Pathways in Your Home

I used to block pathways in my home.

It wasn’t a consciously decided intention, it was an accidental reoccurrence.

A continuous dropping of loads of crap right inside my front door, by the entrance to the living room, at the base of the stairs, on the stairs…. ahem, at the top of the stairs.

The places I needed to walk were quick to fill, and I couldn’t understand why.

I tripped over pathway clutter, I kicked it, sometimes I stepped on it.

But why did I do it? I thought and thought and thought and thought and I couldn’t come up with a reason. It just sort of happened.

After carefully thinking about it, I came up with several reasons why I accumulated clutter in my pathways:

-I’d be too busy to put something away.

-My arms were too full and I’d put something down.

-I was running from a to b and didn’t have time to properly put it away.


Then at some point I really got into Feng Shui and I randomly read a gazillion books on it. I didn’t understand much of it, but I thought maybe Feng Shui could help me get control over my clutter. In some ways it did, and one of those ways is in a concept I picked up in Feng Shui.

The concept is:

-If you block the pathways in your home, you block the pathways of your life as well.

-If you unblock the pathways in your home you unblock the pathways of your life as well.

I really grokked with that simple concept. It fit the way my mind works, and I suddenly realized that if I looked at my home in terms of how it represented my life, that it would be really simple to realign my space into something I love.

Here’s what I did, and if it feels right for you, you’re welcome to try it too:

1) I made a conscious decision to stop blocking the pathways in my home.

2) I determined each area I felt was a walking thoroughfare in my home.

3) I deemed each of them off limits for anything.

4) I removed not just clutter from the areas, but also any other object I may have previously believed necessary.

5) I vowed to start keeping open pathways. This one decision made a huge difference on my journey to a minimalist life.



the minimalist packrat clutter bootcamp


45 Responses to “Pathways in Your Home”

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  1. Hey everyone. How funny, I didn’t mean to hit the publish button on this one. I figure it’s all right as is, but it was a straight first draft. RSS and Email readers, you may notice I changed it up a wee touch from the original. A girl’s got perogative. ;)

    Hope you all enjoy the post, and happy Sunday Night to you all! You get to see Monday’s post a whole night early. :)

    p.s. I’ll probably get a picture up tomorrow morning.

  2. sonrie says:

    This is thought-provoking for me…I will never consider things on the floor or in the way in a different way now.
    sonrie recently posted..throwback #5

    • Hey Sonrie,

      Nice to see you here today. For me it was that I’d also place furniture just a little too close for comfort. At the base of my stairs I had a pedestal and the front door would always have a bag of returns or something random hanging nearby. I think it probably only applies to serious packrats. ;)

  3. I’m not one to put things on the floor, but we do have a few dumping spots, like the kitchen table and on top of the bookshelves. I often find that I’m most stressed out when those areas are cluttered. Once they are cleaned off, I feel more at peace. I’m glad I’m not the only one out there whose mood sways due to the location of items!
    Megyn @ Minimalist Mommi recently posted..Challenge du Mois: Connectivity

    • Hey Megyn,

      It’s funny how some areas can become regular dumping grounds. It’s great you’ve discovered your personal hot spots. ;)

  4. Even in my tiny motorhome I have stuff on the floor along one edge. Not blocking my movement, but certainly narrowing the path and possibly disturbing the flow of chi in the space.
    Mike | Homeless On Wheels recently posted..Exploring RV Living – Staying Connected

    • Hey Mike,

      For me I discovered all that narrowing of a path often resulted in a slow creeping of more junk. In a motorhome it’s even tougher because those paths are already narrow!

  5. pamela says:

    This is so true Tanya and a definite first step on the route ;P to decluttering.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    hugs xxx pamela
    pamela recently posted..Oh! oh! AMY…….

  6. Hi everyone,

    So it’s Monday morning! As you can see I managed to get a picture up for this post. I love this dragonfly shot. Patrick took it a month or two ago. I was amazed to actually see a dragonfly face, they’re usually so small and fast I’d never seen one before. Anyways, it’s totally off topic, but I love Patrick’s flower and bug photography. He asks permission to take a photo, and quite often the little critter will pose for him. Amazing. ;)

    I also wanted to let you all know, I’m planning on putting up the submissions page for the 2012 Minimalist Bloggers list on Wednesday. I’ll be using a lot of the guidelines you all helped me come up with last month. In the meantime, Happy Monday!

