7 SIMPLE HABITS TO STAY CLUTTER-FREE
After you’ve invested the time and effort to declutter, the last thing you want is for clutter to build up again. But unless you change your habits, that’s exactly what’ll happen. Avoid the never-ending clutter/declutter cycle by developing these 7 simple habits to keep your space clutter-free once and for all.
#1) Bring Less In.
The most obvious way to reduce clutter is to bring less “stuff” into your space. A simple concept, but one that’s not always easy to practice.
I find it helpful to ask myself “does this new item support the life I’m trying to create?”. This makes me pause and really think about the item; whether I have space for it, and if not, whether I’m willing to make space for it.
It doesn’t mean I don’t buy new things; I definitely do. Rather, it makes me intentional about what I do buy. In the end, most items I initially pick up, don’t make the cut and get set back down.
#2) The One In/One Out Rule.
When you do get something new, follow the one-in, one-out rule. As the name implies, every time you bring something new into your space, you remove an existing item.
While it seems straightforward, there are two important keys to make this work.
First, the item to be removed must be similar in nature to the new one coming in: a shirt for a shirt, a book for a book, a toy for a toy etc. The system doesn’t work if you bring in a new pair of pants and let go of a coffee cup.
Second, you have to remove the existing item immediately when something new comes in. You may intend to do it “later”, but the reality is if it’s not done right away, it’s probably not getting done. Repeat this a few times and that’s how clutter builds up again.
#3) The 2-Minute Rule.
Also known as the “don’t put it down, put it away” rule, if a task takes less than 2 minutes, do it right away. Procrastination and small, uncompleted tasks, are the source of a lot of clutter.
By developing this one, simple habit, I guarantee you’ll reduce the amount of clutter in your spaces. So, recycle junk mail immediately, hang up your coat and put your shoes away when you get in the door, put clothes in the hamper or hang them back up when done with them and so on.
#4) The 10-Minute Tidy.
Do a 10-minute tidy at the end of each day. We’re not perfect and we won’t always follow the 2-minute rule. But, doing a quick sweep at the end of the day to return items to their proper homes, means you’ll avoid waking up to yesterday’s untidied space and feeling behind before the day even begins.
Make this habit easier by keeping a box or basket tucked away under a console table or in a closet to put everything in so you don’t have to make multiple trips. Even if you just corral the items into the box to be returned to their homes later, at least the space is tidy and everything is gathered in one spot.
#5) Create A Donation Box.
Create a donation box/basket for your home where you put items you no longer want or need RIGHT when you make that decision. Having a designated “home” for these items stops them from cluttering up your house and your mind (“Didn’t I already decided to get rid of that???”).
Just keep the box tucked away in a closet, garage or basement, and when it’s full, make a run to your favourite charity.
#6) Make Your Bed.
It’s such a small thing that takes less than a minute, but the benefits of doing it are huge.
It has the biggest impact on how organized your bedroom looks. And an organized bedroom means you start and end your day in a calm, tranquil space.
Additionally, making your bed can lead to increased productivity and a healthier mindset. In the The Power Of Habit, author Charles Duhigg describes how making your bed can be a “keystone habit” that kickstarts a chain of other positive behaviours and decisions throughout the day which can result in greater productivity and a better overall sense of well-being.
So, I repeat, make your bed!
#7) Perform Maintenance on Your Systems.
Check-in on your systems to make sure they’re still working optimally for you. Our needs and circumstances change over time (think baby, vs toddler, vs school-aged, vs teenager, as one example), which means our systems need to change over time too.
Often, all that’s required are small tweaks or changes. The key is to catch the need for change before the old system completely fails and you’re surrounded by clutter and having to start from scratch again.
Old habits won’t bring new results. To maintain the clutter-free space you worked hard to create, develop these 7 simple habits that will keep your space clutter-free now and always!
Still working on decluttering? Check out the other posts in this decluttering deep-dive series:
What’s your biggest obstacle to staying clutter-free? Let me know in the comments below.