Many people begin thinking about decluttering and organization in January, but it’s such a good idea to begin simplifying your home leading up to Christmas. Creating a more peaceful home environment can help you and your family enjoy this busy season more, and it helps prepare your home for an influx of new clutter after Christmas! Shannon of Home Made Lovely joins me in this episode to talk about her new book, The Clutter Fix. We all know that clutter doesn’t make us feel good, but so many of us get stuck on what to actually do about it. Shannon not only teaches about how to declutter and organize, but she also dives into our mindsets and personalities around the topic of clutter. This is such a practical episode with lots of bite-size, actionable steps you can take today!
In this episode, we cover:
- Mustering up your decluttering motivation with some quick wins from the get-go
- The unexpected cost of disorganization
- Uncovering your clutter personality and how you can make meaningful change
- The myth of the one-time decluttering sweep
- Changing your mindset about clutter and organization
- Handling kids’ clutter and teaching them to manage their belongings
- Taking into consideration the different personalities of our household members when it comes to clutter and organization
- Getting started: how to know what to get rid of
Thank you to our sponsors!
Toups and Co Organics uses nourishing, organic ingredients to create simple and safe skincare products. Toups and Co is offering my listeners 10% off any one purchase with the code FARMHOUSE. Visit ToupsandCo.com to order today. And check out my interview with the founder of Toups and Co, Emilie, to find out more about this amazing company and their products.
In my free Blogging Success Masterclass, I will teach you my 4-step framework for going full-time with blogging, how to avoid the most common mistakes new bloggers make that I learned the hard way, and how to make it all work with just a few hours a day. Visit bit.ly/FarmhouseBloggingSchool to find out how you can earn a full-time income by sharing what you love!
Shannon Acheson is a mostly self-taught decorator, author, and home coach. Although she has completed her interior-design training, she’d much rather teach you how to decorate and organize your own home than do it for you. She is the editor and designer behind the “everything home” site Home Made Lovely. Her happy place is in the suburbs of Toronto, where she is a Homebody with a capital H, a Jesus girl, a happy wife to Dean, and a mom of three grown kiddos. See more at homemadelovely.com.
The Clutter Fix by Shannon Acheson
50 Things You Should Throw Away Today + Free Printable Checklist by Shannon Acheson
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Lisa Bass Welcome back to this Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today I’m talking with Shannon. She is the author of this new book called The Clutter Fix about clutter. This is a topic that comes up on this podcast a lot because it comes up in our homes a lot. In order to have a simple lifestyle, which is what we talk about on here, and to effectively be a homemaker, you will undoubtedly encounter and have to know how to deal with clutter. I don’t even know where stuff comes from, but it is constantly making it into our homes. I know that, for me, it’s a constant thing. And once I feel like I’ve got a handle on one place, I need to revisit another. Right now, I’m hanging out in the kitchen, really dealing with shelves that are too full of certain plates that we don’t use as much, and pots and pans, all good things that we have just accumulated—for one reason or another—way too much of. And as soon as I get that done, I’m sure I’m going to start noticing another area that needs my attention. It may feel like it’s never ending, but we’re going to talk about some tips that Shannon has. She has some really great tips that I haven’t thought of. But also just the motivation and the reason behind why this is something to pursue in your own home, to pursue having a clutter-free home that is easy to manage. We’ll talk about how our items are inventory and they’re actually costing us something. Anyways, let’s dive in and start this amazing conversation with Shannon from The Clutter Fix book.
Lisa Bass My name is Lisa, mother of seven and creator of the blog and YouTube channel Farmhouse on Boone. Join me as I share with you my love for creating a handmade home, from-scratch cooking, and a little mom and entrepreneur life along the way.
Lisa Bass Hey, Shannon, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it. I love your pretty wall behind you there.
Shannon Acheson Thanks.
Lisa Bass I have your book. So we’re going to be talking about the topic of this book, which is clutter, something that we talk about a lot on the show, but we need reminders because it’s something that we have to constantly revisit. It’s not a one and done thing, kind of like we all maybe thought a few years ago with the Marie Kondo thing. It was like, okay, this is an event. We’re doing this. In real homes, in real lives, it continues to be a thing. At least that’s how it is for me. So let’s start with intros. Tell us about you and your new book, The Clutter Fix, or anything else you want to share.
