In most cases, the lion’s share of our hidden mess is made up of things we don’t need. In all cases, it’s made up of things we don’t use very often. It accumulates because things don’t have a place to go and/or because our hectic schedules leave us with too little time, and when we clean up we do it as fast as we can.
Even though it’s out of sight, it isn’t really out of the way. We all have a certain amount of space to put things in the cracks and crevices of our homes. As we fill that space up with random papers, unused stands for electronic devices, gifts we didn’t want but didn’t throw away, and other debris, we use up the space we could use for things we buy or win in a raffle. (Somebody has to win those raffles.)
So what to do about it?
Setting a cleaning schedule that allows adequate time to clean spaces thoroughly is a good first step. Some people do this naturally. Their houses are immaculate. For the rest of us, the only way to ensure that we don’t shove piles of papers into the backs of desk drawers is to give ourselves extra time to clean the desk.
Bringing back the tradition of Spring Cleaning is another good solution. A once-a-year, intense housecleaning provides the opportunity to excavate those overloaded drawers, boxes, and spaces. The items that might conceivably be needed or wanted some time in the distant future can be moved to a more appropriate, permanent storage area. The rest of the junk (and likely the vast majority) can be tossed out, given away (as unwanted gifts!) or donated to charity.
A third way to keep the hidden mess from building up is to screen what comes into the house. Most of what ends up in hidden cracks was never really wanted in the first place, and things like junk mail, spare electronics parts, and the phone book we never use anymore never need to make it into the mix.