The Difference Between Mess and Clutter

Photo by Kara Eads on Unsplash

Whether our homes are cluttered or messy, it an make us feel like we are out of control.  It can make us feel like we don’t have our shi*t together and that we are lazy butts.  Surprise, you’re not the only one that has felt this way.  I can safely say that we ALL have been or are in the same boat.  We are, afterall, normal people with busy lives.

In my last post, I talked about clutter and mess.  I have a distaste for both and I might have used the two terms synonymously.  I shouldn’t have because there is a difference between the two terms.  Actually there are quite a few differences.

Why would knowing the difference between mess and clutter even matter?  Because, there are different yet fairly simple solutions if these are issues to you.  Before we get to that, you need to know what category your space falls into: Messy or Cluttered (or maybe both)

Clutter makes us slaves.  Today’s mess reduces the freedom of tomorrow

– Henri-Frederic Amiel

Mess Clutter
Occurs naturally and is a sign that your space is well lived in Unused excess things that take up space
Temporary and relatively easy to tidy  Long-term/Permanent and not relatively easy to tidy and may even be difficult to get rid of
Usually items that are used often or in the process of being used Usually items that are rarely used/needed/cared for
For the most part, does not get ignored (once ignored, the mess can easily become clutter) Is easily ignored
Can bring joy and creativity Drains energy and blocks creativity
It’s easy to get out of hand but easy to put things away – can’t forget the mess that’s right in front of our eyes Dust collectors that are usually stored away in boxes or the back of a cupboard – easily forgotten

If you didn’t really know the difference before, I hope this table has cleared a few things up.

My Mess, My Clutter

When I mention that I want to purge my house, I am physically getting rid of house stuff (donating, trading, trashing, recycling).  While I am doing so, I am cleaning the mess around me as well.  Tidying up and decluttering go hand in hand for me.  Seeing mess and clutter can really stress me out.  When I’m visiting a friends house, many times I will find myself tidying..  It’s like that episode of Full House where Danny goes over to his dates house and starts to clean while she is in the washroom.  For me, it makes me feel so good to tidy but I’m sure it just embarrasses people to know that someone thinks their house is messy and or cluttered.  I’m sorry.  Being the minimalist wannabe that I am, mess looks like clutter and clutter looks likes mess.

If your house is messy or cluttered, don’t beat yourself up and don’t make me make you feel bad.  There are so many distractions throughout the day that sometimes tidying up and  organizing is the last thing on our minds.  

Now What?

Now that you know the difference between messy and cluttered (or maybe it’s a bit of both), you can now distinguish what your space is and what it needs.  Knowing the difference will help you decide how to deal with your space.

You don’t have to do anything right at this instant.  For now you can acknowledge your space and identify the problem.  Envision how you want your space to look like and how you want to feel in it. Picture your dream space.  Look around and see where you’d like to start and a plan of attack!

If you’re space is messy, you just need to tidy up and be okay with the mess that will inevitably show up out of nowhere.  Apparently, having organized spaces and having a specific place for things can really help with keeping things tidy…or so I’ve heard.  If this is something you feel is necessary in your life and are stressed to start, perhaps hiring a professional organizer is the answer.  If it’s not in your budget, try to develop easy and quick habits that will help you with the mess.

If your place is cluttered, you need to find some time to go through things.  Not everyone has the time to do this but, you don’t have to go all in at once.  Start small, like one shelf in the linen closet.  When you’re ready, move on to the next.  Eventually you will notice a difference and you’ll feel this fire in you that you’ve accomplished something and will want to move on to your wardrobe!

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Hey there, I'm Cristine (aka Nomadgirlfriend). I want to quit my job so I can travel more. I just need to figure out the digital world so I can start making money to feed my wanderlust with my digital nomad partner. I welcome you to join my on this journey of self discovery and new adventures!

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