One of the biggest threats to decluttering your life is probably something that very few people think much about. We look around our houses and despair at all of the things that are lying around, without a home, taking up space and wonder how we are going to begin tackling the problem. What we don’t realise is that the problem never started in our homes at all. The problem began out in the world at the shops, our friends houses, in the homes of our extended family. The one thing that is preventing you from decluttering your life is bringing more ‘stuff’ into the home.
How many times have you popped out to the shops to grab a couple of items and ended up with so much more than you planned to purchase? We need a new beach towel and end up with a tote bag and flip-flops to go with it. We go out to buy a new lipstick and buy a new mascara and foundation while we are there. We go to the supermarket for bread and milk and leave with a trolley full of impulse buys.
On top of that are all of the packaging we end up with when we buy something. We buy a six pack of soap and find we have the plastic wrapper, cardboard box and then each soap wrapped individually inside that. We want a pair of shoes and we end up with stuffing paper, a shoe box and then a plastic bag to carry it in.
All of these things add to the amount of stuff in our homes that needs to be managed.
The challenge therefore is to be aware of the little things that we collect, often without realising. Make an effort to stop bringing these items into your home and you will begin to notice a huge difference in the amount of clutter you need to manage.
Decluttering your life will be easier if you reduce these things…
Make a concerted effort to create a list of all of the items you really need to buy when you are at the shops. Try very hard to stick to that list and not get caught up in the clever marketing that the stores are doing to encourage you to spend and buy more than you actually need. Keep a list by the fridge or on your phone so you can add to it easily when something comes up during the week. You will not only save on the clutter but you will save money too.
Free Magazines/brochures/ recipe books
All of these things look great when we see them in the shops. We think that we will take them home and read through them at some stage. In reality though, does that ever happen? I know I rarely, if ever, actually read these free things. It is almost as if we are hard wired to collect something because it is free. Ask yourself, ‘If I had to pay for this, would I still want it?’ If the answer is no, leave it for someone else to take home.
Samples of makeup, beauty or hair care products
We often come across free samples of beauty products that can be very tempting to collect. Again, it’s free so we take it but do we ever use it? Usually these things are small plastic containers or bags with the tiniest amount of product in them anyway. I have my regular products that I like and I know I will never purchase the full product of one of these so I now no longer even think about accepting these freebies.
Plastic shopping bags
You know they are bad for the environment and that you probably should take your own reusable bag out shopping with you. Why is it that nine times out of ten we forget to do that? They say that the average use of a plastic shopping bag is 30 minutes. When you think about it, that seems about right. From the time we put the item in the bag to the time we return home and then throw the bag away, 30 minutes about does it. Consider a reusable bag instead. Reduce your clutter and help the environment at the same time,.
I bought my son a shirt to wear to his school formal this week and it was bagged up still on its plastic coat hanger. Really, why do I want that? I wasn’t quick enough to ask the shop keeper to keep it and ended up bringing it home. I realise that this is just a little thing but it’s the little things done regularly that add up to a cluttered mess that needs to be managed.
When I buy a new pair of shoes I hate having to then lug the shoe box home and dispose of it. I don’t store my shoes in these boxes and I just have to throw them out. Admittedly, when my children were younger I kept as many as I could find because they were always using them for some craft or other but they are well past that age now. Lately I have been handing them back to the shop and simply putting the shoes into my own carry bag.
Store loyalty cards
It seems as if every store has one of these. They can be handy because we can get good discounts by using them. The problem arises in that I certainly don’t want to have to carry them all around just on the off chance I will want to use one. Now I use an app on my phone (Stocard) to save them digitally so I have them if I need them but the physical item is not cluttering up my purse or home in any way.
Gifts from well meaning friends and family
How often have you gone to someone’s house and come home with a pile of stuff you didn’t really want? Older family members in particular seem to be expert at gifting us items that we don’t want and will never use but feel obligated to take. It will probably be difficult the first time but a firm, thank you but no thank you, needs to be said sooner rather than later.
There may be a number of other things you collect, without really thinking about it, that end up as clutter. I challenge you to take a moment to stop and reflect upon whether they are useful, will add something positive to your life or simply end up as another item of clutter that needs to be dealt with sometime in the future.
Do these things and you will be well on the way to decluttering your life.