If you can recognize personal patterns in these 3 key areas of your life, you will be on your way to stop clutter before it starts! These are ongoing aspects of life that require practice to create lasting change. With a level of self awareness and a plan, we can stop clutter before it starts and begin to live a more simple life.
Stop Clutter before it starts by sharing experiences not things.
We want people to know how much we care about them, often this is expressed via the exchange of gifts. Some people love to buy gifts, some people love to wrap and give gifts, some people cringe when they see a gift because they feel they already have too much stuff. Whether you are the person giving or receiving, it can be challenging to know what “Stuff” is worth to someone else. We need to have more open and candid conversations about the consumption of stuff and let people know when we prefer to receive less. When it comes to the art of gift giving, we can eliminate unneeded clutter and hurt feelings and give more thoughtful gifts by sharing our feelings openly and honestly. One way to give meaningful gifts that don’t create clutter is to share experiences and events, meals, concerts, vacations etc rather than buying actual things. This is my personal favorite way to stop clutter when it comes to the art of gift giving.
Another clutter trap that can stop us in it’s tracks is memorabilia. This might include kids artwork, handmade gifts (from family or friends) or things you associate with an event or occasion. This can be tricky, especially when you know someone spent minutes, hours, days or longer creating something for you. Maybe you can use it, maybe you know someone else who would love it more. You do not have to announce to the gift giver that you have sold or donated their masterpiece, you can discretely let it go when the time is appropriate.
Greeting cards and correspondence…Keeping every card you were ever given, just because you love someone doesn’t really help you remember the special moments! Keep a few special letters, cards and photo’s, take digital photo’s of a few you might be on the fence about and recycle the rest.
Memorabilia is more meaningful when you can easily access it rather than have to sort through a lot of clutter to find it.
Is your kids artwork clutter? It might be! Is this their first handprint or their fiftieth? Are they better at playing music than painting and putting together crafty creations? Create an artwork gallery wall, display things on rotation, snap photo’s of their art and as with above, only keep what is really unique, lets their personal creativity shine or helps you hold onto a very special memory. You are still an awesome parent even if you don’t keep every drawing, painting or artwork they ever made.
Before you buy, get to know your shopping triggers. This is not the post to cover addressing deeper issues with shopping addiction, yet I’m not making light of a situation that can be a big problem. Shopping for things we don’t need and spending more than we want can be a not so healthy pattern for the average person. Bring awareness to what you tend to shop for and when you find yourself wanting to spend. What are your patterns and traps? Do you love an estate sale, shoes, online shopping at 2am when you can’t sleep? Look for your traps and stop clutter before you buy. Find ways to distract yourself from shopping when you know you could easily fall into that trap. Delete the sale emails, don’t keep your tablet or phone by the bed, reward yourself for not shopping and use the one in, one (or more) out rule if you must shop. Buy things that you need, buy good quality but don’t buy for the sake of buying.
Want to learn more about what you really need and what you really use? Read this great article about the Pareto Principle.