Tackling Clutter Problem Areas: Our Whimsical Message Center

Tackling Clutter Problem Areas Graphic

We all have at least one area in our home that is an ongoing problem area. Some parts of our homes, once organized, require only minimal and routine maintenance. But others seem to grow clutter like kudzu. For my husband and me, that area is our mail, receipts, and action items. “Action items” are any papers that require an action to be taken—a doctor’s bill, for example, or a form to be filled out.

The problem grew worse, however, once we moved to the townhouse. I don’t really know why, but suddenly receipts were popping up like weeds in our living room, mail was scattered all over the entertainment center, and one of the pair of storage ottomans in our living room had gone from a place to rest your feet to a pile of “to-do’s.”

A living room is meant to be a room for relaxation. It’s the place where hubby and I sit and chat over coffee or tea, where we lounge and watch our favorite TV shows, where I curl up with a cup of tea and a good book, where I frequently have writing sessions.

In terms of feng shui, our living room encompasses our helpful people/travel area and our creativity area. For me, clutter is like a bucket of cold water dumped on the fire of creativity—and that is not the kind of energy I want in a space.

The most obvious solution was to create an organizational system in our home office, but it’s upstairs on the far end of the house—admittedly, it’s not a large house, but if you’re carrying in mail at the same time as groceries and dog food at the end of the work day, you don’t necessarily take the time to carry receipts and mail upstairs.

Enter our messaging center. It was a simple fix, really. A cheapo, wall-mounted file organizer from Target combined with some fun art—a Harry Potter themed “No post on Sundays” image that I made in Word and printed on some cardstock, and a little bit of magical flair add some visual interest to the space. Envelopes sort receipts into “shred,” “keep for 30 days,” and “file” categories (file would be for large items with warranties—a TV, for example). There’s also an envelope for coupons, and two sections, one for action items, another for incoming mail.

It doesn’t eliminate the need for maintenance, but it does eliminate the stress seeing mail, papers, and receipts strewn about the living room caused me. And really, such items didn’t belong in the living room anyway. Now I can sort through items once a week, and they’re all there waiting for me in one place.

I challenge you to find such an area in your home and brainstorm ways to corral the clutter. Of course, you will need a maintenance routine to keep things from piling up, but understanding which areas are problematic for you can go a long way to helping keep those areas manageable. Papers always have been a problem area for my husband and me, but some hard work at clearing paper clutter, followed by carefully designed storage is helping keep those areas much more manageable.

As for the creative aspect of my life, it seems to be thriving these days. I’m about 15K into the first draft of my novel Wild Tarot, the first in the Wild Fae Trilogy. I’ve been reading up a storm as well, including books on fairy witchcraft, deep point of view, and some lovely magical fiction reads, including Ellen Dugan’s Gypsy Chronicles and Kiss of the Silver Wolf by Sharon Buchbinder.

We’ve been tending hearth and home as well. I did a massive space clearing with some sage and rose incense on last week, after we thoroughly cleaned the house, and I ordered some sweetgrass so we can invite some good, magical spirits and energies into the house. We’re chipping away at clutter and planning out some major home renovation projects as well. The energy in the townhouse feels lovely and peaceful, and settled, which it didn’t for a while. It is becoming the tidy, cozy, whimsical home, a place for creativity and magic and love, that I always knew it could be.

And, of course, stories are unfolding. I hope someday soon to introduce you to Morgana, Rowena, and Sylvie, the three sisters in the Wild Fae trilogy.

Until then, may magic and light be with you!

Please share your comments below! What areas are problematic for you? Have you created a system for addressing these areas?

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9 thoughts on “Tackling Clutter Problem Areas: Our Whimsical Message Center

  1. Chris Kincaid says:

    Our clutter problem is also the mail, bills, etc, which wander at will all over the kitchen counter. The real problem is my husband, who brings in the mail, scatters it across the counter like he was splaying a hand of cards and then announces “I went through mine, the rest is yours.” I love him to death, but sometimes he is just a jerk! I haven’t found an easy fix, except that after he scatters the mail, I gather it back up, go through it, put the bills in the “bill basket” (which was really a cookie jar when it first came home), take care of my “stuff” and put his “stuff” in a pile on the corner of the counter. Yes, his pile gets a little high, but it is his problem to deal with. Usually when it is so tall that is starts to fall over, he will take care of it.
    Glad your clutter problem is solved and hopes it stays well managed.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      It sounds very similar to our problem, except my husband doesn’t handle his own mail–I end up sorting everything. The file organizer helps a lot because everything has a spot, and I can go through things once or twice a week and it stays fairly well-managed. Your husband’s “pile” sounds a lot like my husband’s desk in his office. Last week we were tidying up that room and I asked him to clear off his desk so I could dust it, and he looked at it and said, “It’s as good as it’s getting.” So I dusted the bare spots. Lol. Such is life. I am far more minimalist than my husband, but we’re managing to meet in the middle. 🙂

