How to Keep Stuff Out of Your Decluttered Home

You've done the hard work, now keep it awesome

Photo by tu tu on Unsplash

Have you done it? Have you decluttered your home?

Congratulations! What now?

Decluttering our spaces is a lot of work for most of us. It takes a long time, and is full of difficult decisions that can leave us wondering if we’ve done the right thing.

All it usually takes to know that we have is a few weeks living in an uncluttered space. Enjoying the clean counters, being able to walk without tripping on toys, having a working system in place to deal with papers — it’s all a wonderful happy fairyland … until it isn’t.

Little by little, the clutter starts to creep back in. You might buy something for the kitchen here, or some new paint brushes there, or you have a birthday and friends and family get you things you may at one time have wanted, but now don’t really fit into your life.

But you feel bad not accepting them, or you realize you really do need that thing that you gave away, and so in comes more stuff.

Soon, and before you know it, you’ve got piles of stuff on your once-clean surfaces, and the stress that comes with a cluttered space has returned, as well as the realization that you have to go through the decluttering process all over again.

So how do you avoid that? How do you keep clutter from taking back over?

Here are a few suggestions to help you stay the clutter-free course.

Be vigilant

One of the reasons clutter creeps back in is we’re not paying close enough attention. It just sort of happens without us really noticing, and then, when it’s really bad, we finally do notice.

To keep clutter out, we have to notice when it’s just starting to come back in. That means we have to really get to know our home and really see when things are out of place or need to be dealt with.

Of course, you know your home. But do you really see it every day? Sometimes we just get blind to things. They become part of the background until one day we look around and notice we have five piles of papers scattered around the dining room.

Make it a practice to notice everything in your home. Each day, pick one room and scan it, mentally making note of everything your eyes come across.

Actually saying the name of what you see “bed, pillows, nightstand, 5 books on nightstand,” etc. helps your brain register what you are looking at. That can help you notice the stealthy build up of piles and clutter earlier.

Say no to new things

You spent all this time and effort trying to get your space cleaned out. You made the tough decisions about your mementoes and heirlooms and photos. You sold, donated or tossed what no longer served you, and you cleaned and organized the rest.

You’ve done a lot of work! Why on earth would you want to ruin that with a shopping trip or, worse yet, multiple shopping trips where you bring “just one thing” back each time?

I’m sure you don’t want to ruin all that hard work. So the best thing to do is to say no.

Say no to shopping trips with friends. Instead of hitting up whatever store it is that you lose control in, find something else you could be doing.

For instance, my personal nemesis is Target. But now that I know that, now that I’m aware that I can rarely leave that store with just what I came in for, I’ll put off going, and instead will try to find other things to occupy my time and distract me. For me, that means I’ll write instead, or I’ll put together a picnic for the kids, or I’ll clean the house. There’s nothing like cleaning the house to not make you want to bring in anything else that needs cleaning.

Course correct

Of course, we aren’t always successful in keeping new things out. And sometimes when we’re being vigilant, we’ll notice that there are quite a few things that need to be dealt with.

So do that. Deal with those things now.

Course correct a little bit so you can stay on the decluttered path more easily and with less time investment than if you get so far off course that you have to repeat the entire process.

Find a place for the new things you’ve bought. Put away the things that have been left sitting out. Deal with that pile of papers.

Tackle the little things before they become big, and you’ll be enjoying your decluttered space for years to come.

How do you keep your place neat after you’ve decluttered?

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