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How to Address the Source of Clutter

where clutter comes from

In my work as a professional organizer I usually make several trips a week to the local donation dropoff center. Recently, it has been filled to overflowing. Here’s what it looked like last week:

Even though I see lots of clutter in people’s homes, looking at this mountain of unwanted stuff made me feel a little sick. These objects were once considered valuable enough for someone to exchange money for them and now they are simply castoffs. I wonder how our local thrift stores can possibly turn over this volume of stuff. This is just one drop off location in my city, and for weeks it has been bursting at the seams.

While I’m glad to see that people are starting to see the importance of getting rid of things (Marie Kondo’s Neflix show has probably contributed to that), our purchasing habits have not taken a hit. Spending on consumer goods rose $123.5 billion in March, reflecting the highest rate of growth in almost a decade. It’s easier than ever to purchase things on the spur of the moment. With one click on Amazon we can have virtually anything delivered to our door in two days.

How can we get off the treadmill of purchasing more than we need only to dispose of the excess and start over? It begins with each of us becoming more thoughtful about our purchases. Turn off the one-click ordering and remove your credit card numbers from your computer’s autofill. Create some friction, some space between you and your spending. Then use that space to pause and ask yourself these questions:

Do I really need this item or am I just feeling tempted in this moment to buy it?

Do I have a long-term use for this thing or will I be donating it within the year?

If you conclude that this item is just a temporary fix, try to resist the urge to buy. Place it in your cart and revisit it in a couple days. When I do this I often forget about about it completely! Remember, the most effective way to reduce clutter in your home is to stop bringing so much in. Once you own something it is much more difficult to part with it, so be selective about what you fill your space with.

If you found these tips helpful be sure to subscribe to the Pretty Neat weekly email! You'll get a short and sweet message each week with my best advice for a more beautiful and functional home. Click here to sign up, and you'll also receive my FREE guide: How to Get Rid of Stuff!

Make it fab!


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