“If I put the bills away, I’ll never pay them on time.”
Solution: Many clutterers have gotten into the habit of organizing their world visually and spatially, says Randy Frost. They’re afraid that if they put stuff away, they won’t remember it, because they won’t see it. “But it’s a perception of order,” he says, “not real order.” You may initially recall that the electric bill is next to the potted plant on the kitchen counter, but it will soon be buried by other items you need to have in plain sight, too, like invitations and permission slips.
Even hard-core clutterers can train themselves to complete tasks without obvious visual cues, says Frost. For starters, if you’re used to leaving things in piles, designate a logical home for every object. Set up automatic e-mail reminders to help you remember to pay bills. In addition, if you feel as if out of sight is out of mind, make transparency your friend. Take items destined for closets, the garage, or the basement and store them in clear plastic bins so you can always see what’s there.