by Susan McCarthy
When I give presentations about decluttering, I often get asked the logical question – How do I prevent the clutter from coming back?
My answer has some people push back in their chairs while others give a bit of a head shake/shoulder shrug combo that says, “I suppose so, but I don’t think this would work for me.”
Stop the Cycle of Clutter
Tell people to tidy up at the end of the day – sure, no protests. They might not do it, but it makes sense.
Suggest keeping a box available to fill with donations so you can declutter unwanted items as you find them – great idea.
Recommend letting go of one item for every item you bring into the house. Hmmm, there’s a bit of a pushback with this one. It makes sense but it seems extreme…until I tell them to stop shopping.
Prevent the Clutter from Returning
Don’t buy anything new.
Arms cross, eyes roll, words of protest tumble from tongues.
I go on to explain to participants that I don’t mean consumable items like food, cleaning supplies, or personal care products like shampoo. I mean those gadgets that tempt us with promises of saving time.
Or that item of clothing on the clearance rack marked at a price that you can’t ignore even though you aren’t certain if the color will match anything in your closet. Or the new holiday decoration that will brighten up the house.
Someone will speak up and tell me that if there’s a gadget out there that’s going to save them five minutes, they’re going to get it because it will be a worthwhile purchase. But then I mention watching a virtual cooking class on the topic of saving time when prepping and cooking meals.
The presenter used all sorts of gadgets that would help her prepare items faster than simply using a knife. As she went from item to item, all I could think of was how much time it would take to wash those time-saving gadgets. Sure, dinner might get on the table five minutes sooner…but then it would take more time to clean and put away everything after the meal.
New items have a cost.
By not making a purchase, we aren’t bringing items into our home as quickly as we unclutter them. We aren’t left wondering why decluttering is a never-ending process.
Remember, almost every item that you are decluttering is something that you had to buy because you were convinced it would help you in some way. And if you never or rarely used it, it could have stayed at the store.
Hi, I’m Susan.
And I’m here to help you clear the things cluttering your life so you can do and have more of what’s important to you.
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