5 Habits to Prevent Clutter Before It Starts (And Experience More Calm in Your Life)
By Britt Reints
Photo: Inc Photo/Creative Commons
There are few things I hate more than having to spend an entire weekend cleaning my house, especially when that cleaning mostly involves simply putting stuff away or getting rid of things we don’t use. What a waste of my precious time! Surely there’s a better way to maintain our homes and our quality of life.
1. Don’t get the mail until you’re ready to read it.
I’ve been trying to implement this habit, but my husband keeps messing things up by bringing in the stack of junk mail, flyers, and misaddressed bills everyday when he gets home from work. In my mind, it makes sense to leave that mess of papers in the mailbox until I have a few minutes to sort through it, preferably while standing over the trash. What isn’t garbage can then get put in its proper place immediately as well. Now I just need to get my husband on board.
2. Store things where they are used.
The easier it is to put things away, the more likely you are to do just that. So while all of your board games might fit perfectly in the hallway closet, it probably makes more sense to store them in the room where you actually play games. Same goes for all those shoes, coats, and bags everyone insists on leaving by the door. If that’s where they get put on and taken off, provide adequate storage for your stuff to live there.
3. Stop shopping as a hobby.
The easiest way to reduce clutter is to have less stuff. Elizabeth Liu once went a year without shopping, and she discovered that she ended up with as much extra time on her hands as cash. Shopping is something many of us do habitually, and that leads to houses full of things that need to be put away.
4. Minimize your multi-tasking.
Most of us know that if we put stuff away when we’re done using it, our house will stay mostly clutter free. So where do we go wrong? We’re rarely done. Before we’ve finished one task, we’re already in the middle of another, leaving us little time to properly end and clean up after what we were working on in the first place. Multi-tasking is one of the worst customs to come out of modern living: it decreases opportunities to experience flow and makes it impossible to be mindful. Practicing doing just one thing at a time can help you keep your house cleaner and make you happier.
5. Leave empty space in your schedule.
The busier I am, the messier my house gets. It’s been this way since I was a teenager running into my bedroom just long enough to change clothes and throw my discarded outfit on the floor. Today my busyness shows up as bags left on the kitchen counters, unpacked suitcases in the bedroom, and empty toilet paper rolls on the back of the toilet. When life gets too busy for me to throw away a tube of cardboard, it’s time for an adjustment. Leaving empty space in my schedule – both on a daily basis and on a larger scale – means I have time to put things away when I’m done with them. It also means I have time to do nothing, which makes me feel calmer and less cluttered on the inside