  7. K.D. says:

    Hi Tanja. That’s very interesting. I was also surprised to read it was a first draft — it is so fresh and readable! It just pulled me along. I guess I read the re-tweaked version, but anyway, I liked it!
    Back to the point of your post, thank you for that insight. You have inspired me to clear out our front door entry. It’s the drop-spot for mail, shoes, bags, etc.. It’s also the only way to get from our bedrooms and bathroom to the rest of the house, so I pass through it all the time (small bladder!). Now I understand why it makes me so crazy when it’s cluttered. I’m going to relocate our mail-drop spot and streamline this whole area.
    Thanks again.
    K.D. recently posted..Yet more gratitude

  8. K.D. says:

    Did you take that dragonfly photo? Very cool.
    K.D. recently posted..Yet more gratitude

    • Hey K.D.

      I’m lucky that this was a fairly polished and coherent first draft. It’s one of the funny things about rss, you can’t go ooops, let me take that back and rework it! ;) The only change I’ve made is deleting the last two paragraphs. They didn’t fit quite right for me. I figure with mistakes like this maybe someone out there really needs to read it exactly as it is. I still don’t quite know how it published. I hit preview and it went live! ;) Ah well, there’s nothing like the unedited version of a person’s work to get to the heart of their writing. It’s all out there for better or for worse.

      I love to hear that I’ve inspired your entryway clean-up project. That’s wonderful! An entry to a home sets the energy for the whole home, it’s funny how so many of us clutter up our entrances.

      p.s. Patrick took the dragonfly shot. He’s got more camera savvy than I do. ;)

  9. Sue Santore says:

    I never leave things on the floor in my house. BUT–in my basement den where I keep all my “stuff” I have things on the floor around the edges of the room, and the small room is very crowded. My desk top there is usually cluttered. I do notice that I feel better and am more inclined to stay in the room and work after I’ve spent some time straightening the room up. If calm = no clutter, then I’d better get busy keeping it neat all the time. :)
    Sue Santore recently posted..My Dulcimer Club Meeting

    • Hi Sue,

      For me it’s a definite calm=no clutter, or even the other way around, no clutter=calm. :) I love having a clearish desktop and I definitely find it helps me work better!

  10. First of all, that is an amazing photo! Wow Patrick. I’ve never seen that much detail in a dragonfly. The little guy even appears to be smirking. Amazing.

    Tanja – Feng Shui was my first walk down the decluttering road as well. I became interested in the study when I was pregnant for my oldest son about eight years ago. The thing that really stuck with me is that even though you can’t see the congestion and clutter in a basement or garage, the energy still stagnates because of it and carries over into areas of your life.

    We still have a major problem keeping the kitchen island cleared off. It seems to be a paper clutter magnet for my son’t school work and other things we need to go through but haven’t yet. Hmmm. And interestingly enough, one of Kirk’s hat’s is sitting on the island right now. But I can’t really say much, because my purse is up there too. See what I mean? A clutter disaster!
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..Last Chance to Supersize Your Savings!

    • Hey Jenny,

      I saw Mr. Dragonfly smiling too. I haven’t quite figured out if the big ovals are his eyes or the teeny, tiny things closer to the center of his forehead. Either way it’s pretty dang cool.

      The feng shui concept that’s really stuck with me the most is the concept of cords of attachment going between me and everything I own. That made me want to downsize big time! It sounds like your island is a perfect place to declare as off limits. Try it for a week (as a family) and see what happens maybe?

      • Cath says:

        Tanja and Jenny, I wholeheartedly agree about the kitchen island. That became such a hotspot for us that I (very loudly and dramatically, unfortunately) declared it off-limits for anything other than active cooking or baking projects. Or the grocery list, which I’m working on. Whenever I watch HGTV (must quit cable), and I see people shunning a home because it doesn’t have an island, I want to call into the TV screen, “You’re better off without the clutter collector!!”

        Great post, as usual. Thanks!

