. So I often do.
But during this busy week, when my attention was divided, and there were other things on my agenda, it became too easy to leave the cleaning task undone—even though it would have only taken a few seconds.
This is how our excess possessions lead to a messy home. When we have more than we need, there is less incentive to clean up along the way. And when our attention is pulled from one thing to another, this excess gets left out all too often.
Much of the mess in our home is a result of having too much stuff.
Just think of the different ways this plays out in our homes:
• We leave dirty dishes in our sink because we can grab a new one from the cabinet.
• We don’t clean our pots and pans or spatulas because it’s easy to grab a different one.
• We leave out the blanket in the living room because there’s another one in the bedroom.
• Our dirty clothes piles grow taller and taller as long as there’s something clean to wear in the closet.
• Our kids leave their toys out, all over the house, because there’s always another one they haven’t played with yet.
• Rubber bands and pens and paper clips collect in our junk drawer—way more than we’ll ever use.
• Coats gather by the backdoor because everyone in the house is wearing a different one today.
• Books and magazines and newspapers pile up on our counter because there’s always a new one to read.
• Phone charger cords can be seen in every room of the house because there’s always another one in the room we are heading to.
• Our linen closet shelves fill up with towels and sheets because there are so many that rarely get used.
• And the list goes on and on: tools, board games, yarn, shoes, sporting equipment, DVDs, video game supplies, purses…
For me, in this specific scenario, it didn’t take long to wash and dry my coffee mugs and put them back where they belong—eliminating the small mess.
But in our homes, it’s a different story.
The average American home has over 300,000 items inside of it. That’s a whole lot of excess… and a lot of mess because of it.
If your house is messy all the time, maybe you’ve got too much stuff inside it. Owning less will help you keep it clean, among other benefits.