how to sort out boxes of mixed clutter

Have you got bags and boxes of mixed clutter

I don’t know anyone who is free of these boxes of miscellaneous clutter. They contain everything from vital paperwork to useless bits of tat.

how to sort out boxes of mixed clutter

We have been talking about sorting out our clutter boxes in the less-stuff Facebook group this week. They are our clutterbags, clutterboxes, piles and monstrous collections of mixed up stuff. The stuff in them makes no sense and has no theme. It is random mixed up clutter that is hard to manage.

Are you filling all the space?

Like a fish that grows to fill a tank, I will use as much space as I have. When I was at college I had an 8ft by 4ft work table all to myself. In a class of 20 we all had one this size. When the rest of the year went off on a trip to Paris I couldn’t afford I managed to spread my work out over all of the other tables! The same happens with boxes and containers. If I have them around, I will fill them with things.

Storage solutions gone wrong

Have you ever bought a nice sturdy box to tidy things into? You can see it in your imagination as the solution to all your problems, it will fit nicely behind the sofa, it will be useful, your home won’t be so messy any more……. in reality the only solution these things bring is to hide things away from sight. Unless you have a designated area for the type of things you put in boxes they generally do not work.

How to sort out these boxes of mixed clutter easily

Most decluttering methods will tell you to turn out those boxes of mixed clutter and sort through them in one go. Ruthlessly chucking anything you do not immediately need and getting them to an empty status as quickly as you can. I don’t like this method one bit. For a start it is intimidating. It will take lots of time and energy too. Most importantly, it fills me with dread and I will not do it. There is a better way!

Get 2 boxes ready

The majority of stuff in my mixed boxes has no permanent home. With the 2 box method you can pick through a clutter box and decide what needs to be donated and what is important enough to keep.

get 2 boxes ready

There is no need to turn everything out

This is my easy way of sorting through the random boxes. Skim off the surface layer of stuff you clearly do not need first. Then you can start to think more carefully about what is left.

How to make sense out of mixed clutter

  1. Choose a box of mixed clutter
  2. Pick out 5 random things
  3. They will fit into one of these categories:
    • rubbish to be thrown away
    • something that can be tidied away where you will be able to find it again (do that asap!)
    • stuff that can be donated goes in the donate box
    • things you want to keep go into your second box

This does not solve the long-term problem of having random collections of things in storage around your home. What it does do is leave you with a box of things that really do need their own place. You need to get that first box of things to keep full so you can see patterns emerging.

A place for everything

You might need to allocate a jam jar for foreign coins. A box purely for knitting needles might make life easier for you. Once you can see the gaps in your real working storage solutions they will be easy to fill.

Dreaded paperwork

If paperwork makes up the bulk of your mixed clutter you might want to consider setting yourself up a filing system that works. I’ve written step by step instructions in ‘From Piles to Files‘ but a good start is a least to get all your bits of paper into one place.

from piles to files

What can you do with the empty storage boxes?

Are they working for you? Can you find a way to label them so you know what is in them? If you can get them to do their job properly that is great. If you find they just attract clutter then maybe it will be easier for you without that kind of solution.