How to Maintain a Clutter-free Home

decluttering May 03, 2024
clutter-free bedroom with French doors looking at green mountains


Does it feel like you declutter, only to find yourself cluttered again in no time? This is so common! The best way to stop this cycle is to cultivate a mindset, and embrace habits, that prevent new clutter from accumulating. ⠀


“The goal is not to be an expert at decluttering, but rather to break the habit of accumulating clutter in the first place.” 


We are always changing–our interests, hobbies, and styles shift over time. Even who we are as people–our values, purpose, and character–also evolves. It's important that our homes reflect and support our ever expanding selves. For this reason, there will always be some degree of “stuff” moving in and out of our lives. That said, once you have decluttered your home from top to bottom, and addressed each and every object, you should never go back to being as cluttered as you were before... even with the influx of some new stuff. The key to staying clutter-free is to embrace habits and cultivate a mindset that prevents clutter.⠀⠀


Habits and Mindset to Prevent Clutter:

  1. Declutter top to bottom. Make sure you declutter thoroughly, addressing each and every object in your home. Experiencing how good it feel to live in a clutter-free home will motivate you to keep it that way! Know that sometimes this process can take 6 months to a year. In the meantime, you can start embracing the other habits to prevent clutter–this way you aren’t bringing more in as you're decluttering!
  2. Ask before you buy: The key to preventing clutter is to be mindful about the choices you make outside your home. Refuse to take anything home that is not loved or useful, whether it is a freebie, a flyer, or something you purchase. Ask yourself, is this loved or useful? Do I have something that fulfills the same purpose? Do I have the space for it? Is it worth my time and energy? Is it beautiful? Is it healthy? Is there something I would rather use this money for?
  3. Keep a wish list: If you write items on your list that you want to buy (or add them to an online shopping cart or favorites list) you will often satisfy the need to have it. We sort of “trick” our subconscious into feeling like we already have it. The feeling of “I have to have it” subsides because the act of writing it down makes tangible. We are then able to be more clear-headed when we make a choice at a later time.  Part of our desire to have things has to do with control – we want to be able to have it more than we actually want to have it.
  4. Use your intuition: Your body knows when you feel good about a purchase or not. Do you feel a sinking regret as you leave the store or are you completely satisfied?
  5. Something in, something out: When you bring something new in your home, check to see if it might replace something similar that, in light of the new item, is no longer as loved or useful. This way you can maintain a clutter-free equilibrium.
  6. Get in the habit of making choices: Clutter results from indecision. The choice is simple... am I keeping this? And if so, where? 
  7. Create systems: Anticipate what type of items come into your home and create a system to manage it. Is it children's artwork or schoolwork? Outgrown clothes or toys? Are you involved in creative projects? Do you tend to accumulate paper? If you can make a choice immediately (for example recycling junk mail on your way from the mailbox into your house) that is ideal– otherwise, have a plan in place. For example, display the artwork for a period of time, photograph, recycle or store the keepers in an already labeled bin. 
  8. Designate storage for temporary items: Often our homes feel cluttered because of “temporary” items. These are things  that are only in our home for a short period of time, such as mail, packages, tickets, invitations, gifts, projects, or things we plan to donate; we don’t designate a home for them and then they leave our space feeling cluttered. Arrange a bin or bag in a closet for donations, have an in/outbox for mail and packages, a folder or inbox for temporary paper items, a basket for school or art projects etc. 
  9. Maintain: Plan for daily, weekly, and seasonal decluttering. For most of us, no matter how simplified we get, there will still be things coming in and out of our homes that we need to take care of. You could incorporate a daily or weekly check into your routine... and of course it's natural to have a more thorough check-in once every few months in preparation for a new season. 

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