If I didn’t know better, I would swear that clutter multiplies on its own. This is especially true with paper clutter. Not only does it multiply, but it then migrates to my dining room table. Staying clutter free is not easy.
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The truth is that little by little clutter creeps back into our homes without our even being aware of it or realizing that it’s happening. We need to be mindful and intentional in order to avoid the ever dreaded clutter creep and stay clutter-free.
Over the years I have come up with some very practical tips that I use to help avoid clutter creep. But here is the thing, these tips will only work for you if you make them a habit. You cannot implement these tips every once in awhile and expect to keep stay clutter free.
The best way to make a habit stick is to start small and be consistent. Pick one or two tips to focus on. After they are a part of your regular daily routine, you’ll want to add one or two additional tips.
To get started, here are seven of my favorite tips to successfully stay clutter free.
1. Create a Daily Routine
Since creating a habit is essential to staying clutter free, the first, and the foundational tip to put into practice is to establish a regular routine of daily decluttering small items. If something is broken, stained, or ripped get rid of it immediately.
Next, before you sit down to relax in the evening, have a routine of going through the main parts of the house and returning everything to its proper place. Clutter creeps in and multiplies when things are out of place.
By developing a regular routine of taking care of clutter immediately, you will be on your way to staying clutter-free.
Everything you have in your home should have an assigned place. By assigning everything to a specific place you will make tip number 1 much easier to implement. Because everything has a place, it will be simple to return items to their proper home.
If you find that you have items that you simply don’t have room for, make room by getting rid of something else. If you have nothing you can get rid of, maybe you really don’t need the item.
A great question to ask yourself before you buy anything is, “where will I store this item?” Knowing you have no place to store the item is a strong motivator not to purchase the item in the first place. By not purchasing items you have no place to store, you will avoid clutter creep and learn to stay clutter free.
3. One in One Out Rule
Another strong motivator to avoid purchasing unnecessary items is to start a hard and fast one in one out rule.
Essentially, the one in one out rule provides that for every purchase you make, you must get rid of something you already have that is in the same category as the new purchase.
So if you buy a new kitchen tool, you get rid of an old kitchen tool. A new item of clothing means getting rid of an old item of clothing. Applying this rule to all of your purchases makes it much easier to stay clutter free.
With the one in one out rule, if you are tempted to buy something on impulse or just because you think it is cute, you are going to reconsider your purchase. When we know we have to get rid of something we already own we only buy those things we really can use.
The one in one out rule has really helped me avoid bringing things into my home that turn into clutter.
4. Stop Entertainment Shopping
I honestly had no idea how much I did this until I stopped doing it. When I first began to be purposeful in simplifying my life, if I had spare time or was bored my first thought would be to go shopping.
I would find myself with extra time and maybe I would be running low on shampoo so I’d make a trip to Target just because. Of course, once you are in Target it is so easy to leave the store with several impulse purchases and sometimes even forgetting the shampoo.
If I found some great deal on clearance, there would be a rush from the purchase. It didn’t matter if I needed the item or if it was something I would never have purchased at full price. All I thought about was the bargain I was getting.
Do you relate to this? If so, you need to find something else to fill your extra time with if you want to be clutter free.
There are many things you can do to fill your time besides shopping. I started hiking much more. You can start an exercise routine, read more, take up knitting or painting. You can even do what I did and start a blog.
To avoid clutter creep in your home, resolve to give up shopping as a form of entertainment. This was a major step for me in staying clutter-free.
5. Keep Flat Surfaces Clear
Countertops, tables and really any flat surfaces in your home, can act as a magnet for clutter. You place one bill, one magazine or a single piece of paper on the dining room table and it attracts more items to join it. It’s as if the paper magically multiplies.
The only way to avoid clutter creep on your flat surfaces is to keep them clear. Avoid keeping appliances and other unnecessary items on your counters. Limit knickknacks and decorative items on your large flat surfaces.
By keeping these surfaces clear you will be able to avoid clutter creep and be on your way to staying clutter-free.
6. Paper Clutter
Tip number 5, keeping flat surfaces clear, is nearly impossible if you have a ton of paper clutter coming in. The truth is, we all have way more paper coming into our homes then we would like. Paper comes in from your kid’s school, from work, it’s delivered to our mailboxes daily.
Creating a habit of dealing with paper clutter is probably one of the most important habits when it comes to avoiding clutter creep.
First, designate a spot for all paper to go. I have an office basket that all paper goes into that I don’t have the time to deal with then and there. I also have a cute decorative box that all junk mail and recyclable paper immediately goes into. When the box is full, I take it and dump the whole thing in the recycle bin.
I try to shred sensitive items immediately, or at a minimum, I place them on top of the shredder until I can get to them.
Every week I have a set time to file any important papers that I need to keep or scan. Scanning receipts and other documents you should keep, but don’t necessarily need the hard copy of, really helps avoid paper clutter.
A scanner is a great investment, one that I highly recommend making if you want to stay clutter free.
7. Design Against Clutter
Do not fill your home with tons of organizational and storage tools. When you do this, you are making room for clutter. To avoid clutter creep you do not need to organize you need to minimize.
When you decide to bring something new into your home, make sure it adds value to your life. In addition, make sure the new item fits into your current home setup. Increasing your storage options will only increase your clutter.
To stay clutter free design your home against clutter.
Stopping clutter from multiplying in your home requires you to be intentional. Make these simple seven rules a regular habit and you will stay clutter free.
What about you, do you have any tips to stay clutter free or keep clutter from creeping back into your home? Share in the comments.
As always, live simply, live intentionally and make each day your Favorite day!