Shannon Acheson Well, I started my blog, goodness, like 12 years ago now with like DIY projects and stuff when we were renovating a house.
Lisa Bass Yeah, you’re one of the early ones.
Shannon Acheson Yeah, it’s been a while. And so just over time, it sort of changed from—well not changed from—in addition to the DIY projects and stuff, it sort of morphed into all things home. So recipes and obviously decluttering and organizing and stuff like that and a bit of faith and that sort of thing, too, as it affects the home. And I’ve written two books now. One was Fall of 2020 and then this one this fall, too. So just cover all the things related to home. It’s my heart to help everyone make their home the best place it can be.
Lisa Bass That’s good. And that’s so important. That’s what this show is mostly about. We talk a lot about— some homestead and some food, which all has to do with home, really. So all very centered on home and simple living. So great. That’s good. I’m ready to dive into some of this, especially as the fall season goes. Obviously, it’s getting closer to Christmas. That is when— I don’t know, a lot of people think about decluttering in January, but I start to think about it now because sometimes, especially with a lot of kids, it can feel like more clutter whenever we move into the Christmas time.
Shannon Acheson So true. So true.
Lisa Bass Okay. So the first part of your book, you talk about getting some quick wins under your belt so that people can feel motivated. A lot of times it’s not that we don’t know how to do something. It’s not like, okay, I need to know exactly how to declutter. It’s more the motivation that we need. A lot of times, that doesn’t come on its own. We have to actually build the motivation in ourselves. It’s not just there. So what are some quick wins that help to boost morale and get us started with decluttering and clutter in the home?
Shannon Acheson Yeah. So there’s a couple of things that I sort of recommend for that. And one is to sort of just take a look around in any room, any space—depending on how overwhelmed you’re feeling or what you want to tackle—and see if there’s just the simplest thing, any garbage or anything broken beyond repair that you can just toss and get rid of. Because that’s just an easy, super surface-level, but it adds to the clutter, right? And so if you can get rid of that. The other thing is to run around sort of and look in each room and see if there’s something that can be put back that you know it has a home in another room and it just didn’t happen to get put back there. Right? But it’s adding to the clutter. So say it’s toys from a playroom that are in the living room or whatever it is. There’s this saying, and I can’t remember who said it, but your forks have a place. So if you found a fork under the couch, you’d know that it needed to go away. So just take a quick look around and see if something doesn’t belong there. And then the other thing is, in the book, there’s a list of 120 things that you can throw away guilt-free. So broken things, expired things, things you haven’t used for a really long time, but things that you can toss without really even thinking about because they’re kind of just no-brainers and they’re taking up space. If anybody doesn’t have the book yet, there’s actually a list of 50 things on the blog, but the book has like 120. So those things, you’ll make a bit of progress and that—especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed—will really help you feel like you can do it and sort of just give you the motivation to keep going.
Lisa Bass Mhm. Yeah. I always tell my kids that if you don’t put something back where it goes, you might as well not even own it. That’s the constant issue in our house. I was just, before we got on, I was telling Shannon that I had to kick my daughter out because she was cleaning up in here because this is her little— it’s her room that she doesn’t sleep in. But other than that, she likes to keep all of her stuff in here. And I saw her carry in two hairbrushes. And the other day, we couldn’t find a single hairbrush when we were trying to get ready for church. And then today I was in the bottom drawer where I normally keep Tupperware and glass dishes and all of that. And oh, I know— there was a ramekin in there that I use for blog photography. And I got to thinking, if I hadn’t seen this, next time I have photography to do, I will not be able to find this. It’ll be frustration. And I know that somebody just thought when they were putting dishes away, “This will be fast. This drawer is a lot easier to reach the mom’s prop cabinet,” which is like high up. But we might as well not even own it at all, because next time I need it, it won’t be there.
Shannon Acheson Right. And you’ll waste looking for it. And if you really need it and you can’t find it, you waste money buying another one.
