How To Stay Ahead of The Clutter

Clutter is something that haunts me constantly. I am obsessed with getting organizers, putting up hooks, and sticky noting things to keep them straight. I long for those Pinterest perfect pictures of neat desks and perfectly stacked bookshelves. But it always just seem right out of my reach. Even when I spend entire afternoons rearranging my bedside table, the next morning it’s still covered random crap that I swear was created from nothing. So how can I beat this monster?

Well I think the trick is to get ahead of the curve. Stop the clutter before it even gets into your house. Stop it before it even is scanned at the cashier. So how are some ways that we can kill the clutter in our lives?

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Stop buying useless souvenirs

The shot glass. A gaudy trucker hate. Baggy shapeless shirts you will literally never wear again. Stop buying these useless items! I know that usually they are the cheapest, have the most options, and might even have your name on them. But realistically? They are going to go into the back of your closet, or into a box in your basement, and just be another annoying thing to tidy come spring time. But I understand you want to have something to remember the places you travel by. So make a promise to yourself that if you’re ever buying souvenirs follow a couple simple rules. Only buy things with concrete purposes. Don’t buy knick knacks or ornaments just because they’re a replica of a landmark you saw. You don’t need another doodad on the mantle cluttering it up. Try buying a towel, or some socks. You can’t have too many socks right? There are plenty of functional options.  If you don’t need anything new or particular, a good option would be fridge magnets. They just stick to your fridge and that’s where they live. The trick is to be realistic about what you will use in the future, and what will end up in a box somewhere.

Be efficient with greeting cards

This one is probably going to be a little more harsh. When’s the last time you looked through old birthday cards to reminisce on what they said? Are you really ever going to listen to that musical card again? Probably not. So why are you holding on to them? I understand if you want to have them up on the coffee table for a couple weeks, but after that, they really should be recycled or thrown out. They served their purpose, you appreciate the sentiment, but why keep it around taking up space? I’m a terrible offender at this; I have birthday cards kicking around from 5 or more years ago. And why? I don’t look at them, ever, but they take up room and are just another thing I have to move. If you think that they do serve some sort of memory or you think you would like to look back on them, try taking a picture of the messages and disposing of the hard copy. Then you still have the sentimental value of looking back and seeing who thought to give you a card and what nice message they may have written in the card, without all the clutter.

Follow the One Touch rule

The one touch rule means that when you put something down, think to yourself for a moment whether you’re going to have to touch this item again before it gets to where it belongs long term. The example I’ve heard before is your jacket when you get home. Many people will just shrug it off and perhaps lay it over the back of the couch or a chair. Then later they want to sit, so they move it to a table. Then before bed, they might actually hang it up. That’s touching that item twice more than you needed to before it was actually put away. We have a tendency to focus on what is directly in front of us, and push off actually putting things away. I do this all the time with dishes. Often I’ll leave my coffee mug on my desk for a while. Then I put it in the sink. Then I need to use the tap, so I move it to the counter. Then I need that piece of counter so I move it back to the sink. Eventually, I will add it to where I should be, which is the dishwasher. I may take a second longer to open the dishwasher and put the coffee cup in there, but it saves me so much more work later. Take the extra moment to choose where you’re setting something down.

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Put the books back on the shelf. Put the newspaper in the recycling bin. Hang up the sweater.

Are you really going to complete that project?

I love a good project. Making some interesting home decorations, building some fixtures in your backyard, or trying your hand at homemade lotions and beauty products. It’s fun to try something new, and it’s satisfying to see what you can do. But sometimes, life happens and projects don’t get finished. Maybe you don’t have the time, or you find the task more difficult than you originally thought, or not as fun as it could have been. My crafting storage is full of supplies for completely abandoned projects. So there are two steps to this one: try to stop dead-end projects before hand and purge the remnants once it’s abandoned. When you’re about to start a project, try to be more realistic about actually doing. Do you have the time right now? Do you have the ability to do it or have something with the knowledge to help you? Do they have the time to help you? Try to be honest, even if that means putting off the project for the time being. Not to mention, if you already have a project on hold, why did that happen? Besides the fact that you should tie up the ends on that one, maybe that means you shouldn’t start another. Speaking of that old abandoned project, why do you still have the half finished job or botched work? Get rid of those things! I know it can be disheartening to admit defeat, but sometimes you just have to let go.

Ask for experiences instead of items

Christmas comes around and we all start drafting up present lists, both being what we want and what we’ll get others. For a lot of people, this is the time to ask for that really expensive tech item you’ve been wanting or a video game that you don’t want to wait to go on sale. But a lot of the time, the stuff we ask for ends up just being more clutter in our lives! We ask for clothes and shoes that we don’t need, home items that we don’t have room for, and personal items we already have in our routines. So in order to cut down on bulking up at your birthday, try asking for experiences instead of items. Ask for tickets to see a concert or play, ask for a day at the amusement park, or request a day at the spa. There are a ton of experience based presents that you could ask for instead of something that is just going to end up bouncing around your shelves and put in storage. You might also find that these types of presents are also just better than receiving a physical item. You can create memories and try something new. It could also be a good way to spend time with someone special. The last couple of years, my fiancee and I have been going on a trip together instead of buying each other presents. Neither of us needed new clothes or video games, we have a ton already, but what we did need was some quality time together, away from busy life.

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This is a picture from our trip to Universal Studios, a trip which replaced Christmas presents last year. The trip itself wasn’t technically our gift to each other, but the money that would have been spent on each other was spent doing extra things at the park and hotel. 

 

 

 

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