So many of us long for a clutter free home but struggle over and over to keep clutter out.
Either our house is so cluttered we don’t know where to start. Or we do declutter but can’t stop clutter from coming back.
Practical ways to keep clutter out are essential whichever stage of decluttering we are at.
So I have for you here, 10 essential steps to keep clutter away.
These simple but powerful tips will both:
- keep clutter at bay whilst you start decluttering
- and minimise clutter from coming in when you’ve finished.
Do give them a try. They are not difficult. But they do get to the bottom of what causes us to have clutter.
They also have instant impact, so we can feel the benefits of clutter free living fast.
And feeling the benefits of clutter free living is the best motivation to declutter more and to stop clutter returning.
If you are feeling totally overwhelmed by clutter and have no idea where to start decluttering, do read my simple declutter plan that cover the Just 10 Things declutter method. It truly is amazing!
10 Ways To Keep Clutter Out
1. Beware of Bargains
One of the simplest, most powerful ways to keep clutter out is to be beware of so called “bargains”.
Things are not a bargain if we never eat, wear, use or enjoy them in any possible way.
So don’t fall for the weasel words of the marketeers, hold onto your hard earned cash and only ever buy something on sale when you absolutely know you will make good use of it.
2. Blag & Borrow First
Another incredibly powerful way to keep clutter out of our home is to borrow before we buy.
Lots of our clutter is caused by buying stuff – for new babies, new hobbies, new homes, new projects – we convince ourselves we will need but then never use.
By borrowing everything from baby stuff to camping equipment and DIY tools before we buy, we can work out whether we will actually use it very much, if at all. Most of us don’t use over 50% of the stuff we buy!!
So borrow from your mother or a friend or a neighbour on a local WhatsApp or Facebook group before your buy and work out whether it’s actually worth the cost and hassle of owning and looking after.
3. Stop Stockpiling So Much
Stockpiling can save us money. And is sensible when supplies are tight.
But it can also be a massive cause of clutter and a big waste of money.
Lots of us clutter our kitchen with stockpiles of food and cleaning products we won’t use before they expire. We then have to go through the pain – and guilt – of decluttering the wasted stuff.
So to keep clutter at bay, only ever stockpile food or toiletries you use week in, week out. And set a strict space limit. I have one shelf for cans and one for dried goods and that’s it, no more. It’s manageable and there’s no waste.
4. Give Up On Over Gifting
Now this tip is not easy.
We all love to give gifts to our loved ones – of course we do – but over gifting is a huge cause of clutter.
In today’s world, many families and many kids now have more toys and more clothes and more gadgets than we will ever have time to enjoy. Gifting each other even more things – however lovingly meant – can be cruel not kind.
So to keep clutter out of your home, think about your own gifting and whether you could switch to great digital gifts or experience gifts. And start to talk to your family about their gifting and how you can exchange your love in a way that supports a clutter free home.
5. Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe
Unsubscribing from catalogues, shopping clubs and marketing lists sounds like an obvious way to keep clutter out.
But it’s more powerful than we might think.
Unsubscribing from advertising through our letterbox doesn’t just keep clutter off our kitchen counters.
It actually switches off the non stop marketing into our homes of the message that buying more, more, more will make us and our families happier. It’s a lie. It won’t.
Most of us will be much happier with less stuff in a clutter free home we actually have time to enjoy.
6. Refuse Freebies
Freebies have become another massive marketing wheeze.
It’s not totally clear they work but businesses think they do and bombard us with “free” t-shirts, caps, teddies, mugs, pens, reusable bags etc etc etc.
Except they are not free. We all pay a huge price for our clutter. Not just the price of the space clutter hogs which costs us in rent and mortgage payments. But as importantly the price to our mental health.
There’s a really strong connection between clutter and depression, anxiety, anger and family rows.
So don’t clutter your home with horrid mugs and ugly t shirts you’ll never wear, even if they claim to be free!!
7. Leave The Leaflets
Leaflets don’t seem like a big cause of clutter.
But they do add to our paper clutter which is a big source of stress for lots of us.
And the reason we all grab them – however dull – is actually one of the biggest underlying causes of clutter. And that is our fear of missing out or FOMO. We take the leaflets just in case we’ve missed something other people know.
So, leaving the leaflets – without reading them – when they’re offered keeps out a little bit of paper clutter but also helps to build our resistance against FOMO. Building our FOMO resistance will keep even more clutter at bay in the long run.
8. Don’t Buy Two When One Will Do
Starting in the grocery store, buy one get one free encouraged us to buy more than we would eat.