Lisa Bass That’s what I would have had to do because I wouldn’t have found it. It’s not in a place that I would have thought to look. I would have thought, okay, maybe they shoved it into the cabinet with other bowls. Maybe it went— I could see a few places, but not the Tupperware drawer. And so I don’t really know who I can blame, but somebody needs to hear this that if you don’t put stuff back where it goes, you might as well just go ahead and get rid of it because it’s gone. It’s gone.
Shannon Acheson It’s true. It’s not helpful to you, right?
Lisa Bass No. I feel like we think that as long as we have something— I know my husband, he’s kind of guilty of this. Especially like out in our barn— which that doesn’t bother me as much because I’m not out there all the time. It’s not a place that I’m worried about keeping decluttered. But he figures if he keeps it that way, someday if he’s making something or building something, we need it, it’ll be there. But the problem is that it might be there, but we’re not going to find it. So it doesn’t really matter that we own it at all.
Shannon Acheson My husband’s a bit like that with the garage, too.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I think most guys are.
Shannon Acheson “Oh, I might need this.” I’m like, “But will you find it when you think you need it?”
Lisa Bass Right. The big key is will it actually be there whenever…
Shannon Acheson Right.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s the kicker. So what are some of the things that you found through your experience of educating people on decluttering and inspiring them on that, that you have found that people tend to want to hold on to? Like what are some common places that people constantly get backed up?
Shannon Acheson I think it depends on personality. If you are someone who worries, like you’re a worry wart and you worry, “Well, maybe I’ll need that later.” So you hold on to three can openers, for example, even though you only really need one. But one might break, so you might need that other one later. If you buy things just because they’re on sale. So like your favorite jeans are on sale, but you already have ten pairs that fit great, you don’t need another pair. People collect clutter because they tried something or they wanted to be something or they aspired to do something like, say, do yoga or have a fondue party or something regularly. And they have all this stuff now, but they decided they really actually don’t like yoga and they can’t do fondue because they’re allergic to dairy or something. But you still have the stuff from that. There’s all kinds of reasons, all kinds of— you know, some of it’s sentimental, of course. Some of it’s, you know, people have given it to you. There’s tons of reasons why people get bogged down in it. It just depends on what kind of clutter personality sort of that you have or the people in your family have as to why and what clutter that there is.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And even with the personalities, there is a way to shift and become better at something. For me, I used to be such a pack rat when I was a kid, and now I have no trouble getting rid of stuff because I’ve seen what it’s done for us. Whenever something has lived out its purpose in our home and I can let it go, I find that I can actually manage our home and it’s less inventory, less things to deal with. And so I totally feel like it can also change. And sometimes we just need reminders. Like you have that list. When I was looking through that list, I was thinking of a few things like, “Oh wait, why do I still own that?” You just forget because stuff comes in so constantly. I don’t even know how it happens, but it makes its way in all the time. So it’s a constant thing that people have to continue to do. And that’s something too, is there is no magic bullet. And with everything homemaking—whether it’s laundry routines or meal plans—we always want some kind of system or some kind of way to make it to where it’s not that hard. But in reality, I think maybe it’s a good reminder just that okay, it actually does have to be done all the time. It’s great to have the motivation and the inspiration and some step-by-step type of instruction, but for the most part, it’s just something that you just need to get up and start doing.
Shannon Acheson Yeah, and I think people’s expectations are that there’s like— my book is called The Clutter Fix, but in reality it’s work. It’s stuff that you have to do. But I think people are looking for that sort of almost one-and-done like this is—like you said, Marie Kondo a few years ago—like this is it, this will fix it and that’s it. Like I don’t have to ever look at it again. Versus this is sort of a system and then I have to get into habits and routines to help maintain this, right?
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Shannon Acheson Like your house. People are like, “Oh, what’s the quick fix? I don’t want to be cleaning my house all the time.” Well, if you live with people, somebody is going to be cleaning the house all the time. That’s just how it is.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Yeah. There’s really no way around it. There’s some habits you can get into to make it easier. Like when you’re in your bathroom, as far as cleaning goes, maybe every two or three times you go, just really quick add a little toilet cleaner, clean it out, maybe wipe down the vanity. There’s habits that make it not seem as bad, but the same energy is always expended. It’s just a constant thing that you just have to be okay with. You just have to just accept it, I guess.
Shannon Acheson Change your expectations.