        • Hi Cath,

          I’ve never been graced with a kitchen island in my life, but I can see how all that wide open horizontal space would be “the great clutter dump temptation”. I used to do terrible things to my kitchen counters in my old house. Our cabin was informal and the front door led right into the kitchen. Guess what landed on my counter? Everything that came through the door!

          I do have some friends who love to cook and entertain though, and they bought a house with a gigantic island. It was so lovely for potluck parties because there was enough room for all the dishes everyone brought.

  11. Melissa says:

    Love your posts! I look forward to opening the emails I receive from you…makes my day. The photography is brilliant, as well. Thanks for the blog. :)

    • Thanks Melissa!

      I’ve been working on the once a month newsletter today, and it will most likely be going out first thing tomorrow morning. :)

  12. Great tips on an important topic, Tanja. Personally, I’ve never been bad about clogging my pathways; I’m clumsy enough without putting stumbling block in my own way. But I have been bad about setting things on counters, tables, and shelves and thinking, “I’ll put that away later.” Your list of excuses is pretty much the same as mine. I borrowed a technique from organizing my office life to help with home life: Deal with each item once. You recently talked about making piles of things to go through, things to keep, thing to… well… piles are not our friends. If we’re going to bring stuff into our home we need to find it’s proper place and put it there. Thanks!
    Allan Douglas recently posted..The Sound of Sirens

    • Hey Allan,

      I had to go look and see where I talked about making piles, it sounds uncharacteristic for me. I’m pretty vocal about not liking the three box method, and it sounds reminiscent of that. Are you referring to the minimalist take on papers post I did a few weeks ago? I mentioned having piles of paper (at one point in my life) in that post. That’s the only thing I could think of. ;)

      Regardless, dealing with each item once is a great strategy, when it’s applicable. I’ve never been much into the idea personally, I think because I took a lot of time deciding what needed to leave me life. I’d naturally handle a lot of items more than once while deciding, but then again I wasn’t very fast to declutter my stuff! I also tend to be messy, then spend time tidying up. I haven’t gotten to that blissful state of always staying picked up, I’ve just simplified the pick-up time massively by being minimalist. ;)

      p.s. Oh, I absolutely love having a home for everything though, and I’m a huge proponent for that. It helps to always know where something is supposed to go.

      • I think you were talking about collections — maybe you said boxes and I envisioned piles. Brain rot – who needs it! In any case I am opposed to the idea of stashing things somewhere to be dealt with later – unless of course there is a good reason, like if it’s a bill to be paid, but you have to wait until payday or a picture to be hung but you need to move some things around. In an office setting the idea is to get rid of the To Be Done box/tray. As you take items out of your In Box deal with them and file them in their proper place. If you don’t have the info you need to deal with it yet, then put it in a Pending box, but if you can deal with it, deal with it don’t set it aside to be done later because you’re not in the mood now. At home, same sort of thing, but not so regimented. I like to put things back where they belong when I’m dome with them. Mostly because if I don’t I may never find them again. Brain rot – who needs it1
        Allan Douglas recently posted..The Sound of Sirens

        • Allan, I think you are delightfully organized in comparison to me. When I worked in an office setting, I did have an inbox, but it was also my pending box. Sometimes it stacked up on me and other times I’d do a wild sweep out and it would stay clear for a while.

          I feel quite proud to have downsized the paperwork in my life down to one tidy file, even if I have to go in an organize that accordion file a few times a year. ;)

  13. kami says:

    Just wanted to thank you for designing a website that is mobile friendly. I can easily read it on my cell phone. Can’t explain how much us mobile readers appreciate this!

    • Hey Kami,

      I’m so glad you can view minimalist packrat easily on a cell phone. I don’t have a cell phone so I can’t check how it looks myself. I know someone mentioned a while back that comments don’t appear on their mobile, and they asked if I could get that set-up. It seems you were able to read and leave a comment on your phone. Very cool! Maybe I’ll cross that task of my eventual to-do list. ;)

  14. tammy says:

    the dragon fly just fair takes my breath away! i love them. this hot summer when i would be spraying
    water into the birdbath many times a day, they would appear from nowhere! at least 6 of them… they’d
    swoop through the spray like children playing with the hose! you’d have thought it might have damaged
    their faerie wings or something but it didn’t. they were iridescent blue. nice to get to see what their little
    faces look like! thanks patrick… an exquisite shot!
    i don’t have a problem with paths and such… but your posts are simply wonderful tanja! you’re a sane and
    lovely voice out there in “toomuchstuff” land! may it never be silent!!
    lets see… not nearly enough exclamation points in this comment i think…. here ya go… !!!!!!!!

