You know when you have a nightmare about clutter, you’re gonna have to find a way how to stop clutter once and for all. It’s bad enough having clutter all over your house, but when it invades your sleep, you know you have a serious problem.
I had a dream I couldn’t get out of my bedroom. I didn’t think, nor was I scared a vicious dog was on the other side of the door waiting to bite my head off. It was much worse.
I dreamt I was walking towards my closed bedroom door to retrieve the coffee I smelled brewing in the kitchen. My hand started to shake as it touched the doorknob. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I felt fear. I wasn’t sure what type of fear it was, but I knew once I opened that door my life would no longer be the same.
I said to myself, “Stacey, you’re crazy. Your hands are shaking because you need caffeine”. As I slowly opened the bedroom door, I became face to face with cardboard boxes, old clothes I had given to Goodwill, and remnants of scrapbook paper I don’t remember owning. These items were piled up to the ceiling. I tried to push them down to free myself but to no avail. They wouldn’t move. The pile stood at attention like a Queen’s Guard protecting Buckingham Palace.
I took 6 steps back and charged at the intruder in hopes I’d push it down and run through the doorway triumphantly. It didn’t budge. After several attempts, I sat in my bed and started to cry hysterically, when I realized my clutter had held me a prisoner in my own home.
Then I woke up.
Sometimes it seems, as hard as you try the clutter multiples instead of vanishing. I know, it’s disheartening. There’s no need to get frustrated or throw your hands up in defeat.
I have a simple solution for you.
The key to decluttering is to stop it before it happens.
Simple enough, right?
Oh sure, I hear you say, my house is already a cluttered mess, how can I stop the avalanche from growing larger. I can’t stop it because it already happened.
Let’s take a step back for just a moment. Take a quick glance at everything in your house. Close your eyes and say to yourself:
“That was before. This is right now”.
We can’t change things in our past, but we can change our present.
I want you to grab a piece of paper and a pen, marker, pencil, crayon, anything you have within hands reach (yes, even lipstick will be fine). I want you to write the following:
I’m going to stop the clutter before it begins.
How to stop clutter before it begins.
If only our physical mailboxes had a spam filter
Aside from bills, what’s the other annoying thing that shows up in your mailbox? Junk mail. Throw the junk mail in the trash before bringing it into the house. If you know you’re going to throw it out, why bother bringing it in the house in the first place?
If you’re the type of gal who likes to shred anything that has your address on it, put a shredder next to your front door. It may not look pretty, but then again your house is somewhat cluttered. Do you think anyone’s gonna notice it anyway?
If you’re going to use a shredder, shred your mail as soon as you walk in the door. Don’t head towards the kitchen or toss it on the dining room table for later. Get rid of it before you do anything else.
Don’t worry, that ugly shredder won’t be living there long. Once you install this new habit, you’ll be able to move the shredder to an obscure location. Since it’s a habit, you’ll go right to the shredder regardless of its location.
Plastic utensils are not your friends
Stop hoarding plastic utensils from the take out restaurants. If you have them, use them once then throw them out. If you leave them in the sink, they’re gonna slip down the garbage disposal and you’re going to have to throw them out anyway.
Don’t put them in the dishwasher. They get all melty, funky looking and they’re porous so the dishwashing soap may not get rinsed out thoroughly. All they’re doing is adding clutter. There’s a time in life to be thrifty, and this is not one of them.
Who doesn’t love getting packages in the mail?
When you receive your orders from Amazon, Stitch Fix, QVC, etc. Don’t pile your cardboard boxes in a corner in your room or in the garage. Flaten them as soon as you remove your items.
You’ll want to designate a spot in your garage near the trash can as a reminder to bring them to the curb on trash day.
Don’t have curbside trash pickup? You’ll want you to still designate a spot in the garage, set an alert on your phone, planner, or whatever calendar you use to remind yourself to go to the recycling center (or whatever it’s called in your neck of the woods), at least twice a month.
There’s a thing called plastic container overload
Stop hoarding those lunchmeat containers. It’s okay to keep about 6 to 7 on hand.
If you’re worried you won’t have one the next time you need it, don’t worry. Every time you buy a new pack of Hillshire Farms lunch meat, you’re getting another container.
If you currently have 6 or 7 and you just finished a pack of maple ham, don’t save the container; throw it out.
Throw your receipts in someone else’s garbage can
I’m not saying you should turn into a special ops agent; do reconnaissance on your neighbor while he takes out the trash. I’m not saying you should make sure the coast is clear to throw your paper receipts in their trash can.
What I’m saying is…
Unless you need receipts for tax purposes, throw out all receipts from the gas station, grocery store, and fast food as soon as you log the purchase in your checkbook or budgeting tool.
**PEACHY DECLUTTERING TIP** After logging your gas purchase, throw out the receipt at the gas station. That’s one less piece of paper laying around.
The sole purpose of shoeboxes is to make a kid in kindergarten happy
When you come home from the store with a brand new pair of beautiful shoes, throw out the shoeboxes. Keeping your shoes in their boxes is a great way to keep them organized and dust-free, but let’s be real here. How many of your shoes do you actually keep in their boxes?
If you do store them in the boxes, get a trash bag and throw out all the paper and shoe inserts, silica packets, and those weird plastic L shaped things.
If you don’t store them in the box, break the boxes down and throw them out. You can also donate them to your local elementary school. I’m sure some kids in kindergarten could use it for a diorama.
Swiss Cheese was made for eating; not wearing
When you come home with new socks or underwear to replace the ones you own resembling swiss cheese. Throw them out. Don’t save them as “backups”. Just think about this. How awful would it be if you were wearing them then got into an accident? Just sayin’.
Don’t forget to throw out the packaging. Don’t leave it on your bedroom dresser to toss out later. You know perfectly well, later will be 6 months from now. Since they’re already in your hands, walk to the garbage can and drop them in.
Stockpiling is crack for hoarders
Stop stockpiling. When you go to the grocery store, just buy what you need. Although grocery clutter isn’t really the same as typical clutter, it’s clutter regardless. Do you really need 900 bottles of mustard? By the way, even condiments have a shelf life.
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful woman who learned how to stop clutter before it began
The key to decluttering is to not look at everything as a whole. You didn’t’ wake up one day and your house was filled with an army of paper boxes unless you had a super weird dream like me.
For most people, the clutter begins slowly. It begins with us bringing things into the house. The late George Carlin once said, “Your house is just a place for you to keep your stuff, while you go out and buy more stuff”.
Stuff doesn’t just magically appear; it is always brought in by someone.
By being proactive and performing these small tips, you will start to feel empowered, and your feeling overwhelmed will be decreased.
What’s the best part? Your piles of clutter won’t be growing as fast.
Which one of these 8 tips are you going to try first? Share in a comment below.