The Ripple Effect with Decluttering

Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by aussiegall

You’ve probably heard about the “ripple effect”, where a single event causes a chain reaction of things. Whether it is a butterfly changing the weather pattern, or individual spending patterns changing the spending patterns of those business they patronize, a single small event can set off events of unforeseen dimensions.

We can harness this effect for our own good, though, by applying them to simplification and decluttering.

Starting A Ripple Isn’t Bad

When we hear about the ripple effect, it is generally as the result of some horrific event. The news, negative enough as it is, doesn’t show the positives a ripple can have. The only example I can think of in the media is the movie Pay It Forward, where one boy’s kindness rippled out through his community.

We can turn the ripple to our own use in a positive way. Here is how:

Start Small

Ripples can start small. Just as it doesn’t take a boulder thrown into a pond to make waves, a small pebble will do the same thing.

Example: you decide you need to declutter, but the job is overwhelming. Declutter a spot that you see all the time, such as your kitchen table or your nightstand.

Do A Bit More

Once you get started, finish your tiny spot and step back. Take a look at the decluttered space, and the space right around it. From there, you can see the next step.

This is the ripple spreading. The next space, not very big, is there for you to declutter. It might be a drawer in the kitchen. Or perhaps even your bed itself.

Don’t Swamp The Boat

The danger with this idea is that you can take the ripples too far. The goal is not a marathon session to overwhelm you, but to get you started with small pieces of decluttering that you can build on.

Resist the urge to pull everything out of your drawers at once, or to decide to completely declutter your entire kitchen in one go.

Start small with decluttering one area, and watch the effect ripple outward! Have you ever tried this? Share your results below.

Photo by aussiegall



  1. jay says

    Start decluttering with “personal” areas such as bedside table or bedroom bureau top or bathroom vanity. Then you will notice the ripple effect to non-personal areas.

    • LJ Earnest says

      I agree. It is more of a difference if it is your mess, and it’s normally in your face. :)