    • You cracked me up with the exclamation points Tammy. You can always tell how I’m feeling just by counting the amount of exclamation points in a post/comment string. I sometimes vow I’ll never use one again but I always come back to the lovely overstated point!

      Patrick and I went to a festival yesterday. There was a huge lake in the center of the festival and we mosied our way on down there. It was a beautiful dragonfly extravaganza by the shoreline! We saw little, teeny tiny red ones who liked to buzz about in groups, and we also saw a large pink one. I’d never seen a pink dragonfly before. It was cool!

      And just in case you’re wondering, that second exclamation point just sort of popped out in that second paragraph. :)

  15. Willow says:

    That dragonfly actually looks a little like Goofy to me. :)

    Great post, Tanja. Ahem, I’m off to remove a couple of boxes…

    • Hi Willow,

      Like Goofy the Disney dog? How fun. ;)

      The box method works great for some people, it just didn’t work for me. If you can declutter well using the box method, then woot! Keep doing it. ;)

      p.s. I hope your ankle starts feeling better soon.

      • Willow; says:

        Actually, I literally removed two boxes! Two empty boxes. The third box is going to go out in the giveaway stuff since it’s filled with cupboard/cabinet hardware- the old hinges and knobs.

  16. Jill Foley says:

    I can’t stand to have walkways blocked….I was just talking about this with my girls yesterday. They like to come in the house, take off their shoes (which they leave wherever they happen to fall) and dump whatever might be in their hands. I was explaining to them that we just don’t do that because it makes it hard for others to walk through.

    Like some others, my problem is one of the kitchen counters (I wrote about this recently). It’s my “work area” and catch all. I dont’ mind it being a bit cluttered during the day, but hate it when I leave it that way all night and have to see it first thing in the morning. Another area that’s dumped on a lot is my laundry room. Having side loading machines means nice, flat surfaces – perfect for dumping on!

    I’m going to work on these two areas today and vow to keep them clean and clear for the month of October.
    Jill Foley recently posted..Hells Canyon Camping Trip – Highlights

  17. Lana says:

    The photo of the dragonfly is definitely perfect!!It makes me think to pursue my dreams of becoming a professional photographer…Anyway, you have a great blog here…Thanks!!
    Lana recently posted..Why the Babyphat Rushcard Is a Great Option for Many

  18. Becky says:

    I’m enjoying your blog very much, and just had to take a minute to comment on the dragonfly photo. It’s absolutely gorgeous!
    Becky recently posted..Decluttered: one project car

  19. Nola Carter says:

    It’s funny how some areas can become regular dumping grounds. We still have a major problem keeping the kitchen island cleared off. Try it for a week (as a family) and see what happens maybe?
    Nola Carter recently posted..Cancer Tattoos Tumblr

  20. Alicia says:

    I used to live in a one room apartment and it was clutter everywhere! Cleaning meant having created a path from my door to the bed. My life was in such a disarray back then and when I decided to clean everything up, my life suddenly seemed so organized. By the way, did you take that dragonfly photo? It looks amazing!

    Alicia recently posted..How To Attract Women

  21. Seth Chabat says:

    I also did this action when I went home and I couldn’t avoid with this manner. However, I am trying to change it at all since many of my family members observe it.
    Seth Chabat recently posted..Acai Berry and the French Paradox

  22. Lora Colin says:

    I want to change my pathway this year. I want to make it more beautiful so that when I went home there are no obstacles on my pathway.
    Lora Colin recently posted..Fat Burning Foods: Use it to your advantage

  23. Elizabeth Conner says:

    But I can’t really say much, because my purse is up there too. It’s funny how some areas can become regular dumping grounds.
    Elizabeth Conner recently posted..Horse Ranches in Murrieta CA

  24. Pyro System says:

    Hurrah, that’s what I was exploring for, what a data!
    present here at this weblog, thanks admin of this site.
    Pyro System recently posted..Pyro System


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