Lisa Bass Right. You were talking a bit about the clutter personalities. So I think it’d be fun to talk a bit about these and the unique challenges that each of these face. We don’t necessarily have to hit them all, but I thought that was a really fun section that people can sort of self-diagnose and maybe appreciate that somebody sees where they’re coming from. So you can just bring up a few if you want.
Lisa Bass Yeah. So I mentioned sort of the aspirational kind of clutter. So if you are sort of you want to be something. There’s the bargain hunters, there’s the worrywart, like just you worry about things. There’s also the delayer, you put it off because you’re like, “Oh, I’ll just do it tomorrow,” right? Like, “I’ll just do it tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.” And then the idealist kind of thinks, “Oh, I can’t do it perfectly right now, so I’ll put it off until I can do it perfectly.” So the delayer and the idealist are sort of similar.
Lisa Bass I know somebody very well who is the idealist.
Shannon Acheson Yeah. So there’s a saying, I don’t know, in sort of the business world is “done is better than perfect” sometimes, right? Like to get the clutter out, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but if you make progress, that’s far better than leaving things as they are.
Lisa Bass Yeah, definitely, definitely.
Shannon Acheson And then some people, you have too much going on, so they’re hurrying all the time, and so they just don’t have time to find things. This is kind of what we talked about before. They don’t have time to find what they’ve not necessarily put away, but what they’ve got. So they go buy another one. And so you end up with a duplicate just because you’re rushing all the time, but you need that thing. And sometimes we get so worn out and overwhelmed that we just freeze and we don’t know what to do with it, so it just keeps coming and it doesn’t get looked after. And so yeah, there’s a lot, but once you know what your personality is or even the personality of the people in your house, you can sort of head that off a little bit and say, “Okay, well”—for example, with the bargain hunter—”do I actually really need a pair of jeans? I have ten pairs. Just because it’s on sale, do I need it?” “Do I actually need three can openers or will I be okay if one breaks to grab another one or borrow a neighbor’s or something?” Have a little faith that you will have what you need when you need it kind of thing. So once you know what your personality is, you can sort of be a little more conscious and aware of it. Like you said, you used to sort of hold on to everything, and you’re aware of it now, and so you don’t. And it just takes a little bit of practice with that.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And we also have to recognize that we do live in a different day and age. There’s a lot more availability of all the things that we would need. You could go over to the thrift shop and pick up probably three can openers or get them for $5 on Instacart or whatever app pretty quickly. So even if you do not have a can opener, you probably can get one really fast. And so stocking up on them— unless you have infinite space, but even still, you have to manage everything that you own.
Shannon Acheson You do. Yeah, everything that you have in your house is like inventory. You have to manage it and look after it and store it and move it and clean it. And yeah, not that I’m necessarily a minimalist.
Lisa Bass No, I’m not a minimalist either. But there are certain things that are certain pain points in my house where if the extra can opener is covering up the peeler or the spatula, then I then have spent all of this extra time moving things around to get to the tool that I need. At some point I feel like that can opener—the extra one—cost me a lot of time, which for all of us is a very valuable asset. And so really, it’s really like wasting something or whatever. Whereas like minimalist with things like pictures on the wall and lamps and pillows, those are all things that I’m not a minimalist about because they’re just there and they’re pretty and they’re hanging and they’re— it’s those—
Shannon Acheson And they bring you joy, right?
Lisa Bass Yes. It’s the kitchen drawers, the kitchen cabinets. Those are usually the places where— or like craft cabinets. Those are the places where I run into like this is way too much and I need to get rid of a few things.
Shannon Acheson Yeah. Same.
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Lisa Bass Okay. So another thing that you talk about in the book—I think it’s chapter three—you’re talking about the decluttering mindset. And I bet if you have one, you probably already know what that is. But it also doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. So can you talk about the decluttering mindset and how maybe if you don’t have one, how you can get there?
