“Look at all that clutter, it used to be money.”
By Sheri Wible, Professional Home Organizer
We can do all the organizing in the world, but if we don’t control the number of items coming into and leaving our home, we risk sabotaging our efforts. We need to adopt some new habits to help maintain our organizing systems. I’ve compiled a list of my top ten favorite tips for preventing clutter build-up in your home. This blog will cover five of my best-loved tips. Watch this blog site for Part 2 with the remainder of my favorite tips for preventing accumulation.
1. ESTABLISH A PERMANENT DONATION BIN IN YOUR HOME
Establish a permanent donation bin with a dedicated location in your home. Mine is in my clothes closet. Whenever you run across an item you no longer want or use, immediately place it in the donation container. It does not matter if the item comes from the kitchen, closet, or garage. Anything no longer needed goes into the bin. Once the container is full, drop at your favorite charity and start again. If you come across an item that is larger than your dedicated donation bin, place it immediately in your vehicle, and drop it off at your local donation site next time you go out.
2. ADOPT A ONE IN, ONE OUT POLICY
My husband and I subscribe to the one in/one out policy (sometimes one in/two out) when we bring a new item into the home. For example, if we purchase a new piece of clothing, another needs to leave (into the donation bin it goes, see Tip 1 above). Same goes for any other item we purchase. Always be sure to get rid of the item your new purchase is replacing.
3. DO NOT BRING JUNK MAIL INTO YOUR HOME
If possible, do not allow junk mail to cross the threshold of your door. Sort it outside (or in your garage) at your external recycle bin (or trash can) and pitch it. Open the remaining pieces of mail. Pare down to just the necessary pieces of mail. Get rid of all the outer envelopes, internal envelopes, and other unneeded pieces of paper that seem to accompany the one needed piece of paper. Recycle all pieces of unnecessary materials. I even had one client place a shredder in her garage so she could shred any unwanted pieces of mail with personal information immediately, and not allow it in her house. (The only exception to this rule is mail for someone else in your home.) With this habit, we are only bringing in absolutely necessary pieces of paper.
4. JUST SAY NO TO FREEBIES
Do not accept freebies. Examples are the promotional gifts you get at a convention, golf tournament, or signing up for a bank account, etc…. Just don’t take it. If for some reason, you cannot seem to refuse the free items, simply place them in your donation bin upon returning home.
5. REQUEST CONSUMABLES AS HOLIDAY GIFTS
For holidays, ask for consumable items such as gift cards or donations to your favorite charity. If someone insists on a physical gift, still think in terms of consumable items like your favorite cologne or perfume, some fancy chocolates, a bottle of wine, quality coffee, or other treats that you might not buy yourself.
BONUS TIP: Before birthdays and major gift giving holidays, do a purge!! This makes room for the items you do receive and takes the stress away from where to put them. This is especially helpful if you have children. Have them participate in the birthday or holiday purge for an additional win-win.
I promise these habits will help stop the accumulation of unwanted items in your home and help maintain your organizational systems. No one item is worth the peace you get from a well ordered, clutter-free environment. With some intention and forethought, you can keep it that way. These are also habits you can teach your family members. You may think it is difficult to get compliance, but that is not my experience. Most issues come from lack of a system and lack of clear understanding of the expectations. If you make the systems simple, and you follow them yourself, you are more likely to get cooperation from the rest of the family.