Here are 10 Commandments to not get overwhelmed by household clutter:

10. Thou shalt not keep clothing that you “might wear again someday. Maybe. If I lose x pounds. And big puffy sleeves come back in style.” Donate it and lose the weight of excess stuff.

9. Thou shalt not keep every “ooo! that’s a good one for shipping” box that crosses your threshold.

a. This goes for ones you come across at work, too,  and
b. Don’t even think about that one your neighbor just threw out.

8. Thou shalt consider space before buying - eg., a four-foot by two-foot kitchen appliance that will sit on a kitchen counter with not even a one-foot by one-foot open space. Nuh-unh.

7. Thou shalt toss the junk mail when it comes in. This includes the Totally-Wonderful-Useless-Gadgets-I-Have-No-Need-Of-And-No-Room-For catalog. In fact, especially that one.

a. This means setting aside the bills in a spot designated only for them. and
b. This does not mean putting all 1200 weekly requests from the adorable-children-and-puppies-with-big-eyes charities in that same place as the bills. Pick one if you feel charitable, write the check, and then toss the rest.

6. Thou shalt not think of the entire house at once - it’s too much. Pick a set time, clean what is in front of you for that time, and then stop - hurray! - have a piece of chocolate. You may not be “done” - but for that moment, it is enough.

5. Thou shalt do a little each day and rejoice in that bit of progress. Rejoicing may involve more chocolate.

4. Thou shalt realize it can take less time to do something than to complain about it. “Progress” will fit into the time you genuinely have: It only takes four minutes to empty the dishwasher - I know. I’ve done it while waiting for my coffee press to brew.

3. Thou shalt learn the lightness of being. And being lighter means that you may rinse and toss that margarine container - you have ten just like it. The lid, too. And the only slightly used plastic box from take-out. Plastic zip ties from the dog’s new lead?? Unless you right this very second have a tomato plant in danger of expiring if not properly supported - Do I have to even say…?! ( Yes, this kind of repeats commandment 9, but it bears repeating - because I saw you eyeballing that margarine tub…)

2. Thou shalt, once a month, TO-TAL-LY denude a small area of all “stuff”, clean it lovingly to it’s deserving shine. Put back ONLY what belongs there. Find a home for the rest - in yours, or someone else’s, or send it on to the homeless stuff center (donate-recycle-refuse).

1. Thou shalt NOT feel guilty about rehoming stuff that does not belong in your home. Only you (and possibly other persons you live with) get to decide what belongs there.

Breathe. There’s more air when there’s less clutter.

© Beverly Delidow, Ph.D.  Beverly is a professor, writer, and photographer in West Virginia.  She has published articles, fiction, poetry, and photographs in a number of forms.  You can reach Beverly at

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This