Having clutter in our homes is overwhelming and stressful. But have you wondered how clutter comes into our homes in the first place?
What if I told you that one way to reduce the accumulation of clutter is to learn how to stop clutter from entering your house in the first place?
Stopping new clutter at the source (the decision to bring an item into your home) can help tremendously while you tackle existing clutter. Using my technique can also save you money, and help you achieve your financial goals! Who doesn’t want more financial stability?!
First, let’s learn what clutter is. I define clutter as anything in your life that impedes movement. It could be a physical object, such as something on the floor that you have to physically move around. It could be an emotional object, something that makes you stop what you’re doing to think about it or worse, feel negative about it. Emotional clutter can impede movement when it doesn’t allow you to move forward in your day.
Anytime that you bring something new into your life, it has the potential to become clutter.
There are four questions I want you to ask yourself BEFORE you make a purchase or decide to bring something into your home. This can help you clarify if the item you’re bringing into your house will eventually turn into another piece of clutter, OR if it’s something that you’ll actually use and you’ll love it in the future.
Question #1: Do I have a specific space for this in my house already?
Does this item have a defined space in your house? Before bringing anything new into your house, consider if you actually have room for it. Is there a spot you can easily access this item? Do you know exactly where it’s going to live?
When we have an item in our house that we can never seem to find, and it doesn’t have a specific spot to live, then that item is more likely to become clutter. Anytime you have to stop and think “Where did I put that?” That’s impeding movement. That’s clutter.
Before you bring a new item into your house, make sure it has a defined space. Know where you’re going to store it and make sure it is easily accessible.
Do you have the money to spend on this item right now? If you really want something and you’ve determined you have space for it, but you have to put it on your credit card because you don’t have the cash to pay for it upfront, this could potentially become a piece of clutter.
How? Because by purchasing this item you’re impeding financial movement. How is it going to feel when you get your credit card statement? Is it going to feel positive or negative? Will this purchase help you achieve your financial goals? Can you justify this purchase with your debt to savings ratio? If you do not really have the money for it, then this purchase can turn into financial clutter and impede movement with your financial goals.
Question #3: Does this have a function or a purpose in my life right now?
Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Or do I want this? Is this going to be useful to me? Do I have something else at home that I could use if I didn’t have this? What is the function or purpose of this in my life?
Clearly define the answers to these questions, and that will make it easier to understand WHY you want to make this purchase. If the item doesn’t have a clear purpose in your life, it will most likely turn into — you guessed it, clutter!
Question #4: Do I like or love this item?
Sometimes, an item may not have a specific function or purpose, but it does make you really happy. This could be a legitimate reason to bring it into your life.
But if you love it, and it doesn't have a purpose and it doesn’t have a designated spot in your home, or if you can’t afford it right now, then most likely it’s going to become a burden for you to have in your home. It’s going to become clutter.
Think of the word CUTE. How many times have you purchased something and thought, “This is so cute!!” or “Isn’t it cute?!”
I want you to think of this acronym:
A Clutter Bootcamp member shared this acronym and I think it’s a brilliant reminder when you find yourself using the word “cute” to describe an item.
If you catch yourself saying “Oh it’s so cute! I want to buy it.” I want you to remember this acronym and ask yourself the four questions before you purchase it or bring it into your home. Make sure you think it through so you can decide if it is something that will impede movement or be a burden in the future; or if it will actually be something useful and you love it and you can afford it right now.
If you’re not sure how to tackle clutter problems, I encourage you to join Clutter Bootcamp. There is a whole community in the Prioritize Your Sanity group who are learning how to stop the clutter from coming in, and they’re ready to support you!
Subscribe to my YouTube channel for my weekly podcast, “It’s All Clutter,” to follow more tips in my Downsizing series!