6 Essential Zen-like Hacks Guaranteed to Declutter Your Preps

by Todd Walker

I’m adding a new law to Newton’s Laws of Motion. A Nobel Prize in the Physics of Prepping should be coming my way soon!

Here’s a summary of my new law…

The Law of Horizontal Surfaces: All objects in motion tend to stay in motion until they find a horizontal surface to rest upon.


Newton’s law of universal gravitation states that everything with mass in the universe is attracted to everything else that has mass in the universe (paraphrasing here).

Apply this law to my Law of Horizontal Surfaces for yourself. I think you’ll confirm my findings.

Here’s an experiment you can do at home, work, or anywhere horizontal surfaces are found. Add people to the environment and note how quickly the non-cluttered horizontal surface attracts objects – of all shapes and sizes. Very un-Zen. Especially when you need to find a tool or, in some cases, your infant you put down “somewhere.”

Preppers are known to collect stuff. And everything has a use…someday. But if you can’t put your hands on what you need, when you need it, it won’t be as useful as you once thought.

It’s called spring cleaning. Some would call it practicing Zen habits. Cleaning the clutter. Simplifying.

This is my last day of Spring break. I can’t wait to get back to school to rest up. Dirt Road Girl and I uncluttered every horizontal surface in our home and my shop. Even vertical surfaces, closets, cupboards, and storage shelves are organized.

Here’s six tips to help you combat the Law of Horizontal Surfaces and live clutter free

A.) Chunk it. Your time, that is. If you don’t have a large block of time, and depending on badly the Law of Horizontal Surfaces has taken over, take it one step at a time. Defy the Law by focusing on one area or zone in your living or work space. This lessens the chance of you getting overwhelmed and quitting.

B.) Chuck it. Your non-essential stuff, that is. Just let it go. Especially the stuff hidden in your junk drawer. We all have those. We hauled a couple of loads of this stuff to a local charity this week. Things I didn’t think I could part with have now found a new horizontal surface to occupy…just not in our space. I’ve noticed that my load is lightened physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually somehow. Peace is a good thing.

Here’s one strategy for clearing a junk drawer. Dump the contents into a box, label it, and then put it in hiding for a month or two. If you don’t need that useful junk in the box during that time, chuck it.

C.) Handle it once. Don’t just wipe all the accumulated clutter in a box and go dump it in the spare bedroom closet. You’re planning on organizing your that closet too, right? Once you put your hands on the objects of clutter, move it once. Find a permanent home for the stuff.

DRG says I’m a borderline hoarder. Not true. I might be able to use that small stripe of chicken wire one day. But the thing about keeping it is that it sits on the limited horizontal space in my shop and attracts more objects.

D.) Pick your battles. The best strategy we’ve found is to pick an area that really grates on our nerves. The spot that makes our shoulders knot up and blood pressure spike. Once you get this place cleaned and organized, let your momentum take you to the next room or counter top.

At one point last week, we realized we needed to tackle my shop. We moved shelving from the house to simplify our living space. I chunked some old shelving in my shop and added the larger shelves from the living room. This allowed for more useful horizontal space in my shop for long-term storage items. A win-win-win for house, shop, and preps.

E.) Make it a habit. Once you’ve got a your space clutter free, keep it that way. Stand back and feel the peace in your de-cluttered space.

But we all tend to backslide into clutter. The Law of Horizontal Surfaces is fierce and doesn’t care. Handle objects once and put them back in their space. When my kids were little, I’d take toys left lying around the house and toss them in a box in the garage. They couldn’t rescue their toys from the box prison for a full week. If they forgot about the toy, it usually got tossed or given away.

F.) Quit your squawking. Stop whining and organize your prepping items. You’ll notice a huge difference in the amount of stuff that becomes useful when it’s de-cluttered.

For example, there’s an old duffel bag in my shop packed with miscellaneous prepping stuff – B.O.B. items, camping supplies, tools, rope, etc. Not anymore. I dumped it on the floor and went through it. I found stuff I’d forgotten I had. It was like Christmas in April.

Get some boxes or bins and separate the pile into categories. Now I can walk to a shelf and find the container of jute twine and other cordage when I need it. Have a labeled container for every category of useful stuff. The rest, chunk it.

In our digital world, our computers and phones are not exempt from the Law of Horizontal Surfaces. You can’t find that excellent article on building community. You filed it under something. But what? Apply these same tips to simplify your digital world.

Checking and responding to email, messages, social media feeds, and comments can be a black hole in your time. Getting organized to handle the clutter will free up your time and get your life simplified. There’s an app for that, right?

Horizontal surfaces are essential. They fight the other immutable law, the law of gravity. There in lies the problem… the pesky Law of Horizontal Surfaces. It takes a little time and effort on your part, but it’s possible to defy this law. And remember, momentum is you best friend.

Keep doing and de-cluttering the stuff!

What’s your best practices for organizing and de-cluttering? Please share them in the comments section.

If this was helpful to you, please share it with your friends. 

Categories: Preparedness | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “6 Essential Zen-like Hacks Guaranteed to Declutter Your Preps

  1. Mari

    …and then there is the other side of the coin. I have done these clean-it-out-and-clean-it-up cycles. I am living proof that in the moment of cleaning you get very anxious to see the final results, so you get rid of stuff that later you kick yourself over. How much I have discarded, only to have to go out and purchase it again or end up with something inferior to what I had on hand, but purged. So now I am reluctant to let so much go. I learn lessons the hard way and the costly way. At the end of the day, be really, really sure that each item purged is done for the right reason – and just to see a clean room is not sufficient reason to let some items go. Just saying…..


    • Mari, you’re right on some level. I guess what we were aiming for is to de-clutter your living space and organize your prepping items so you can experience some level of peace and still be able to put your hands on needed stuff.

      I’ve done the same thing in the past. Deciding what’s essential for now and possible future use is a balancing act for sure.

      Thanks for your input.


  2. Judi

    *Starting in one corner of a room, work clockwise around the room. Have a trash bag, a “get rid of box”, and a container for things to put away in another room/area.
    *Take everything out of the closet. Only put back what you really want to keep/will use. Box up the rest. Leave clothes on hangers for your yard sale, and have a rack ready.
    *Have a yard sale near the first of the month when people get paid. You can cash in on your stuff. Don’t label and tag. Put things neatly on racks and tables, or on floor throw, organized with a price per item on each rack, table, etc. If it doesn’t sell, move it to a cheaper table. Have and advertise a “free” area of items. Have the kids thin out their “stuff, and help run the sale. They pocket the money as each of their things sell. At the end of the sale, box up and donate the left-overs.
    *Clean out a drawer or shelf while talking on the phone, or while
    doing kitchen clean-up.
    *Sort/organize things while watching TV.
    *Box up the stuff everyone leaves lying around including shoes, after fair warning with a deadline, put it in garage, and they have to go get it if/when want it.
    I am a collector. I gave myself a rule: if you can’t put it to use, don’t buy it. I use my antique and collectible things all of the time. I hang them where they will be used, and they decorate as well as serve a purpose.
    Thanks for a useful and interesting blog!


    • 🙂 This ain’t your first rodeo of de-cluttering now is it Judi? Great additions on the post!

      I’ve got old antique hand tools hanging on one wall. Like you, they are functional and easy to find when needed. Makes a great conversation starter as well.

      Thanks for adding value here!


  3. Pingback: 6 Essential Zen-like Hacks Guaranteed to Declutter Your Preps | thesurvivalplaceblog

  4. Pingback: A DiY Farmhouse Table, DRG’s Grocery Bag, and Chair Planter | Survival Sherpa

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