There is no point decluttering if you will replace those things and end up back where you started. The key to maintaining your simplified spaces and wardrobes is preventing yourself from reaching that point again.
Every person has a different reason why they had the clutter in the first place. The trick is identifying what your pressure points are and establishing your specific prevention tactics. I will cover a variety of situations and you can take away what you need.
Be content with what you have
Comparisons lead us to bring things into our home and life – keeping up with the Joneses, thinking the things someone else has is why they are happier than us, allowing boredom or dissatisfaction to lead us to adding “new” stuff all the time.
Practice gratitude – I mentioned this as part of how I work to teach my kids to indulge their wants less and the same applies to us adults. A great antidote to bringing more stuff into your home is to acknowledge what you do have and give thanks for that abundance.
Know what you need and love and accept that this is okay – if you are happy with one used car do not feel pressured because “everyone else” in your circle drives flashier cars and has several in their driveway. Find your simple.
Live in the present
Trust the Universe to provide what you need – don’t hold onto things just in case and don’t accept everything offered to you out of fear that it is your only chance to have them.
Whether it is a budgetary issue (we can spend X dollars on Y every month no matter what else comes up) or space issues (once this DVD drawer is full we cannot buy any more DVDs until we sell or give away what we no longer love) set yourself limits that you do not compromise on. Make the limits reflect the life you want to lead and how you want your space to be so that you will want to stick to the limits. Saying you will only have X amount (ie 2 white shirts) because a book recommends it will not work for you if you tend to live in / love / use X (if you wear white shirts most days then you might want to have 4).
Take a moment to pause and consider the bigger picture
Before you say yes to anything coming into your home or life stop and reflect. Don’t do it on autopilot, but be intentional. It may seem easier to say yes, but not in the long run if that item or obligation becomes a burden for you. Know your values, your goals and your vision and determine if this supports them or detracts from them. If you know your biggest goal is to have a family holiday this year pause and decide if that $30 is better spent on item X (it might be) or adding it to your holiday fund. When you keep the bigger picture in mind it can act as a clutter deterrant.
Take even longer before you buy new things
If shopping is a big issue for you (and you are not able to stay away from shopping centres) consider having a waiting period between desire and purchase. Keep a wish list where you note things you want to buy, but wait until an agreed upon date to review the list and see if you still want any of it after some reflection. Don’t buy in the moment.
Have a “do not buy” and/or “do not keep” list
If during the decluttering stage you found you have 7 pairs of black pants, 25 bath towels or enough shampoo to last the year add those items to a list that you carry in your wallet or your phone. If you found you have a stash of takeout containers, glass jars and rubber-bands to last two lifetimes send them straight to the bin or donate to someone who could use them like a teacher at school. Something draws you to these items over and over again and you might not even be aware half the time of how big your stash has grown – make yourself refer to your list regularly and break this habit.
Limit clutter gifts
If you don’t need anything let people know – they can give your kids money for their savings accounts / education fund, tell them you would love an experience or event gift like tickets to the movies or zoo, suggest charitable donations in your name.
If you have needs or wants let people know them. When Aunt Lucy asks what you want for your birthday don’t deflect with “nothing” if you know she will send you something anyway. Tell her you need some new towels and would love a gift voucher to Target.
Borrow rather than buy
Most home entertainment (DVDs, CDs, books, video game cartridges) these days can be hired cheaply or for free via libraries. Put in requests if you want something specific, otherwise browse and borrow regularly to keep your supplies fresh without adding anything to your home. If you only need an item rarely ask to borrow from a friend or family member (ie special tool or craft supply) or buy it together to share. On this same path are swaps – you can organise swaps with friends or neighbours for everything from clothes to entertainment to toys to basically anything that can be bought! Add some snacks and drinks and make it an afternoon or evening of fun.
Additional posts to support clutter prevention and maintenance:
Challenge this week: Identify what your clutter issues are and devise a plan to prevent it coming back or getting worse. What can you do from today to prevent clutter?
Find your simple,
Link up for week 23 (or any SYL week you have blogged about) and take a few minutes to visit the other linked up blogs.
Image credit: cluttered laundry by flickr user puuikibeach