When we think of clutter, we often link it back to the excess of things in our fixed environment, whether it’s our home, business or office. And even our stationary environments present the challenge of not only clearing surfaces but also having the presence of mind to address what we keep in storage.
But after decluttering our storage, there’s still persistent clutter that exists in different environments. I like to call this “clutter on the go”.
In this post, I’m going to share two fundamental examples of clutter on the go and the common triggers for how we develop clutter in these areas.
Car boot clutter.
How annoying is it when you urgently need the space in your car boot for something but don’t have access because it’s filled to the brim with stuff you haven’t dealt with?
Your boot is, of course, a form of storage, but it’s more dynamic than let’s say your dressing table. Usually, you dedicate a home for items to live in your dressing table. However, with your boot, there’s constantly things going in and out depending on where you’re going.
Here are some common triggers that have led us to accumulate clutter in our boot.
Our umbrellas have spent their fair share of time living in our car boot over the years. The decision to take an umbrella on the road is in anticipation of rainy weather. However, once it’s used, we found that it would live in the backseat of the car, and eventually get moved to the boot.
It all happens unconsciously, which is very sneaky. I think the other justification for having umbrella’s in the car is the “what if” scenario. Now, this might be more relevant if you live in a city where it rains a lot — in fact having an umbrella in the car could very well be essential. But even then, I would challenge that idea—as having a dedicated home for your umbrella in your house would remove the need to leave it in your car boot.
Reusable bags and jars for shopping.
Much like umbrella’s, bags and jars fall into the “what if” scenario, which drives a lot of the reasons for us to keep things that are not essential. This is further amplified with bags. As much as we’re minimalists, we’re also very committed to reducing our waste. So the thought of spontaneously needing to buy something where we needed our bags, but didn’t have access to them is terrifying.
But if you’re not careful, what happens is that the bags find a new home in your car boot for the “just in case” moments thus producing more car boot clutter.
Again this is mitigated by having a dedicated home for your bags and jars inside of your house.
Planning what you need should also reduce your spontaneous shopping moments. And even if you do need to buy something randomly, it’s rarely many items—so you could always carry these items without a bag.
Wait. What? Yes, you heard me correctly. Another massive trigger for boot clutter is house clutter.
As a minimalist, you’re always deciding what is essential and non-essential which leads to discarding things. But where do these things go? It could be a second-hand store, the tip, friends, family, shelters etc. All these destinations require the items to be transported.
But in an effort to remove clutter from your home as quickly as possible, we use car boot as temporary storage. So the house gets cleared, but your boot then becomes cluttered. This is not a problem if you deal with your car boot clutter with the same urgency as your house clutter.
If we’re honest with ourselves, this rarely happens. Your car boot becomes a dumping ground of the things you need to get rid of. Then life gets in the way of clearing the stuff out of the boot.
So how do we get around this? Planning. Plan for the extra time needed to distribute your clutter. The job isn’t done until your clutter gets to its new home—which is not your car boot.
Yes, tennis rackets and basketballs have been known to hang out in our car boot. This is not so much the case now, as we’re not actively playing sports. But when we were, equipment became a cause of running out of space in our boot.
Reflecting on our resistance to taking equipment out of the car came down to a little bit of procrastination. “Oh I’m too tired, so I’ll get it later.” or “I’m going to be playing again tomorrow, so I may as well leave it in there”.
I think something that would’ve removed another barrier for sports equipment was to have a dedicated sports bag to hold all these rackets and balls. Then, of course, having a dedicated spot in the house for the sports bags. Which brings me to the next type of “on the clutter.”
Much like a car boot, a bag is another form of mobile storage. When I talk about bags I’m referring to; handbags, backpacks, purses, wallets, tote’s, satchel’s, duffel’s and many more styles I’ve missed.
They’re all ultimate traps for aspiring and experienced minimalists alike.
Bags get thrown around in your life. They’re with you at work, school, cars, rooms, clubs, gyms you name it. With such a dynamic responsibility, we use bags as a dumping ground for things we may or may not need at the moment.
For example in my wallet, you’ll find my bank cards, drivers licence, library card, Medicare card. These items make up the foundation of my wallet. Yet, if I’m a little careless, a few months would reveal multiple coffee loyalty cards (I’m a sucker), receipts from purchases, and loose change. This stuff sneaks up on you.
Perhaps the most challenging thing to decide with bags is what possessions live in your bag versus those items that may join your bag team for an outing but have a dedicated home elsewhere.
For example, do you need to keep a pen with you in your backpack or handbag at all times, or should your pen live with the rest of your stationery in your home office?
It sounds minutiae, but it’s essential to consider every detail when it comes to minimalist living. Because if you don’t, you’ll end up with clutter on the go and you won’t even know how you got there.
So that’s what I’d say for bags. Determine what lives in your bag and find a home for your other things that you may or may not take with you on the road.
Do you have clutter on the go?
You’ve dealt with clutter on your surfaces, and clutter in storage, but have you taken the next step to apply the same level of intentionality to your car and bags?
I know I haven’t been consistent with maintaining a clutter-free environment on the go. But I also see the cost of not being able to use space in my car when I need it or getting frustrated with trying to find my phone charging cable which I misplaced in my backpack.
Clutter in the context of these environments can go overlooked, and I hope this post has brought it to the front of your mind.
I’d love to hear about your experiences of managing clutter on the go. Share your stories in the comments below.
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