In all the homes I get to see in my job, I rarely find any unused storage space. It seems no matter how large the place we live, we fill it to capacity with stuff. Remember when you were starting out on your own? You may have rented a small apartment or shared a space with roommates. You likely had everything that was necessary to function, even though your square footage was very limited. We somehow lose sight of that as we upgrade to larger homes, and with each successive move we accumulate more and more. At some point you find yourself burdened with an entire basement or attic or garage filled with things you rarely use. Is there any way to prevent this from happening? It takes a little discipline, but there are ways to resist the urge to fill all the empty spaces in your home. Here are some ways to do it: 1. Recognize the problem – Pay attention to your tendency to hang on to things. We keep a lot of stuff simply out of habit, so try to become more aware of your patterns. The next time you have the urge to add another item to an overstuffed closet, drawer, or shelf, ask yourself if you have a real use for it, or if it will just become clutter. 2. Give yourself artificial limits – It can be challenging to get rid of things when you have available storage space. To counteract that, divide up your storage areas with shelves, dividers, or containers, and use that structure to dictate how much you will keep. For example, limit holiday décor to a specific number of bins, or limit clothing to the hangers in your closet. When your belongings exceed those limits, it’s time to weed some out. 3. Follow the 1-in, 1-out rule – For every item you bring into your home, get rid of one similar item. A new pair of shoes, for example, means saying goodbye to an old pair. If you are trying to reduce the excess, try 1-in, 2-out, instead! 4. Embrace the empty space – The constant busyness of modern life has made us uncomfortable with emptiness, so we chatter through lulls in conversation and scan social media during our free minutes. But having some empty space in our day is necessary to rest, and it’s important in our physical environment, too. Give your things room to breathe and your eyes a place to rest. Do this, and your home will be a much more relaxing place to be.
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