Clever Ways to Stop Clutter in Its Tracks

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Have you recently decluttered your house and are looking to keep it that way?  Or maybe you’re still in the decluttering process and want to control clutter from coming into the house in the meantime.  Whatever your reason, the important thing is to stop clutter before it can enter your home.

To stop clutter, you need to change your mindset and habits.  These clutter-control tips will get you into the groove of clutter-free living.

One In, One Out Rule

This is a simple concept that can really stop clutter.  When you bring in an item into the house, then one item must leave.  

If you’re still working on clearing out the clutter then get rid of two or more items for every one you bring in.

The key is to not cheat and actually stick to the rule. Make sure you get rid of the item immediately so you don’t forget to do.  Better yet, decide what has to go BEFORE you even bring a new item in.

Make Decluttering Part of Your Routine

Once you’ve decluttered your house, you’ll just need a little bit of maintenance to stop clutter and keep your house clutter-free.  

Decluttering can take quite of bit of time when you first start.  But once you’ve completed a major overhaul you’ll only need to spend a few minutes surveying your belongings and discarding what you no longer need, like or use.  

Related: How to Get Rid of Your Stuff After Decluttering

At the end of a season, take a quick look at your closet and drawers and pull out anything you didn’t wear.  

Go through toys with your kids (if they are older than a toddler) before their birthdays and/or Christmas.  

When you go to grab a baking dish, do a quick scan of the cabinet to see if there are any unused items.  Do the same for any cabinet or drawer you open.

Clean out fridge and pantry the night before garage goes out.

Go through mail daily and bills and other follow up paperwork weekly.  

For less used spaces, go through them 2-4 times a year.  Set up reminders to help you keep track.

Stop Clutter.  Clutter free

Be Intentional About What Comes In

There are a ton of no-spend challenges to help you save money and stop clutter.  My friend Ashley, offers great tips for a no-spend challenge. that can really help you gain perspective about your needs and you’re spending habits.   

And while I personally have not participated in a no-spend challenge, I have been more intentional about what comes into our house.  Do I really love that sweater? Do we really need another candle? Do I really need the hand-me-down Christmas ornaments from my Grandma?  

If you’ve been through the decluttering process then you likely came across items you didn’t feel you got your full use out of, like the pants you decided you didn’t like how they fit after you got them home but forgot to return. While you don’t need to feel guilty about wasting money and space on those items, you do need to learn from it.  

Think a little longer before you bring something into your house.  Really think about if you actually have a need and a place for the item.  And don’t forget about the one in, one out rule. Determine what needs to go BEFORE you even bring a new item into the house.  

Free Stuff Doesn’t Get A Pass

Just because an item is free doesn’t mean you need it.  Free or super cheap stuff can be a blessing and a curse.  It’s fantastic if you really need it and will use it; it’s clutter if you don’t.  

Treat the free stuff the same as if you were paying for it.  Don’t let it in unless you need it, will use it AND have a place for it.  

I used to have a job where I was sent free stuff pretty frequently.  The problem? Most of it was stuff I didn’t like, didn’t need or wouldn’t use.  At first, I brought it home if I thought it was something my husband would like. Then I realized that one of two things would happen.  1 – He would take it because he’s a sucker for free things. 2 – It would sit around until we figured out what to do with it.

The end result was the same either way – it became clutter that we eventually got rid of without ever using it.  I finally wised up and stop bringing the free stuff home unless it was really something we would use.

Go Paperless

Paper clutter is a problem in so many homes.  The flow of paper into your house seems never ending but there are a couple of steps you can take to control paper clutter.  

  1. Stop junk mail
  2. Opt-in for electronic delivery for bills and statements for as many accounts as you can

Find out how to eliminate paper clutter forever with the steps to take to reduce paper coming in, what papers you can get rid of and organization systems that work for the paper you keep.  

Organizing Systems

Clutter will start to accumulate if you don’t have a place for everything and a planned place for everything that comes into your house.  Trouble-shoot problem areas to find organizing solutions that will work for your space.

Check out Essential Home Organizing Tips for organizing rules for any room in your house.  These tips will help you organize your house in a way that will help you actually keep it organized.  

Set Up a Decluttering Box

Designate a spot or multiple spots in your home to put sell and/or donate boxes. It stops clutter by making it easy to have a place to put unwanted stuff.  And when one box fills up, sell or donate those items.

I have one box on my main floor and one on the second floor.  We are constantly getting rid of kid’s clothes as they outgrow them so having a donation box upstairs is vital.  

There are two key points here:

  1. Have a plan for dealing with unused stuff- whether it’s a storage box to pack away one kid’s clothes until the next one grows into them or a donation bag/box or whatever fits your needs
  2. Don’t let the sell/donation boxes become your new form of clutter.  Get rid of the box as soon as it’s full. Sell your stuff online, instead of waiting to have a garage sale.  Drive the box to a charity drop-off point if you keep forgetting to call to schedule a pickup.

Stop Clutter - Donation box filled with clothes

Get a Handle on Unfinished Projects

Tried making jewelry and didn’t like it?  

Did you buy knitting supplies two years ago but haven’t taken the time to learn how to knit?

Do you love to paint but you bought more paint and brushes than you could ever use?

Did you start a home improvement project but got frustrated or busy and didn’t finish it?    

Trying new things is great. Having a hobby your love is also great.  But holding on to supplies you are never going to use is not so great.  

The same can be said for home improvement or decorating projects.  Leaving a project unfinished or hanging on to old furniture just causes clutter.  

To stop clutter, sell or donate unused items and finish your project so tools and supplies aren’t laying around.  

My mother-in-law loves to sew and quilt but she’s accumulated more fabric and patterns than she could ever use in her lifetime.  She’s been selling the fabrics and patterns she knows she’ll never use at quilting retreats.

Does your hobby have some type of meet-ups where you can sell items?  If not, there are plenty of other places where you can sell, donate or recycle them.  

Make a plan to finish home improvement projects.  

Having a hard time finding time to complete your projects?  Check out Overcoming Time Wasters and Create a Schedule and Master Your To-Do List.  

Stop Clutter Recap

  1. When one item comes into the house, get rid of at least one item.
  2. Schedule quick decluttering sessions into your schedule.  Or develop the habit of looking for unused items every time you’re in a cabinet, drawer or closet.
  3. Be mindful about what comes into the house.  Spend a little time up front deciding if you’ll actually use an item before buying it.  The same rule applies to free stuff, too.  Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you need to take it or keep it.
  4. Reduce the amount of paper coming into your house by stopping junk mail and signing up for electronic bills and statements.
  5. Establish organizing systems that actually work for you and your family.
  6. Set up a decluttering box in your house so there’s always a spot to put unwanted stuff.  When a box is full donate or sell the items.
  7. Take care of unfinished projects and be realistic about the supplies you need for hobbies.

How do you stop clutter in your home?  Have you tried any of these tips?  I’d love to hear about your experience.  Comment below.

Clever Ways to Stop Clutter - cluttered shelves

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