You Decluttered... Now What?
Try these 13 tips to stay clutter-free.
Posted in , Feb 25, 2019
Decluttering one’s home and life is a lot like weight loss. It’s almost easier to accomplish the initial feat than to maintain it. Here are some tried-and-true strategies that have helped me stay clutter-free. I hope you find them to be beneficial as well.
- Designate a place for everything. If you find yourself just putting things away, but not in a certain location, you’ll likely be in the same clutter-chaos boat before long. Pick a spot and make it a point to stick to it.
- Make a game of it. I like to challenge myself to put ten things in their proper places as quickly as possible. This mind game often gets the momentum started and I continue decluttering from there. Sometimes, I set a timer and challenge myself to declutter my bedroom for ten minutes. Again, this gets me in the groove and often leads to 20 or 30 minutes, or more. These strategies keep me purging and donating or giving away items.
- When you’ve accomplished your initial decluttering, snap a picture. Then post it where you can see it. It will help you maintain your gain.
- Stop clutter before it enters your home. Resist the temptation to impulse buy. Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Do I really love this? Is it truly useful for my needs?
- If you do paperwork in several locations within your home, put your paperwork on wheels. I installed wheels on a square, two-sided wicker basket. This keeps me from having the same supplies in several places which equals more clutter. I’ve found it also helps greatly to be as paper-free as possible. I toss unneeded mail before it enters the house, and if a document is available on-line, I shred the paper version.
- Help your friends and family stay decluttered. Give experiences or consumable gifts, such as favorite foods and flowers or a lovely plant instead of an object you’re not sure they'll like. When I gave my sister-in-law the “gift” of giving an incarcerated man’s family a week’s groceries, she was absolutely thrilled. More so than with any past present I’d wrapped to perfection.
- Be especially cautious when you experience a major life event, such as a death of a dear one. A friend told me: “My mother’s been gone a decade and I’m still holding onto her stuff. With every passing year, it gets harder to know what to do with it.” I could relate, as I reacted similarly when my own mother passed away. Finally, I chose six items to keep and cherish and gave the rest away to people I knew would benefit from them.
- Resist the urge to move clutter from one point to another. I think we’ve all picked up a pile of miscellaneous stuff on the coffee table and simply transferred it to a clear space in a spare bedroom. This doesn’t solve anything, of course. It only delays the inevitable.
- Designate a zip-lock bag for corralling receipts. That way, when you need to return something, you won’t spend valuable time looking for it.
- If space is at a premium, avoid purchasing large quantities of items, such as paper goods and cleaning products. Along those lines, I discovered I tended to be wasteful when I had an excess of those products.
- Never leave a room empty-handed. This makes decluttering a way of life.
- Assign each family member a “Declutter It” zone. Someone in the household could take charge of the garage, while another clears out the kitchen. And while you’re doing so, be sure you’ve labeled shelves, bins and drawers, so everyone knows where everything goes.
- When you bring something in, take something out. My friend Tina Flora, who owns an upscale consignment shop, told me this story: “I took a vase I just loved home from the shop,” she said. “But when I got it home, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to give up in its place.” Know what she did? She promptly returned the beloved vase back to her shop. Now that’s staying decluttered at its finest!
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