Hey, I hear some of you took advantage of the recent ‘downtime’ and said “goodbye” to your clutter (aka Junk)?
How do I know that?
Because in one form or fashion this question keeps showing up in my inbox…. 🙂
“HELP< I just spent several days going through my stuff and getting rid of clutter, Now – How do I keep it from returning?”
First off – Congratulations – You’ve taken a HUGE step in simplifying your life and I’m so proud of you!
I know how freeing it is, because, I did a little decluttering of my own… (more about that below) Woo-hoo!
But here’s the dilemma, life has started to return to normal, (if you want to call having to wear face masks all the time normal – am I the only one that can’t breathe in those things.. they’re yucky) oops, got sidetracked 🙂
anyway, you’re scared (ok…some of you are petrified) that it’s all going to “find its way home…and bring guests with it” — Am I right??
Listen, even before I got your emails, I knew some of you had been busy as little beavers, because I got caught in those long lines at the landfill too. 🙂
I’ve been helping clients declutter for 22+ years and I can count on one hand the times I’ve had to sit in a line at a landfill — but recently I spent almost an hour sitting on the highway just waiting to turn into the crazy place….now, that’s a LOT OF JUNK!
(sidenote) ** At least, I hope it was junk and not things that could be recycled or repurposed in a better way – in my ‘humble opinion’ once something heads to the landfill – it should have exhausted all other options for reuse.
OK – OK … back to the question 🙂 that keeps showing up in my inbox
“Help, How do I keep my clutter from returning, now that I’ve gotten rid of it??
It just made sense to answer the question in a blog post so, you could reference in the future if need be:
For starters, as life gets busy again, you have to keep in mind that you are learning ‘new habits’ so,
Give yourself some grace.
Learning new habits takes time — so, rather than focusing on keeping all your clutter at bay — just focus on ONE hot spot.
Choose ONE area of your home and determine that no matter what ‘this area’ will NOT become a hot spot again.
Counters? Kitchen table? Bathroom counter?
It doesn’t matter, just choose one and then only focus on that one area.
As you concentrate on keeping this space clean and clear, you will learn to enjoy the benefits that less clutter brings, making it easier to add the next area.
Keep a basket or bag in your car for ongoing donations.
As you come across things that you want to donate or share with a loved one — IMMEDIATELY put those items in a basket or bag that you keep in your car and the next time you see your friend/loved one or pass the thrift store, you can just drop them off.
(sidenote)** If for some crazy reason you need the space in your car — before — you can get them dropped off, they can easily be set aside (because they’re contained) 🙂
Learn to LOVE the >>> One item in – One item out rule.
If you will make it a habit of asking this question when you start to make a purchase, (especially a LARGE one) you will be amazed at how many times you decide to leave that Bargain on the shelf or in the store. 🙂
Use trays or baskets to ‘corral’ items you use often.
While this won’t necessarily keep clutter from coming into the home, it will certainly create a feeling of less clutter, plus it eliminates the need to purchase duplicates just because you can’t find the ones you know you already own. 🙂 Things like sunglasses, reading glasses and nail clippers.
Clutter happens when you “put it here for now” – because you’ve never taken the time to assign the item a permanent home,
The solution: Create a temporary home – ’cause, even a temporary home is better than no home at all…and who knows the temporary residence make work out so well – it becomes permanent. (win, win)
If you find yourself spending a lot of time looking for things you use often — Car keys? Sunglasses? TV remotes?
then, having a designated place (aka, basket, decorative box or tray) where you “consistently” put these items and it will really help save your sanity.
And, last but certainly not least>>>
Schedule Time for Maintenance:
Remember, organizing is NOT a once and done thing, but a way of life. If you want a clutter free home, scheduled maintenance is a MUST.
Regardless of your best efforts (see the reason for my decluttering session below) Clutter happens!! And, the ONLY way to keep it at bay is to set aside time to keep things maintained.
I understand, you cringe at the thought of going through another decluttering session that lasts for days (like the one you just went through) so in order to keep that from happening – Pull out your calendar and create blocks of time for maintenance. (You’ll love yourself for it later)
It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 15 minutes — (Back when I was a newbie, and just starting the process of creating homes for all our ‘stuff’ – I did it, 15 minutes at a time – Yes, I organized our entire home — 15 minutes at a time)
So, while you’re cooking dinner, clean out a drawer or organize your plastic’s. Those small increments of time add up quickly.
While you’re in the bathroom, straighten up a shelf.
When in your office, file 5 to 10 papers or open today’s mail (ok you get my drift)
But, for those large projects like maintaining closets, the pantry and garage, carve out time on the calendar – think of it as a gift you’re giving yourself — because the rewards of living organized are priceless.
Hopefully, these tips will help you keep the clutter that you’ve cleared from returning.
Remember, you can reach me via email if you get stuck — I’m here to help you on the journey to living clutter free.
(now for a little back story on my recent decluttering binge)
*Even though I’m a ‘professional’ and I do this for others I had allowed WAY too much ‘STUFF’ to accumulate in my basement. My excuse 🙂 was “I’m saving this for ‘when we move” – We’ve been talking about moving for 15 of the 26 years we’ve lived in our home.
Problem is — We LOVE our home, this is where we’ve created memories with our ‘grands’ – we’ve remodeled and carved out a space that’s perfect for ‘us.’ – we’re not crazy about the choices some of neighbors have made…ok, “lack” of choices….but if you look up ‘convenient place to live’ and it’s got our picture beside it.
When we go ‘house shopping’ we always return home with the SAME thoughts and we have the SAME conversation we’ve been having for 15 years…
…. but, our house is just sooooo convenient…we’re 5 minutes from the Interstate, 10 minutes from 3 grocery stores, Walmart, the gas station, we could walk to the post office – 20 minutes from a major city…. 15 minutes from our church…20 minutes from the Atlanta airport.
Do I need to go on????? and besides we LOVE our home.
So here we sit…we may never move and I decided creating a space for my daughter and her family to hang out when they come visit was MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than me continuing to hang on to furniture and accessories, that I (might) use in my ‘someday house.’
Besides, God has provided my needs up to this point and I have NO reason not to believe He will provide (again) if we do move.
I can’t tell you how FREEING it was to finally say “Goodbye (and good riddance ) to all that ‘stuff.’
I have a few more tweaks to make and then I will share with you how I took a total ‘misfit’ of a basement and turned it into a retreat for my kids.
Take care and God Bless, until next time