If you’ve been on a journey to a simpler life, or even if you are just getting started, you’ve likely experienced clutter creep. It works something like this:
- You successfully declutter a room and vow never to clutter the countertops again.
- The next day you revel in your beautiful clutter-free space.
- A few days later you have friends over and they bring you a thank you gift.
- You place it on the counter.
- Your kids bring home their art projects and holiday gifts from school.
- On the counter they go.
- At the grocery store, you meander down the festive, twinkling, holiday aisle and pick up a few things.
- You move the art projects over to make room for the candles and ornaments.
- Fast forward to January and you’re back in the clutter wondering where your lovely clutter-free space went.
Clutter creep happens over days and weeks and years, and unless you are vigilant, you might not notice it until it’s a problem. Clutter creep is slow, silent and sneaky and loves to appear when your defenses are down. If you are busy, rundown or on a shopping bender, clutter creep will make it’s move. It will be a subtle move, and then another and another until you are ready to send your audition tape in for an episode of Hoarders.
Clutter creep is on the move all year long, but it especially loves December. It’s the one time of the month that you are most likely to have the defenses are down trifecta. (busy, rundown and on a shopping bender all at once)
Your Clutter Creep Weapons
These weapons will make fighting clutter creep easier and sometimes even enjoyable:
The easiest way to combat clutter creep is taking time each day, even if it’s just 5 minutes to be aware of your surroundings. Notice if a specific area of your home is becoming cluttered and take action immediately.
When something new comes into your home, find something else to send out. For instance, if a neighbor brings you a holiday gift, donate another item in your home. If you don’t think you’ll use the holiday gift, donate that. You don’t have to wait until January to decide what stays and goes. Control clutter creep item by item. One by one.
Place a donate box by the door. If you want it to look more festive, decorate it for the holidays. Then, anytime you come across something that isn’t adding value to your life, drop it in the box. This isn’t permission to dump your husband’s favorite sweatshirt or children’s toys, but you can encourage your family to use the box for their personal items.
10 minute sweep
Invite your family to take part in a 10 minute sweep before bedtime. Turn up the music and get a little crazy. Dance around and see who can pick up the most. Give one point for each item that is put away where it belongs. Add bonus points for any items that get tossed in the donate box.
No thank you
This weapon is not used nearly enough. It’s powerful! The holidays are a perfect time to say “no thank you”. Say no to:
- that little voice that urges you to buy one for you when you buy one for them
- white elephant or other gift swaps
- irresistible sale offers
- department store mailing lists
- more decorations
- more gifts
- more parties
Choose what is most important to you
We are used to having it all or at least thinking that we can. Instead, make a choice and prioritize what is most important to you. You do have a choice! If you have trouble making decisions, use these guidelines: choose people over stuff and time over money. You’ll rarely be disappointed.
Clutter won’t go away on its own, and it often creeps in easier than it creeps out, but living clutter-free offers a life with less stuff and more time, space, money, and happiness. Living clutter-free is worth the fight especially if you are well armed.
One more weapon in your fight against clutter
I wrote Clutterfree with my friend Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and I’m happy to announce that it’s available for your Kindle today! This book is a great weapon for your fight against clutter because it doesn’t just teach you how to get rid of it, but also why you have it in the first place and how to maintain a happy clutter-free life.
3 sections and 23 chapters guide you through the most important parts of being clutter free.
- Emotion. Understand why you have clutter.
- Action. Learn how to get rid of clutter.
- Maintain. Enjoy your clutter-free life.
quick note: You don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books. They can be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android.