  2. shanjeniah says:

    Well, at this point – most of life is a clutter. I’m dealing with it slowly, with a goal that there will be nothing in my personal space (my bedroom/workspace/retreat) that I don’t love, use, or want in my life).

    The kids are, for their own reasons, and in their own ways, starting to better tend their personal spaces, as well.

    Jim, of course, is no longer able to declutter anything – and he was a man with a LOT of clutter. Little by little, I’m getting through it, keeping what I feel honors him and our life together, and moving the rest toward another destination….

    I have an increasingly vivid idea of what I want our (eventually my) home to be…but it’s going to take a while, and, right now, it can’t include renovations, because our finances don’t support that.

    Still, like you, I am inviting in magic, grace, space, and beauty.

    Enjoy!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      I find that in life there are seasons of chaos and seasons of calm. I am gearing up for a period that is promising to be a flurry of activity, and letting go of old possessions is helping me move toward that. I’m clearing space for whatever new adventures lie ahead and letting go of things so there’s space for new ventures and existing passions to flourish.

      I often find that as I declutter, major changes that would be expensive seem unnecessary. A space that we feel would look better with brand new furnishings suddenly blossoms when we pare away the excess. You’re right that renovations are expensive. We’ve had some unexpected ones come up, and now we’re moving toward some of the more expected ones, those we knew were on the horizon when we bought our townhouse.

      Good luck in your decluttering. My belief is that we can let go of the object but hold on to the memory, and it sounds like you’re doing just that.

      • shanjeniah says:

        I have a wooden box where I keep smaller tokens, and have moved others throughout the house, so we have something of Jim still in our spaces. Yesterday, I cleaned his toiletries. Saved a tiny bottle of after shave (he used Brut), because the scent evokes his memory, and let the rest go.

        Most of the renovation we’d like to do involves a new roof (ours leaks) and ceilings/floors, though I am considering redoing the porch to be more inviting for hanging out on, and making a walkway from slate we already have, and a woodshed from Jim’s and my old bed, which he made himself, but which I wasn’t sleeping well in alone.

        I agree; paring down and reorganizing go a long way toward adding a breath of freshness to a space. Much of the furniture we’ve ever acquired has been free or bought second-hand. I’d much rather repurpose something we have than spend money and resources on new items, most of the time. I like things with stories, even when I don’t know them.

        Adding Noli and baby Smokey to the family was another wonderful way to add a certain kind of homey canine magic.

      • Denise D. Young says:

        It sounds like you have a firm handle on what you want to part with and what you’re keeping. You’re well on your way.

        I love the idea of reusing/repurposing things, especially furniture, and transforming them into something new. For years our entertainment center was one we made from a gutted TV center that belonged to my husband’s great-grandmother. It was from back in the day when TVs were built into the cabinet, and when we found it in a shed it was just this hollowed-out cabinet. We added shelves and used it for years, until we upgraded our TV and the new one was too wide.

        And hurrah for canine magic! We have our lab mix, Leo, who adds a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to our house–and maybe just a little mischief. 🙂

  3. Heather R. Holden says:

    My receipts tend to become a cluttered mess, too. Your messaging center sounds like a great way to help keep things organized!

    And wow, that’s awesome how you’re 15k words into your new book already. Looking forward to the day you can share more about your Wild Fae series!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Receipts are difficult. We get so many of them, and some are important, others not so much. The envelope system I’ve created is working well for us so far, and the file sorter has given us a handy place to temporarily store items–provided we can keep up with it and not let it overflow!

      Thanks, Heather! I just surpassed the 21K mark this evening, so I’m guessing I’m about one-third of the way through the story. Really love this story and the characters, and I’m pantsing this one, so I keep getting surprised. Morgan Le Fey even made an appearance. 🙂

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