I want to share 4 tips with you on how to keep clutter away for good so you never have to face it again. Once you’ve “Konmaried” everything, you probably don’t want to have to do it all over again. The key is to maintain and keep the clutter under control. If you want to keep the clutter down going forward, you’ll want to incorporate some new habits.
Create a Short Feedback Loop
First things, first. Snap a few pictures of your newly decluttered space. Your going to use these pictures of your uncluttered spaces as a reference and reminder of the way you want to keep it up. This is your new normal and your new standard.
To maintain your habit of keeping clutter away, it needs to become a regular part of your routine. Snap a picture of the area you want to keep clutter free each day for the next two or three weeks. Compare the pictures to the first ones you took and check if they match. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s okay if it’s not.
The purpose here is to use the pictures as a tool for feedback. Living life day to day, it’s easy to become “clutter blind”. Pictures don’t lie and they don’t get mad at you for leaving a mess. If you notice a little more clutter it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s probably manageable to set a timer for 10 to 25 minutes and take care of it.
Creating a feedback loop for yourself is key to keeping up your new clutter free habits. It’s a good way to check if you want to make any changes or improvements. Through this picture-taking exercise, do you notice a space becoming cluttered again and again, or getting worse?
This is a perfect moment to dig a bit deeper into the possible causes of what’s creating the clutter you don’t want.
Questions to ask:
- How many small actions does it take put something away?
- What can be done to make it super easy to maintain the space?
- What activity is going on around the cluttered spot?
- Do you want, need, and use everything stored in the space?
- Who else is using this space?
- Is everyone on board about keeping the space clutter free?
- Is everyone who uses this space aware of where things go?
- Who is responsible for keeping the area clean and clutter free?
- Do you care more than others about keeping the space neat and tidy?
- Is there a schedule in place to keep things in order (daily, weekly, monthly, annually?)
- Are purchased items or gifts coming into the space and nothing’s going out?
Got a project or two going? Don’t start anything new unless and until you finish one already in progress. I love getting new ideas and I get really excited to start trying them out. But, whoa!, wait a minute! It’s so easy to start something new without closing the loop on projects you’re already working on. Think S.O.S (Shiny Object Syndrome) and save yourself from having too many projects going at once.
Our brains are wired to fire up at novelty, which is why we’re often more motivated to turn to something new than to stick with something already in progress. Even if you don’t have attention difficulties that come with ADD/ADHD or some brain based injuries, you’ll feel the pull towards distraction.
One way to combat this is to take small, manageable pieces of a larger project to get it done. A straight forward way is batching tasks or using a timer while you work. Create well defined chunks of tasks.
A real life example:
Laundry can turn into a big, time consuming project if you wait a long time in between. I’ve created a few guidelines to help me easily keep up with laundry and get it done from start to finish. First of all, I don’t require myself to do all the laundry in one day. I may do it 2 – 3 times a week, in smaller batches.
Most of the time I don’t start a load of laundry unless I’m 99% sure I can finish it. My goal is that I don’t ever want wet laundry to be sitting in the washing machine overnight, because, ewww! I prefer to have the current load washed, dried, folded and put away before my head hits the pillow that night.
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Bare minimum, it’s gotta make it to the dryer. Sometimes I’ll go to bed with the dryer running and in the morning do a quick fluff and fold, and put away if I have time. I wash my and my husband’s clothes. I’ll fold everything, but he puts his own clothes away.
When you break down the larger task of doing the laundry into manageable steps, it’s so much easier to get it done. I don’t feel stressed about it and I’m not spending an entire day or weekend doing laundry!
You know this one already, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. Keep up regular donations. I scheduled a donation pick up two weeks ago and put the donations out this morning.
My personal standard and schedule I like to follow is to donate about once a quarter. It may be more or less depending on what’s going on.
One of the best tips I can give is to keep at least one donation bag or bin somewhere in the house at all times. I keep mine in my closet. I use a laundry basket lined with a bag and throw stuff in there I want to donate from time to time. Everyone in the house knows where it is and they can contribute to it, too.
You could keep one in each person’s closet, in the garage, family room corner, laundry, kitchen, or wherever you have space and it won’t bother you to see it.
Shop With a Plan
There’s nothing inherently bad in shopping. You may be in the habit of going shopping and maybe you don’t have a list or something catches your eye. You bring the items home, some things you need and some you don’t.
A contributing factor to future clutter build up is shopping without a plan and frequently giving in to impulse buying. There’s no reason to feel shame or guilt if this is something you do. Most of us do this at least once in a while when we’re out shopping.
Being more aware is important. Be mindful when you go out shopping. Keep track of what you buy and whether those items are tending to become part of the clutter build up.
Decide In Advance
Part of your new standard for maintaining a less cluttered space could be saying no to impulse buys or freebies. I used to say “If it free, it’s for me!”, but I don’t say that anymore. I realized it was creating clutter for me. Generally, I don’t take freebies anymore unless it’s something I know I will use and enjoy in the near future.
It’s easy for me to say, “no thank you” when I’m offered a freebie because I’ve already pre-decided I don’t take freebies any more. I don’t take them for myself or if I think anyone else I know might want it. Chances are, I’ll end up forgetting to give the freebie to that person and then it’s clutter in my space.
I’ve worked too hard to get clutter free and it’s not worth it!
Below are some questions to ask:
- Buying new clothes
- Can each item be worn to create multiple outfits?
- Do you already have something similar?
- Is this something you really need?
- Do you LOVE how these clothes fit, look, and make you feel?
- Stuff for a project
- Do you have time to complete this project now or very soon?
- How many unfinished projects do you have?
- Are you just bored?
- Bulk Purchases
- Do you have enough space to store this?
- How much is enough?
- Where will you store these items?
Most of my our clients know this little mnemonic we share:
If you buy something fun,
Get rid of one,
If you buy something new,
Get rid of two
This is just a fun reminder to think before purchasing. Have a plan of where stuff will go once you’re home and what can go out.
Leave a comment below. What are some ways you’ve been successful at keeping clutter away or what challenges have you faced?
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