If you constantly bring home clutter, you constantly have to declutter or find yourself in a mess in no time. Who has time to declutter 15 minutes a day, or an hour a week? If you do, you’re lucky.
Ways clutter can sneak into your home
It sounds simple, but clutter is sneaky. It masquerades as the bargain you couldn’t pass up even though you’re not really sure what you’re going to do with that thing. It’s the branded party favor from work that you can’t sell, re-gift or figure out how to recycle. It’s the mound of junk mail that comes every week.
It’s those totally nifty things you buy on vacation or when you’re shopping for fun, and they’re so small and harmless you think they can’t cause clutter on their own, but somehow they breed into lots of small, harmless nifty things. It’s that thing your aunt gave you, and she’d be crushed if you got rid of it.
It’s simple – not easy, but not rocket science – to change your thinking and your priorities so you don’t bring home things you can’t use just because it seemed like a neat idea at the time. But what do you do if it makes you sad not to bring home clutter?
If bringing little treats home was a pleasure you looked forward to, you may need to change your thinking. It doesn’t all have to be about denial. Instead, you can just shift the rewards.
For example, put the cost of the clutter item in a piggy bank instead of buying the item. When you see something you desperately want to bring home but can’t really use, check what it costs and instead put that amount in a savings jar at home.
Label the jar with what you’re saving up for: a really useful bit of computer equipment, some clothes you know you’ll wear, a nice evening out. Or travel. Or a new house.
You may find you can pay a whole utility bill (or two) with the money you save this way, which is another cool way to reinforce in your mind how great skipping the clutter is.
If collectibles or a hobby are causing a lot of your clutter, you may need to get more selective about what you bring home.
- Keep a list with you of what you already have at home so you don’t make unnecessary repeat purchases.
- Be more selective about what you bring home. For example, instead of buying every beautiful color of artists’ paints you find, learn how to mix your own colors.
- Make sure you have functional storage at home for your hobby and know how much room you have for new purchases.
Getting the household on board
If you live with people who love clutter, it’s tough to get them to change. If you’re the only one doing the cleaning, you can lay down the law. It might be simplest to designate areas they’re allowed to clutter. A drawer here, a room there – depending on the size of your home.
Warn them that if you find clutter outside those areas when you’re cleaning, you’ll just dump it in a designated area with no particular care. So if they care about their things they should take the time to keep them where they belong. Or else they can start doing the cleaning, and doing it to your standards.
If cleaning is a shared chore in your household, have some discussions about clutter. Try not to single any one person out as the biggest clutter source. Talk about how the whole household will benefit from having things in more order.
Your home doesn’t have to be entirely free of clutter or look like a magazine photo shoot. It’s all about keeping clutter under control.
If you’ve decluttered and you still have too much stuff, or someone in your household keeps bringing home stuff that isn’t really junk, you may need to rent a storage unit.
Whatever you do, don’t rent a storage unit just to hold a bunch of junk. Declutter your home first and then use the storage unit in an organized way to hold some of your useful, valuable stuff.