Listen to this post!
A cluttered home can start to feel like an unfixable problem after a while.
When you go through your house, decluttering over and over again, and you feel like you end up right back where you started, it’s SO frustrating. And really, you can declutter every day of your life, but if you don’t find a way to stop clutter before it starts, it’s just going to come right on back in a hurry.
If you feel like you’re STILL drowning in clutter even after spending hours going through things, it’s probably time to look at the behaviors that are causing the clutter. This is tough because it requires some actual behavior change.
It’s so much easier, though, to keep clutter from accumulating than to deal with it after you’re drowning in it.
How to Stop Clutter Before it Starts
Let’s start with the hardest one first: mindful purchasing. It is so hard to stop and pay attention to what you’re doing when you just don’t think about it.
Clutter easily accumulates when you don’t stop to think about each purchase you make. If you’re just putting things in your cart and checking out without a second thought, it’s time to become more mindful.
I try to take a minute to look through my purchases before I head to the checkout, whether it’s clothes, toys, food, or gifts. In that minute, I often find a few items that I don’t really need and can put back.
This is true, by the way, of your digital shopping carts too. It is often even easier to buy things you don’t need online because doing so is just that, easy. You don’t need to get in the car and walk around the store, you can shop from the couch and because you can’t see a physical cart it’s all far less ‘real’. Until those ten boxes from Amazon arrive…
Think First with Hand-Me-Downs
It’s often a huge blessing to have people that can give you their hand-me-downs. There is many a first home that has been stocked almost entirely using them, and when you are a new graduate without much money, they are indeed often a wonderful thing.
The problem is that hand-me-downs often aren’t what you would have picked yourself. They can fill in some gaps of what you need – as in the kind of situation referenced above – but they aren’t usually quite perfect for your situation. This can lead to having a lot of extra stuff.
A solution is think twice before you accept hand-me-downs. Or at least, look everything over very quickly and give back what won’t work for you.
The person offering the hand-me-downs is likely just trying to help you out and won’t be offended if you don’t need what they have. This can save you a lot of clutter!
Have a Year-Round Decluttering Routine
Putting in place a basic, year-round decluttering routine can help keep clutter at bay.
No matter how careful you are about your purchases, you’ll still need to keep up with clutter because you and your family will eventually wear out or outgrow things.
Having special systems in place will eliminate clutter before it starts (as long as you actually enforce the systems!). Here are a few ideas:
One in, One out: This works especially well for clothing. Don’t keep your old underwear hanging around after you buy new underwear! If something new comes in, something old has to go out.
Open your mail by the trash as soon as you pick it up: This way, only the important papers make it into the house.
Pay your bills right away: Taking care of bills or other paperwork as soon as you can goes a long way in keeping piles from forming. Better still, sign up for paperless billing whenever and wherever possible, to put an end to paper bills altogether. Doing that can also save you money and is very eco-friendly, two more reasons to make the switch.
If you are afraid you will miss payments without the physical bill to remind you install a bill organization app like one of these on your phone and have it remind you as often, and whenever is appropriate, as the bills come due.
Don’t Shop for Fun
When shopping is a hobby, you make it a lot harder on yourself to stick to the “mindful purchasing” idea and follow the steps needed to solve your ‘how to stop clutter’ problem.
It’s hard to buy things if you don’t go to the store! It’s very possible to buy all kinds of things when you wander around the mall for something to do. So try to only shop when you need to.
Shopping for fun usually leads to clutter with clearance items that you can’t un-see and the deal of the century on five scented candles.
The same is true of Amazon and other online shopping portals. No matter how many emails they send you about their latest deals don’t go to these sites unless you actually NEED something, as it’s even easier to be tempted by those ‘one time only’ deals online.
Get Stuff Out ASAP
Donate or sell things as soon as possible once you have decluttered them, otherwise they might not actually leave your house. Plus, you’ll miss out on the fabulous feeling of a less full and less cluttered house if the things don’t actually leave.
The last way to stop clutter before it starts it to keep your eyes open for it. Really notice the things in your house. This is a lot easier once you’ve done some serious decluttering because you’ll see when something is added or is out of place.
Don’t just add a recent magazine to your magazine pile. Get rid of the pile and keep the one or two you haven’t read yet.
If you get dressed in the morning and then change out of your shirt in an hour because it just isn’t fitting right, don’t put it back in the closet, think about if you need to keep it anymore.
Don’t put the craft paint back with your craft supplies if it’s all lumpy and gross. Throw it out!
You get the idea. By keeping your eyes open for “future clutter”, you stay on top of things so that it doesn’t get out of hand and overwhelming.
It can be hard to switch from decluttering over and over to not letting the clutter accumulate in the first place by solving your how to stop clutter issues. It takes some serious shifts in your mindset and habits to become more mindful or your spending, systems, and the items around you.
Furthermore, it’s much easier to stay on top of clutter than to be in a constant decluttering phase. Plus, you avoid the major feelings of overwhelm.
Need help to get that big, initial decluttering project done? Contact us today to book an appointment. We will help with the hard work and leave you a blueprint for maintaining a clutter free life once we’re done, tailored especially for you.