When You Can’t See The Floor

Floor covered with clutter

I saw this funny image years ago. It made me laugh then, and I think it continues to ring true:

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For a variety of reasons, stuff ends up on the floor. Items are commonly…

=> Moved out of the way (pillows, boxes, purses, briefcases)

=> Worn, taken off, and dropped (clothing, outerwear, shoes)

=> Used and abandoned (toys, projects, mugs)

=> Dropped instead of put into the trash (wrappers, tags, cups)

=> Stacked, and then toppled over (paper, books, magazines)

Regardless of the reason, and as convenient as it may seem in the moment, the floor is not a good storage area because things on the floor are…

  • Tripping hazards
  • Painful to step on
  • Often broken underfoot
  • Easily lost
  • Dangerous for small children and pets

In addition, a room can be beautifully decorated, but if the floor is covered with belongings, the space tends to look messy and unattractive.

If you’ve got a cluttered floor, here are a few “Dos” and “Don’ts” to keep in mind.

Do...Don’t...Because...
Make sure the space is safe:
- Clear a path between the bed and the door
- Pick up choking hazards
- Put a gate or barrier around small pieces if you have pets or children
- Throw away trash
Get sidetracked by wanting to make everything perfect and ending up spending too much time in one small area.Safety is the number one priority.
Decide if the space is yours to organize.

If the space isn’t yours, (and once it is “safe”), offer to help. If the offer is declined, consider closing the door.
Go into your spouse’s office or your teenager’s room and start pitching things. You will end up irritating the owner and your work will be quickly undone.
Assess if the situation is ongoing or temporary.

If the situation is temporary, either set a time limit for how long the items will remain out and/or decide what level of daily “clean up” will be acceptable until the project is completed. (e.g. Each evening the contents are put in a large box.)

If the situation is ongoing, continue the following steps to create order.
Clean up the pieces of a school project or other “work in progress” that the owner plans to return to and complete in the near future.You may move or throw away important pieces.
Sort through the items and group them by category (e.g. gaming supplies, DVDs, large toys, small toys, clothing, paperwork, etc.)Toss dissimilar items into boxes or bins.Mixing belongings flung into large containers results in items getting lost. It also creates a time-consuming future project to sort through it all.
Establish a box into which you put all objects that need to be carried back to other rooms in the house.

Leave time at the end of your session to carry this box around and put things away.
Get interrupted carrying items throughout your house each time you come across a misplaced item.You will waste time going to and fro, and are more likely to get distracted by things you see in other spaces.
Group items that belong to others in the home and put them in boxes or piles for review.Get rid of things that are not yours, unless you are the adult responsible for a child’s decision.It is not ok to get rid of other people’s stuff without their permission.
Establish storage locations for the items you want to keep in the space.

Ideally, only carpets and furniture should remain on the floor, so consider adding shelving, hooks, racks, cubbies, file boxes, and containers so that everything has a home.
Pile items on the floor or stash them in the corner.Anything stacked on the floor can be easily kicked over, knocked out of place, spilled on, lost and ruined.

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Clearing the floor can be a quick way to make a space feel fresh and inviting. What is most likely to end up on your floor?

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