It’s now got to the point where it is actually much harder to buy just what we need.
More and more things come in bulk packets. And it’s not just food.
Blouses and t-shirts come in packs of at least two. And tights, socks and underwear are often in packs of 5 or even 10.
It feels like we’re getting stuff cheaper. And it feels more convenient.
But it’s a recipe for clutter chaos in everywhere from our fridge and freezer to our clothes drawers.
And again that chaos costs us. The average US household wastes 30% of the food they buy. That’s a lot of money we chuck away each week.
And most of us barely wear most of our clothes and that’s a major cause of the increase in the clothes moths that can devastate our wardrobe, which again costs us.
So next time you’re shopping, step back for a moment and consciously ask yourself “will one do?”
That little moment of resistance can protect us from the “new normal” of buying huge amounts of stuff in the name of convenience we then have to chuck out or endlessly declutter.
9. Stop One Click Shopping
Online one-click shopping has taken “convenience” shopping to a whole new level.
And yes of course it is convenient, when we truly need something urgently and we can order it easily, instantly for immediate delivery. What’s not to like?
The problem, very simply is that one click shopping gives us an endorphin hit. That endorphin hit can make online shopping highly addictive. Many of us just about keep it in check as we do other addictive behaviours like alcohol or gambling. But some of us don’t and the shopping snowballs out of control.
To keep clutter at bay and our home clutter free, we all really do need to keep an eye on one click shopping addiction. It can be a major cause of clutter chaos, problem debt and severe mental stress in lots of families.
If addictive online shopping is causing a clutter crisis in your home you are truly not alone.
Out of control addictive behaviour – whether our own or our loved one’s – can take a terrible toll on family life and sometimes needs outside help to resolve.
But these practical tips can help break the habit and keep clutter out :
- Go on an online shopping detox for a month.
- Remove your credit card details from anywhere you shop regularly – being forced to put them in gives us a little bit more window to resist.
- Unsubscribe from one click shopping schemes like Amazon Prime.
- Consider closing your Paypal account if you are only really using it for shopping.
- Build positive endorphin triggering habits into your day, e.g. exercise.
- Build simple stress relief activities into your day as some of us are more vulnerable to addictive shopping when stressed.
- Go for a walk every day – it can reduce stress hormones, ease anxiety and gently release endorphins.
- Shop in small physical shops whenever you can – many of us are much less likely to shop in an out of control way in a small space where we are connecting with other people.
- Connect with family, friends & neighbours every day, as we seem to be more vulnerable to online addictions when socially isolated.
And finally get the whole family decluttering with the Just 10 Things declutter method.
It’s an amazingly powerful – though super easy – way to get huge amounts of clutter out of your home BUT it’s real genius is, it gives us a little daily endorphin hit from decluttering rather than from buying more clutter.
So basically it keeps clutter out whilst we declutter.
If you haven’t tried it yet, do give it a go. I really do think it is the simplest way to declutter and to keep clutter out.
10. Stop Keeping Up With The Jones
My final tip for keeping clutter out and enjoying a clutter free home, is to try and stop keeping up with the Jones.
That’s not easy.
Keeping up with the Jones is actually a fundamental part of what it means to be human.
We’re social creatures. We’re nosy about our neighbours. We care about our status in the pecking order. We worry about missing out. And so when the Jones buy stuff we think we need to buy it too.
But you know what?
The Jones are having screaming rows about clutter too!!
The Jones can’t find anything, have lost really valuable stuff and forgotten to return that form due back last Thursday because it was hidden under a pile of cr*p on their kitchen counter.
The Jones can’t fit their car in their garage.
And have seriously considered a moon light flit where they leave it all behind and start again because all the endless piles of unused stuff bought to bring joy are actually unbelievably depressing.
And no, folding socks Marie Kondo style, didn’t help the Jones keep clutter out either!!
We really are all in this together. And we are all suffering. We’ve created an economy of plenty that actually makes many of us – including the Jones – miserable.
So next time you’re tempted to buy something to keep up with the Jones next door or on Instagram remember we only have time and space in our lives to enjoy a few things properly and most of the time we really will be happier without.
I do hope these practical clutter free living tips really do help you keep clutter out and enjoy a clutter free home.
For more support decluttering do check out these resources :
- Just 10 Things – the gentle decluttering method that works.
- Declutter Guide – a step by step to decluttering your home including your kitchen, garage, paperwork & boxes.
And follow my page Happier Without for motivational tips in living clutter free.