Decluttering with Clutter Interrupted!

Last week I showed you lots of clutter pictures, especially of my Clutter (Kitchen) Island. I also told you that I found some new inspiration. Now you get to read all about it and see some progress and an after picture!

Here’s the story.

I was visiting one of my favorite organizing blogs, I’m an Organizing Junkie, and she was talking about how she was interviewed on the Clutter Interrupted Radio show. Well, I love listening to podcasts while I do household tasks like dishes and laundry (so that I’m not bored out of my mind), so I was all over it!

Once I heard the show (the hosts are Tracy and Chelle, by the way), I was pretty much hooked. So I listened to all of the archives, too. And they have great blog posts to go along with each radio show topic each week, too. Sweet!

Now for the show that inspired me and changed my thinking about my constantly cluttered kitchen island. It’s this one: Next Stop. The Clutter Zone.

On that show and in a blog post, Tracy and Chelle talk about the 3 Steps to get Started Organizing your Clutter Zone.

Here they are:

Step 1: Ask, “What is in the clutter? Why?”

This is the one that was earth shattering for me. WHY is this clutter here??? WHY? Why didn’t I think about the why before?? Maybe it was just the right timing for me to really hear this, or maybe it was my auditory learning kicking in, but it was like a lightbulb went on.

Later I remembered that I actually have analyzed my clutter once before. When I decluttered my master bedroom. That might be the only time.

Of course I needed to figure out why this island keeps getting cluttered and then make changes to help us keep it clear. And I’m not talking about a  general/big picture-type analysis, I’m talking details.

I actually wrote down a list of the things I found on the island and tried to think of why they were there. No, I didn’t write down every single item, but I did notice trends as I was writing things down. This is just the front side of the paper to give you an idea of what I did.


Step 2: Reenact: Reality first. Ideal next.

In this step we are supposed to “reenact” what happens when we put things on the island and then talk about what the ideal situation would be. The way I did this was sort of interviewing my family members (except the 3 yr. old) about why they put things on the island and leave them there.

Gabe (7), had a cheery response, “It seems like a great place to put it.”

Ok! Let’s find an even better place!

This step fit in really well with adding to that Why list I made.

Here are some of the reasons that came up more than once:

  • Item doesn’t have a “home”/Don’t know what to do with it
  • The place to put it is too hard to get to, or already overflowing with clutter
  • Keeping things “safe” (away from the 3 yr. old, usually)
  • Keeping things (usually paper) handy, because some action needs to happen with it, or it has important information to refer to later.

I sort of forgot to talk to everyone about the “ideal” part, but I know at least the adults in this house want everything to get put away in its own proper place (and some of those places are yet to be determined). There.

Step 3: Use END CLTR to organize your clutter zone.

END CLTR is an acronym for Tracy and Chelle’s signature organizing method. It gives you the steps to follow to organize a space. You can read more about it in this blog post where they used END CLTR to do a Mud Closet Makeover.

So here’s how it went for me and the island:

E: Empty

Start by emptying the space. I do this for some decluttering projects, but for some reason I haven’t done it with the island. I usually just pick and plod away at it trying to get everything put away. It wasn’t working most of the time.

So I grabbed some boxes and bins and started removing everything from the island and categorizing it as I went, which brings me to the next step….

But first I have to say that it felt SO GOOD just to get all of that stuff off that island!

N: Name Piles

THIS is all the stuff that has been cluttering up my island! Seeing it this way also helps with the “What is in the clutter?” question. There was more paper than anything. A decent amount of kid stuff, kitchen stuff, and look at that trash/recycling that was just sitting on my island!

Categories of clutter from the kitchen island

D: Decide

This is where we decide what to keep, donate, and relocate. Most of this stuff just needed to be put away in the correct place.

I put away the kitchen stuff (had to throw away a few things). I put an apple bookend in the donate bin. I put the arts and crafts stuff in the arts and crafts bin (which needs its own decluttering). I gave the kids’ stuff to them to put away (I may have thrown out a few things first).

C: Contain

The fact is, I don’t want much on my island at all, so I don’t want to do too much containing of stuff there. Right now I have 3 things that should “live” there (and they could get kicked off, too): My fruit bowl (Which should only have food, not toys and paper!), my pretty flour container, and my paper towel holder.

Here’s my BIG idea for the kid/toy clutter that I know will end up there unless I can invent a force field for protection. I’m going to keep that blue container (from the picture above) in the kitchen and whenever I find toys and such on the island, I will put them into that bin. Then it’s the kids’ job to put it where it belongs! I hope you love that idea, because I do!!

Now about that paper clutter. Huge amounts of paper clutter. Guess what? I have a solution worked out thanks again to Clutter Interrupted! One new thing I have is an inbox, but that’s not all. I’ll tell you all about it and show you pictures in my next post! I can’t wait to show you!