Shannon Acheson Yeah, I mean, one of the ways is to work on— like one of the big things is sort of to change what you think. So again, being aware of what’s going on in your head and to sort of redirect that. So a lot of times we get frustrated and bogged down and overwhelmed by clutter. It just happens. And so to change your mindset so that it’s not— you just think about yourself as a kind of person. Okay, I’m the kind of person who puts things away when I’m done with them. I keep a neat and tidy house. Reframing how you think. I have affirmations in there. Affirmation sounds so woo-woo, but it’s really not. It’s just words or a sentence that sort of reframes how you think about something. And so it’s like some of us write down things we’re grateful for every day or goals that we have, and sort of affirmations are the same kind of thing. And I’m going to make sure I put things away. I’m working my way towards a tidy house. Those sort of things that just help you think about actually being in a decluttering mindset and not being so negative and thinking, oh, I can’t do this and oh, it’s hopeless and I’m always going to be this way kind of thing. So it’s just really reframing how you think about your home, the clutter in it, and how you respond to housekeeping type things.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I feel like this is a muscle that we build over time. I’ve gotten so much better about when I see something, it just goes into the trash bag. Outside—or not outside, it’s on— we have like a little mudroom area, and our Goodwill or thrift shop bags, wherever we can take them, are constantly sitting there. Or I keep a separate bag for people that I know in my real life who would want them. But it’s a constant process of seeing something, thinking, okay, I thought that would work here, or I thought that we would use this thing, or maybe I thought the kids would play with this more, and then recognizing, okay, this maybe wasn’t everything I thought that it was. What are some of your tips? I know your kids are older now, but what are some of your tips for moms for toys and clothing? And were you able to figure a lot of this out when your kids were younger that made your systems a little bit easier to maintain?
Shannon Acheson It took practice. I mean, like you said, with the getting in the habits, it took practice. It takes time initially. It seemed overwhelming and it seemed hard. And we just— over time, we got into better habits and better grooves with things. And so when the kids were old enough to sort of walk around, they were responsible for the most part for cleaning up their toys with our guidance, with us right there beside them when they were little, right? Like I didn’t say, “Oh, go clean up the playroom.” It was no, “Here, pick up five trains. Put them in the train bucket” kind of thing versus—Thomas trains—versus “clean them all up” kind of thing. And so as far as the organizing went for then, it was buckets with a picture of what went in it on the side of the bucket instead of words, because they couldn’t read at that point. And every day before lunch and before dinner and before bed, it was, “Okay, let’s clean up what we made a mess of in the time before. So it’s time to spend 10 minutes and let’s just put everything away and straighten up before we go do this.” And so it was sort of ingrained in them from when they were pretty small to do stuff like that. Again, we were right there beside them, just helping to give direction, helping them physically when they needed it. And as far as clothing went, that was sort of a seasonal once they grew out of it kind of thing. Now I’ve learned; we actually have a basket in our upstairs hallway with a— it’s got a garbage bag in it. So I mean, it looks kind of pretty sitting in the upstairs hallway, but it’s for donations. So when they grow out of things, it goes into that basket with the bag in it. And then we just tie up the bag after, right? And donate it.
Lisa Bass You just keep it up there all the time, so that way you look as you see something— that’s a good idea because the upstairs level of the house, it is hard because you go up there, you don’t have a bag in your hand. And so you go, “Okay, next time I see that thing or those jeans with the hole,” or whatever thing, like “that didn’t fit right,” or whatever situation it might be, or “that toy never got played with.” You think you’ll just bring a bag up next time. And I try to be in the habit of always going upstairs with a bag. But the idea of keeping it in a pretty basket all the time, maybe like two— like one for stuff that can’t even go to the thrift shop because it’s just too broken or lost or ripped or whatever.
Shannon Acheson Yeah, I mean, each of the kids has a garbage can in their room for regular garbage and stuff like that. And if it’s something small, they know to put it—again, it’s got a ton of holes in it, like a sock or something—they just put it in there. But otherwise. Yeah, it’s making it easy for everyone, right? Like that’s kind of our jobs is to make it easier because by making it easier for them, it makes it easier for us.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Shannon Acheson Yeah. So they’re older now. They look after stuff, but they need reminding still. It just is.
Lisa Bass Oh yeah. Like my oldest who was just cleaning out all the hairbrushes, she’s almost 14. And we are all— like my sister, we like to compare all the time because we live so closely to each other. And she has a lot of kids and I have a lot of kids. We like to observe how we do things differently. Everybody in my family, from me and Luke, all the way to every single child, we are all less naturally organized than her family. We all just like get done with something and you might even not notice that you set it down. So it’s not even a conscious choice, “I’m not going to put this in the right spot.”
