In a world of 'throwaway fashion', big box deals and Black Friday madness, we are officially drowning in stuff.
According to the LA Times
, there are 300,000 items in the average American home. And
UCLA reported that
3.1% of the world's children live in America, but they own 40% of toys owned globally (more "stuff" statistics on the
Becoming Minimalist Blog
All of that stuff is affecting us. It affects our children and their behaviors, it affects our ability to function at home and at work, and it affects our happiness. It is the reason why people call us to hire a professional organizer!
So what can be done about it? Decluttering is a great start. (Check out this blog post:
6 Tips to Make Any Organizing Project Successful
.) But decluttering will not solve your stuff problem if you do not address WHY it is coming into your home and HOW to keep that from happening in the future. Here are my tips for reducing incoming stuff after you have decluttered.
- Assign a home for everything. When items have a home, it is much easier to determine when a NEW item is extraneous. If you go to put the new item away where it would naturally go and there is no space (or four more of the same thing), you will be forced to really think about whether you need it. You will also be much more aware of what you have when you are out shopping and trying to convince yourself that you need something.
- Place a Goodwill or other donation box in a prime location. Mine is right near the exit so that it is easy to take out on a regular basis. If you have small children, we recommend placing it out of sight and reach. Make it as easy as possible to move unwanted things out of your home as quickly as possible.
- Start saying no. We have a tendency to absorb items from other people that we think we might need. If an item is free, it seems silly to say no to it, right? But remember that that item is NOT free. It costs to store, clean and organize it once it comes into your home. Saying no is hard at first, but it gets much easier as you get used to it.
- Ask yourself the right questions. Some examples could be: how is my life being enriched by this item? Is the item worth the space it is taking up? Would I pay full price for this item in a store today? Asking yourself questions before you accept a "free" item from someone or going shopping will help you to keep the clutter from coming back.
- Examine your habits. Our habits play a big role in how we manage stuff. Keeping things tidy, taking out the donation box, tossing out expired food from the pantry: these are all habits that can help us to keep our stuff minimal. For more tips on creating healthy organizational habits, check out our blog on the topic.