You did it. You finally de-cluttered your home or closet. Slowly, though, you’ve noticed that items have begun to creep back in. Now you have more knick-knacks again than Great Aunt Ida. What happened? Well, decluttering is only half the battle. The other is to have a plan put in place to prevent clutter from sneaking back in. But first, make sure you read the post “Live More With Less: Are You Holding Onto Items Others Could Use?” to de-clutter if you haven’t already.
5 Pretty Simple Ways to Prevent Clutter
1.) Learn contentment
The first step in preventing clutter is learning to be content with what we have. If not, we will continue to bring in unnecessary items. For some people this means continuing to shop with reckless abandon.
I know. I’ve been there.
In the past, when I had a bad day there was nothing like a little retail therapy to perk me up. But after wearing a new dress a few times it begins to lose its, well, newness. I often found I wanted to buy something new to get that feeling back again.
For other people the need to find a deal prevents them from keeping clutter out. Guys, I love a good deal. But don’t let a good deal spur inspire you to buy 20 mini tents you will have to store in your garage. (I actually had a boss did this once.)
A good deal is only a good deal if it is on something you need or have been eyeing for a while.
This is where contentment comes in. If we view our possessions as filling needs instead of filling all our wants, then we will not only be more grateful for them, but no longer feel the need to keep bringing more stuff into our homes.
I often talk about how much we have to be grateful here at Pretty Simple Ideas and it is true every day. If you’re like me, you may forget occasionally.
For further encouragement on gratitute you might enjoy this post, What To Do When You Don’t Feel Grateful to bump up your thankfulness meter.
2.) Be Intentional About New Purchases
The next step is to be intentional about each and every new purchase we make.
Why? Because when we forget the reason for wanting to clear our house of clutter in the first place, we often leave a larger door open to let it all back in again.
Next time you are about to make a purchase ask yourself these questions:
Do I need it?
Do I already have something like it?
Do I love it?
If a clothing item, will it match what else I already have in my closet?
Do I have a space for it?
Am I buying it only because its on sale?
If I ever feel like I am making a rash decision I will sit on it a day or two. If a few days pass and I still feel like it is a good buy I can go ahead and get. In some cases the item is gone (Craigslist) or no longer on sale. In those cases I shrug and remind myself I saved money. The even better part is a week or so down the line I’ve forgotten about that item.
Along with sale items, don’t feel like you have to bring things into your house because it is FREE. Sure, free is good, but do you need it? Will you even use it? Or are you taking something free that someone else who actually needs it could use more?
Now, if you want it and love it and it’s free then it’s a triple win for you. It’s good to pause and ask ourselves these questions before agreeing to take it.
3.) If something new comes in, something else must go out
In with the new – out with the old! (Not as catchy, but you get the point.)
I’m not an extreme minimalist; I do like to buy new things. But I also have a rule: If something new come sin, something old must go out.
Of course this rule doesn’t always apply. I recently accepted baby clothes from my sister. I didn’t own any baby clothes so I didn’t have any to get rid of. Also, we are bringing in a new human into our home so she will need clothes!
But for other items this rule works great. Did you buy a new pair of jeans? See if you can find an old pair to donate. The same goes for: spatulas, towels, shoes, sheets, mirrors – you name it.
This rule is not exact, either. But it is good to get in the mindset of getting rid of items if we bring more in. That way we can keep the clutter at bay.
4.) Create a spot for every item to prevent clutter
Daunting task, right? But I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “A Place for Everything and everything in its place.”
If you want to keep your home organized and clutter-free you must have a place for each item in it.
You need a place for socks. (Yes, you even need a place for solo socks that lost their partner so when you find it you can re-unite the two!)
You also need a place for utensils, bills, necklaces, cleaning supplies, towels, cards, etc. As you come across items start grouping them together. Or in the very least create a list of items that will need a permanent home.
When we don’t put organization systems in place stuff starts to pile up. Why do you think so many of us have junk drawers? We don’t know where to put certain items.
But beware of the lie that you need to buy more store and organization items.
Guys, if you need to buy more stuff to store your stuff, you have too much stuff.
The more we let go from our homes the less we need storage to contain it. I always find things fall into place after that. For more inspiration make sure to read 10 Ways to Become a Better Organizer.
5.) Imagine Your Dream Home
This is my favorite tip. Inspiration is the key to keeping a household in order.
What do you want your home to look like?
By this I don’t mean quartz counter-tops and a farmhouse table (Although I love both) But instead…
How do you want it to flow?
Is it light and bright?
Is it easy to walk around?
Are you drawers nice and organized?
Can you find anything you need at a moments notice?
Picture reading a book. What does your space around you look like?
If you’re having trouble I’d recommend creating a vision board. Cut out photos of spaces you like from magazines and put them together on one visual board. Let this be your inspiration to keep things picked up, clutter-free and clean.
For the record, I am not trying to make everyone a minimalist. In fact, some people feel uncomfortable in minimalistic homes. You might actually prefer Hygge (cozy) over minimalism and that is fine! I’m trying to help you create a home you are comfortable in and that inspires you.
The more we can prevent clutter from sneaking back in, the more we can enjoy our homes and each space in it.