Shannon Acheson Right.
Lisa Bass So it just is altogether harder for every one of us to have a hairbrush when we need a hairbrush. My sister doesn’t have that problem. She doesn’t have the problem of when she’s going to write somebody a check, there’s no pens. Or when she’s going to get ready for church, there’s no hairbrushes or scissors. And we have a lot of pain points like that, but it does just take constant reminding. And I guess all that to say, I’m just there with you if you feel like this is a struggle. Having less inventory, though, makes it easier on us. I always tell them that if we were a little bit better about our habits, we could have more toys, we could have more storage down in the basement, but we’re not. And so we have to have less inventory for us to make that all okay.
Shannon Acheson You have to make it work for your family.
Lisa Bass I’m taking one more break from this conversation with Shannon all about clutter to tell you about my Blog Success Masterclass. I know I’ve been sharing a lot about that lately, but I’ve spent a lot of time this year revamping my whole program, coming up with a planner that will really serve you to reach your goals in 2023. Shannon and I both got our start in the online world with blogging, and for me it remains my favorite way, my favorite aspect of my business. It’s the least personal, I get the least personal feedback, I can share the least personal stuff. Unlike Instagram, where I’m constantly having to share and be on that hamster wheel, if you will. Whereas blogging, you create something that’s good, a recipe or something inspirational or a DIY project or sewing or gardening or whatever it is that your niche is, and that thing continues to stay on the internet and earn you revenue. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned so much, and I have a one-hour masterclass where I share my four-step framework for how to make an income blogging. I share all the mistakes that I made that I wish I hadn’t. And ultimately my passion for blogging is just getting stronger. I find that is one of the best kept income generating Internet secrets. So many people that I’ve met, whether it be from friends who are in the YouTube business or Instagram or products through Instagram, whatever online business they have, are really shocked to hear that blogging is still a very viable, if not my favorite and highest income earning opportunity. So if starting a blog is one of your goals for the year 2023, make sure to check out my free one-hour masterclass. You can get that at bit.ly/FarmhouseBloggingSchool.
Lisa Bass So I love your tip about having a pretty basket on the level. I almost am thinking about where else I could put stuff like that around my house. So that way, any room that— it’s almost like we’re used to having garbage bins in every room, but not stuff that’s still good that needs to get decluttered in every room.
Shannon Acheson Yeah.
Lisa Bass Were you a minimalist with your kids with the toys or those kind of things? Or how did you manage a lot of that?
Shannon Acheson So I have a son and two daughters. And so my son had all the Thomas trains over birthdays and all that stuff. So, I mean, we had a lot of wooden trains and tracks kicking around and cars and sports stuff. And then, of course, girls come—for us—came with a whole bunch of other girly things. And so we didn’t have tons and tons because we lived in a small house. But I wasn’t a minimalist either. It wasn’t, you know, “Here’s one thing.” It was really just making sure everything had a place and only keeping what we had room for, truthfully. And the routines and habits of just trying to get things put away at the end of the day or before lunch or whatever. And so that was how we handled toys when they were younger and as they got older. Books is one of those things, though, where we had a ton, a ton, a ton of books. And so we just— you know, lots of bookshelves. In their room, now in the family room. So, yeah, it depends on your family. Do you want to have lots of toys? Do you want to have fewer toys? I mean, kids tend to get overwhelmed with too many toys. Yeah. Again, it’s really what works for your family.
Lisa Bass And some kids play better with toys. That’s another thing that I’ve noticed. Some kids that I’ve observed in other families play Legos for hours and some don’t. So I guess it depends on that too. Like if you find that your kids aren’t playing with the toys, then swapping them out or just seeing how they do when you majorly cut them back. Or just certain toys. That’s something I’ve come to realize over the years of being a mom is there’s certain toys that nobody plays with. They just get dumped out. When you find a toy like that, that’s when it goes. It’s only useful if it’s entertaining the child for longer than it takes for you to clean it up.
Shannon Acheson Yeah, that’s fair. Absolutely.
