Why is it so darn hard to stay clutter free? You spend loads of time, maybe hours, days, even weeks or months, decluttering your home. You feel super accomplished! Then you wake up one day thinking, “Wait! Where did all this stuff come from?”.
I feel you, friend. I have been there. More than once.
Because the truth is, keeping clutter at bay is HARD for me. I am not naturally a minimalist type of person. Things, stuff, and (dare I say) JUNK are creature comforts. They remind me of happy times and they give me peace of mind. Until they don’t.
Clutter kind of creeps up on me. It’s all just stuff; useful and pretty. Until all of a sudden, there’s so much that it becomes overwhelming and frustrating and stressful.
12 Reasons You Can’t Stay Clutter Free
1. You declutter on impulse.
This is what happens when I get to that enough-is-enough point and do one huge declutter. I purge so much in such a short time frame that I don’t give enough thought to what I’m getting rid of. And that usually means I get rid of things I probably shouldn’t just because it was in my way, annoying me, and not in it’s correct place. Which leads me to replace those items, thus bringing more STUFF into the house.
2. You shop on impulse.
I am a reformed impulse shopper and boy do I know how easy it can be. You don’t even realize you are buying on impulse, because you play that little game with yourself where you tell yourself you NEED this thing, it’s something you’ve been looking for FOREVER, or it’ll be PERFECT for such-and-such purpose.
But how often do these impulse buys result in clutter?
3. You play the What-If game.
I’m a master what-iffer. I can convince myself to keep or buy anything playing this game.
What if I decide to start slicing veggies super-extra thin?? I’ll NEED that kitchen gadget to do that. What if we someday have a party where 100 people show up and we need all those extra glasses? Or if you’re my husband, what if I want to play my old cassettes again and don’t have a cassette player?? (Yes, that last one is real.)
4. You can’t pass up a good deal.
The end-caps are Target are such a big weakness of mine. Cute decor, genius storage solutions, fun coffee mugs! All with those amazing little red stickers that mean DISCOUNT.
But you know what? The last time I did a big purge, I donated a bunch of little knick-knacky things that just collected dust and made me hate dusting (even more than I actually do!). So it wasn’t really all that great of a deal to grab those adorable little pieces to add to my living room vibe afterall. They became clutter.
5. You are sentimental.
Sentimental attachment is hard to overcome, especially if you have children. Everything they do and create is so precious and special. And as they get older, they also become sentimental for their things. Unfortunately, sentimental objects can seriously add to clutter.
6. Part of you likes clutter.
This certainly does not apply to everyone. But I know myself, and part of me is drawn to cozy spaces with candles and photo frames and tchotchkes. There’s something homey and comforting about it.
I also bookshelves filled with books, and kitchen cabinets filled with bright shiny dishes and gadgets, and bathroom drawers filled with oils and creams and makeup. I don’t even wear that much makeup! These are just a few spaces that easily become overly cluttered for me because I do actually like a certain amount of clutter there.
7. You hate wasting money.
There is nothing worse that buying a replacement for something you JUST threw out. And this goes along with the “What if” game. It’s such a challenging balance to be a good steward of resources without irrationally hanging onto things just for the sake of possibly saving a few dollars down the road.
8. You hate wasting stuff.
So this is how you end up with a “perfectly good” cassette player in your basement. It’s such a waste to throw that out! You can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes as I type it because this is NOT an item I have a problem letting go of (can you tell I have just a little disdain for the cassette player??).
But I can’t judge, because I’ve been guilty of keeping things around just because it feels wasteful to throw it out. For example, I may or may not have kept an arsenal of candle jars under my kitchen sink with plans to clean them out and use them as cute little containers one day. They are such good jars, it would be a waste to throw them out! (wink.)
9. You don’t have time.
Or you don’t MAKE time. Because it’s not fun or it’s too hard. I get it! Decluttering is so easy to put on the back burner. There are so many other things I’d rather be doing at any given time, and I can easily rationalize why those other things are more important than spending time figuring out what can go and what can stay.
10. You didn’t communicate with your family.
Kids really need clear and concise boundaries if you want their help in controlling clutter. A 1-in-1-out rule is a good one to go by! When 1 new toy enters the house, 1 old toy leaves. Another good strategy is to give them containers that their stuff has to fit in. If their container gets full, they have to remove some old stuff to be able to fit new stuff. But if kids don’t know these guidelines or rules, they’ll never do this on their own.
11. Your family is not on board.
Have I mentioned I have a cassette player in my basement? Yeah, my husband is not on board with me when it comes to electronics clutter. He has a fascination with electronics. He even went to college for it.
Again, I can’t judge because I have my vices too. Like the books and kitchen gadgets and bathroom products. The best thing to do is to come to a middle ground where everyone can be satisfied. I bring up the cassette player, but in truth, I do so jokingly. It’s a piece of clutter I am not going to fight about, and it’s actually a little funny to me that he has kept it so long!
12. You only decluttered once.
What?! You mean I have to do it more than once?? Yep. In fact, your best bet is to schedule in some decluttering time on a regular basis. Weekly is ideal for me, but I don’t get to it that often. If I am disciplined, though, and get it done each week, it really doesn’t take that long and it isn’t impulsive so it’s actually very effective. You’ve GOT to be in the habit of decluttering if you want to stay clutter free. It’s the single most important part of the whole process.
The truth is, you can’t achieve a clutter-free life in an afternoon, or a week, or even a month. A clutter-free life is the result of intentional and continual decluttering. And the more you practice, the better you get, and the easier it becomes.
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