L: Label

Not necessary in this case. 🙂

T: Test/Treat

Now I need to test things out and see how they go. Right now things look good. I know a lot of it is just putting things away every day so that it doesn’t pile up to an overwhelming state. I may need to test out some different places for my inbox. I’m trying to pick a place that is not actually on the island, but near it.

I’m planning to test things out until October 1st, because that is about a month into the new school year, and you know school = clutter.

Can you believe I almost forgot to put a before/after shot in this post? The after picture is the “Treat” part of this T.

Clutter Island Before:

Kitchen Island 7-20-13

Kitchen Island After!!

Kitchen Island!!!

R: Revisit

On or about October 1st I’m going to revisit the kitchen island and see what is working and what needs to change (if anything). I’m going to put that date on my Google calendar to remind me.

Thanks Tracy and Chelle from  Clutter Interrupted  for helping interrupt my clutter!

And in case anyone is wondering, I am not affiliated with Clutter Interrupted in any way. I just love what they are doing and wanted to share!  🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a clutter zone where you would like to try this method? If you have any additional ideas for me, I always love to hear those, too!

I linked this post up with the Organize It! Link Party.

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, How To, Kids

20 Responses to Decluttering with Clutter Interrupted!

  1. Ohhh, that looks MARVELOUS!!! Yay!

    And even better is that you made some progress in understanding your clutter, so the changes will be more likely to stick. Super-duper. 🙂

  2. Kim

    That is awesome that you made a plan! It is even more awesome that you have the kids involved! In fact, I would make it a rule that “play time may not begin until bin is empty”!
    We *try* to enforce that rule in our house. . .

  3. Sarah Godwin

    Bravo! Yay for you identifying and clearing. You have inspired me to tackle a couple of my overwhelming spots. I don’t have an island here, but you have seen my kitchen counter. I plug away at it, but never quite get to the end. Your kitchen looks great!

  4. Abigail

    Your before and afters are always so inspiring!

    I love the analysis part. I should try that with my paper pile that lives on the kitchen counter. And the one on the Laundry room counter. And the other one on my writing desk.

    And the secret one in the kitchen drawer. 🙂

    That’s a sweet clean kitchen BTW!

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks, Abigail! Gotta love those paper piles! I would love to hear how it goes for you. I’ll be talking more about paper next week. I tackled the pile on the island, but I have plenty more to do!

  5. Chelle and I are SOOOO amazed (and proud)!! Great job! It is so rewarding to see our system used step-by-step and see how it helps people. Love the list of things in the pile and why (especially concert ticket from ’04). Way to go, Elizabeth!

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks so much Tracy! I’m already looking forward to revisiting the island in October to see how it’s going. 🙂 And yes, that concert ticket was seriously random!

  6. Wow, it looks great! I can’t wait to see how it works for you but it seems like you are going to be super successful with this new system. I love when you say school = clutter. Isn’t that the truth? Our local district is trying to cut back on paper but even so a week in and the paper clutter on my kitchen table has already increased.

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks Jean! I am seriously scared about school starting. I have some more work to do to get ready for that paper influx. I need to get it done this week!

  7. Awesome job! You must be so thrilled to have it looking so good. Isn’t it a great feeling?

    I’m working on paper clutter these days as well. It’s kind of depressing because there are bills we can’t pay, lots of cards, programs etc from my parents’ funerals, as well as missing tax forms in the clutter. (We moved in March, so it’s been getting worse for a long time.) I have no choice but to do this, but it’s really not fun. I think I’ll have a listen to Clutter Interrupted, maybe they will inspire me too. Thanks!

  8. Melissa

    Your posts are always so encouraging and motivating It seems like every surface available is a catch-all here! I wind up tossing the clutter in a bin “to go through” I’m now up to 4 totes in the storage room full of random bits! I mentioned last post I corralled the toys into bins to get sorted. Right now they have wooden blocks, super heroes, stuffies and bristle blocks to play with. They switched out little people and potato heads. I have the little people put away neatly, but the potato head parts were scattered and I just add them to the sort bin when I find them!

    • Elizabeth

      Your comments are so encouraging and motivating to me! Thank you! I know about those “to go through” bags, bins, piles…sooooo well, girlfriend! I have a bag on my front porch right now that says those exact words on it! Let’s both get going on 1 bag or bin, okay? We can do it! 😀

  9. Melissa

    Great Idea! I organized 1 bin of toys today. Each set is in its own ziplock. Once I’m done the toy bins, I hope this will make it easier knowing all of the pieces are going to goodwill or to rotate toys out.

  10. Love this idea! I love how you make it a step by step process – as you work through the steps, you feel a sense of accomplishment. I like how you put it into action. Thanks for sharing!

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks, Kristin! I need to get a post up on my “revisit” of the island. I checked out your blog, by the way. It looks like I can get some great ideas over there!

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