Lisa Bass Okay. In your book, you also go into the organizing personalities. I didn’t write a lot of these down, but if you want to talk about those—those are different than the clutter personalities—that would be helpful, too.
Shannon Acheson Yeah. So the clutter personalities are sort of why you collect clutter and then how you can sort of not do that anymore by being aware of it and sort of counteracting that. And then the organizing personalities are based on four things. Do you want to see everything out? Do you want it behind closed doors? Do you want to use big containers for storing things in or do you want to have small containers— many different sort of subcategories of organization, I guess. And those four things make up the organizing personalities. And that’s how, once you’ve sort of purged and then you do a seasonal purge or whatever it is that you need to do, how you organize things then. And it’s different for everybody. I have a very, very creative daughter who needs to see everything out in the open and tiny little storage, and hidden storage does not work well for her. Whereas, I would rather have everything behind closed doors and for some things— you know, and it can vary in rooms, too. Bathrooms and kitchens are a little bit— you know, there’s a lot of little things. So I have many drawer dividers, but they’re all open in the drawer. They’re not closed and little boxes in the drawer. And you want to make sure that you organize the common spaces like the kitchen or the main bathroom for the simplest sort of organizer. So as much as possible, out in the open and big containers, if that’s possible. So for example, our kitchen, we have open shelving for all the plates and bowls and stuff like that because that’s just easy and everybody can see where everything goes. And that’s easy for us for hosting, too, because everyone can just grab their own plate off the shelves, right? There’s no opening all the cupboards to try and find a glass or whatever. You can see them. The kids, in their bathroom for the most part (the girls share a bathroom) and they have a tray on the counter with all their stuff. I have a tray on the counter in my bathroom with stuff, but also in the drawers, I have smaller little organization things in the drawers just because I like it that way. But the creative one would never be able to manage that, even though she shares the bathroom with her very, very, very organized sister. So you have to make it work for whatever the space is. In your own room, you can have whatever kind of storage you like. But in the kids’ space, it needs to work for the simplest form of organization for everybody.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that makes sense that we would all do it a little bit differently. I’m like you. If it’s behind closed doors, it almost doesn’t matter, as long as I can— everything looks pretty good. To a certain extent.
Shannon Acheson Exactly.
Lisa Bass If I end up having to rummage too much, that’s where I start to think that it needs to then be decluttered even behind the doors, too. Save some time. Okay, so if somebody is just starting on organizing their home, they feel like their home has really gotten away from them or they just want a seasonal reorganizing maybe, how would you recommend that they decide? I think you have a whole section in the book on how to decide what to get rid of. What are some practical tips for figuring that out?
Shannon Acheson Yeah. So what to get rid of, really there’s a few questions to ask yourself about that thing. One of them is: is it useful? Again, the can openers. Obviously can opener is useful. So when you’re trying to decide whether to get rid of something, decide if it’s useful. And then the other question after that is: is it the only thing that can be useful in that way? Do you need a melon baller when you have a knife and a knife will work just fine? Or do you legitimately make balls from melons so often that you need a melon baller? So is it useful? Is it the only thing that’s useful in that way? Or can you sort of streamline and use something else? And then is it beautiful? And “is it beautiful?” is really— that’s subjective, and only you can say whether something’s beautiful to you or not. Everything that’s useful doesn’t have to be beautiful. But for some of us, that really, really helps. If your knife set is pretty, if your measuring cups are pretty, but that doesn’t necessarily matter to everyone. And some things can be kept just because they’re beautiful. A picture hanging on the wall isn’t necessarily useful, but it sure is pretty to look at. And so those three things will really help you. Those three general questions. When it comes to clothes, it’s have you worn it in the last year? Pregnancy and nursing aside because those things, sometimes you’ll rewear them again later if you’re still having kids or whatever. But if you haven’t worn it in a year or even six months, depending on the weather where you live, do you really need it still? Do you have 15 pairs of jeans and you only need seven? Those sort of things. So once you sort of logically think about it and ask yourself those questions, it helps a lot to sort of slim down and see, okay, well, no, actually, I don’t really need this or yeah, I really do need to keep this.
