Evidently the fourth week of March is National Clutter Awareness Week. (Not sure who makes these up, but thank you!) You’re probably keenly aware of the clutter you already have, but this week let’s focus on awareness of how to prevent accumulating more.
There are three kinds of preventable clutter that accumulate in your life:
- Purchased Clutter. Obviously, this is stuff that you pay money to bring into your home. Slankets (or Snuggies), new boots, season 2 Lost DVDs, magazines, groceries, and all that you spend your hard-earned cash to enjoy. Whether you are standing at the checkout in the store or you are clicking the checkout button online, be mindful as you open your wallet that almost everything you purchase ends up in your home or car or workplace, and it requires some kind of maintenance or attention. You will need to read it, recycle it, replace the batteries in it, fold it, store it, clean it, repair it, or just add it to your piles.
- Acquired Clutter. Sometimes “clutter happens.”This is physical stuff that you did not have to shell out cash to take home — you either inherited it, received it as a gift or hand-me-down, got it in the mail, brought it home from school or work, or grabbed it as a freebie giveaway item. Regardless of the source, remember you do have the choice of bringing in the door or not.
- Allowed Clutter. Time and communication clutter are invisible, not physically taking up space, but they are mentally cluttering your life and that can be just as bad. By not being a good steward of your time, you can allow too many commitments to burden you. (See previous post, “Overdoers Anonymous”) And by not managing your emails and phone calls, you allow them to crowd out time from more important tasks you could be doing.
Here are a few tips to help prevent purchased, acquired, or allowed clutter:
- If you check your mail at a community block of mailboxes or a post office box and they already have a trash can there, stop right there and get rid of any unwanted junk mail before you take it home.
- We have our wallet reminder sleeves you can download as a bonus item when you get our weekly newsletter — they have the five important Clutter Prevention Questions you should ask before purchasing anything. You can store your favorite credit or debit card in them as a first line of defense when you open your wallet to buy something!
- Consider alternative gift-giving arrangements in your family, especially in the holiday season. Just kids, no gifts, drawing names…be creative and don’t just buy for everyone because you always have before.
- Remember that people make their entire life’s work figuring out how to sell things to you, and they are VERY clever. Don’t fall for traps like “free gift with minimum purchase,” or “free shipping” if you were not already going to purchase the minimum number of items in the first place. Be a savvy shopper and be protective of your wallet.
- Along with ending telemarketing calls quickly and cleanly, be also aware of “friendly fire” phone calls — ones you actually enjoy but take up way too much of your time. If you must chat, get a headset and fold some laundry or clean something while you talk.
And finally, being organized is in itself a great way to prevent further clutter. If you have visibility and knowledge of what you already own, you are unlikely to purchase duplicate or similar items by mistake. I am glad we are having this “awareness” week because as they say, awareness of a problem is the first step in fixing it. If you can be more mindful of what you purchase, acquire, and allow and realize that you always have a choice … you are halfway there!
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