We’ve all done it. Guests are on their way, and while you’re juggling cooking, cocktails and setting the table, you’re also doing a last-minute tidy. As as result, you hide that pile of bills you were in the middle of sorting through in a drawer and stuff the kids’ toys behind a house plant, while the tangle of charging cables wind up beneath a couch cushion.
It’s called “stashing,” and it’s a bigger problem than you might think — especially when it comes time to stash something in a drawer again, and it’s already full of the stuff that you stashed there last time, that you still haven’t dealt with.
To put it bluntly, stashing is the gateway to a slippery slope that ends with a starring role in an episode of Hoarders.
Break the Stashing Habit
As organizing and lifestyle expert Lorie Marrero explains, this is a horrible habit that needs to be broken, as it’s indicative of deeper behaviour that should be addressed.
“Neat does not equal organized,” says Marrero. “Your space may look better, but behind that pretty facade is a nest of delayed decisions and delayed actions. Your clutter is manifested procrastination!”
Thankfully, Marrero has a quick and easy solution to help overcome stashing: try loading all the stuff you would normally stash into a laundry basket. Then, when it’s time to do laundry you’ll be forced to deal with what’s in there — either put it where it belongs, or get rid of it. It really is that simple.
Cut the Clutter
Of course, the key way to kill a stashing habit is to cut down on clutter so there’s less stuff to stash in the first place.
Different parts of the home can benefit from different tips. For example:
- Make your bed every morning: Clutter attracts more clutter, and an unmade bed can lead to all sorts of clutter collecting in the bedroom. A neatly made bed, however, will have the opposite effect on your psyche by encouraging you to keep the rest of the room as tidy as the bed.
- Keep kitchen counters clear: Countertops are the ultimate clutter collectors — by taking a few minutes each night to clear off kitchen counters and put things in their proper places, load dirty dishes into the dishwasher and wipe down sticky or greasy surfaes, you’ll wake up in the morning with a clutter-free kitchen that you’ll be inclined to keep that way.
- Edit your closet: Have a laundry bag handy in your closet; while choosing your wardrobe du jour each morning, if you come across an item of clothing that doesn’t work for you anymore, put in the bag, and donate its contents to Goodwill.
- Minimize: Drawers that are stuffed until ready to burst, cabinets containing so much stuff you can barely close doors, shelves piled with knick-knacks — this must be stopped! Pick a drawer, cupboard, closet or whatever and make it a mini-project. Get rid of what you don’t need and organize what you do. Most importantly: see each task through to its conclusion. A junk drawer that’s only half-cleaned out will almost certainly fill up with more junk in no time.
- Your oven is for cooking: If you have stuff stashed in there, remove it immediately and never, ever stash anything in there again. Not only is it a terrible habit, it’s also a fire hazard if you forget there’s a pile of mail in the oven and then turn it on.
- Do laundry start-to-finish: If you place a load of laundry in the washing machine, see it through. Don’t leave wet laundry in the washer for a day or two (gross!), or let clean clothes sit in a pile to be folded when you get around to it. Instead, do one load at a time, dry, fold and put away in the proper places. Repeat.
- If you don’t love it, lose it: William Morris, architect of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century, said it best: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Try this experiment: pick up an object in your home and ask yourself two questions: Is this useful? Do I love it? If you can’t truthfully answer yes, then what are you doing hanging onto useless junk that means nothing to you?