Lisa Bass Yeah. It’s also important to remember—I know we already talked about this, but it’s just important reminder because it took me forever to figure this out for myself—that having an extra of anything or even just having any item does cost you something. I think people think, okay, well, why not have the melon baller in a little crock on— you know, why not have it there? But remember that if you’re not using it a lot, it does actually cost you something to keep it. And so if your issue is costs, whether that be monetary cost or time cost— because it does even cost you monetary cost, in a way, because so many times the thing that you need is hiding behind another thing. And so it does actually cost you money because you have to go look for it. But then also the time cost is something that we’re usually okay with just not worrying about when it comes to time costs. Like, well, that’s not a big deal. We see the value of money because it’s so tangible. But time, a lot of times we have a hard time placing value on that. And extra stuff does cost that.
Shannon Acheson It’s true. It does. You have to move it around to get to what you need or you have to clean it. Yeah, it does.
Lisa Bass Okay, so what are some final organizing tips that you have for us? You can talk about any of the checklists, quizzes, planners that are offered in the book. Anything that you find helpful.
Shannon Acheson Yeah. So there’s checklists in there for everything. So specifics, you know, it’s the same general steps to clean any space, but I find a lot of times people really wanted— they were asking me for specifics, like, how do I clean out the junk drawer? How do I clean out my entry closet? And so there are very, very specific step-by-step checklists in there. You can write in the book as checklists. Or if you grab yourself a copy of the book, there’s a link in the book that you can follow to download extra checklists. There are planners for how to get your habits and routines in place so that you can get up in the morning and things aren’t quite so overwhelming because you put everything away the day before. And so those habits and routines, there’s checklists and planners for those. There’s checklists for spring, summer, fall, and winter seasonal decluttering so that you know what to check as each season turns over so that you’re not overwhelmed with extras and broken things and stuff like that. So your garage, your shed, your mudroom isn’t, you know, four seasons all at once in stuff. And so all those tools are meant to be— used whatever ones that you need. You don’t have to use every single one of them, but I included them all to be helpful. And you may need them at different seasons of your life, right? If you have little kids, you might need the how to set the routines in place. But if you have big kids, your routines are sort of already set and stuff like that. So yeah, hopefully all those checklists— I mean, there’s a coloring sheet in there, too, that you can color as you declutter rooms and stuff just for fun and a lot of encouragement on how to get your mindset right and let you know that you can do it. Especially a lot of the women I’ve talked to, they’re sort of overwhelmed and feeling down about it like they can never change it, and they think that they’re sort of a— they’re stuck with their personality and they can’t change it. But you really, really can. And my heart is that The Clutter Fix will help with that, even in a small way.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that really is so important to remind people because we think that we are who we are and this is our personality. And I guess this means that I have to have a messy house or we can’t ever find a hairbrush or whatever. So yeah, it’s a very helpful book. I’ve really enjoyed it. This is out now, correct? Or is it still coming out?
Shannon Acheson Yes. Yes, it is.
Lisa Bass It is out. Okay. All right. So the book is The Clutter Fix and you can find it linked down in the show notes and the description box if you’re watching on YouTube. Make sure to check it out. It’s packed full of information to get you—or motivation, really; information and motivation—to get you going, especially in the new year whenever we’re all really thinking about that. So thank you so much, Shannon, for sharing your tips and advice and your expertise on clutter. We really appreciate it.
Shannon Acheson Thanks for having me.
Lisa Bass All right. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. I hope that you got some inspiration and a few tips that maybe will be helpful for you. I know for me, I had a light bulb moment with the keeping the clutter bins around the house. We keep trash cans, but why not clutter bins? I also encourage you to check out The Clutter Fix. There are so many fun— like, I really like the section talking about the organizing personalities and the clutter personalities. That’s really helpful if you feel like you’re stuck in your personality for your clutter situation. I know I’ve been like that. I am a creative type, therefore everything is going to be messy all the time, and we don’t really have to accept that. You can get better with all things homemaking, whether it’s meal planning or dealing with not meal planning while still being on top of things. There are habits and systems that you can really improve upon to get to that point where even though your personality might not naturally be inclined to dealing with clutter, you can get there. It’s like a muscle that you work. As always, thank you so much for listening and I will see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast.