So, you’ve taken the first step to letting go of “stuff” and consumer addiction and you’ve completed your first “stuff purge.” Good for you! But like any other addiction that you move beyond in your life (or even big, life-improving changes that you make), the real danger zone is in the time right after your stuff purge. Doing the actual purge, while it can be challenging, has the benefit of being an “event” that you probably amped yourself up for. Keeping yourself from building up more needless stuff after the purge can be harder. Once you’ve de-cluttered, for many people the natural instinct will be to refill the spaces that are now empty with stuff.
We’re here to help, though! Here are four tips for keeping the “stuff” out of your newly cleared space.
Visualize Where You’ll Put Things When You Buy Them
The compulsion to buy something, for most people, is a very “in-the-moment” compulsion. You see an item, and for whatever reason you need to possess it. It may be an instinctive reaction to a bargain or a discount, an emotional need that you’re trying to fill with objects or even just the societally imposed belief in needing more, more and more. One great trick that we’ve found for avoiding these habits if you’re trying to stay clutter-free is to stop before you make a purchase and actually visualize where in your home, office or living space you’re going to put the item. If you can’t visualize it in a space that makes sense (visualizing stacking it on the floor or stuffing it into a closet, for example, doesn’t make sense), then don’t buy it.
You can also use this trick with a “one-for-one” idea. If you’re going to buy something new, what are you going to get rid of to keep your “stuff” quota even? If there’s not an answer, re-think bringing the new item into your house.
Keep Making Ongoing Small Purges
You can stay de-cluttered by making stuff clearing and purging a more integrated part of your daily life. How? The best way is to pick one small space per week and commit to making sure it’s clear. We like to call this “clearing one drawer of stuff per week.” Of course, the target doesn’t need to be a drawer – it can be any space in your house that tends to build up clutter. Good examples include countertops, desks and areas of the floor where you tend to just pile things up. If you commit to one small, manageable space per week, you’ll always be in the process of keeping your life un-cluttered.
Don’t Let Holidays Ruin Your Efforts
A friend once said to us, “Holiday decorations are the enemies of empty space in a house.” This is so true! Over the years, most of us build up significant holiday clutter because we assign memories to holiday stuff. Use our tips for letting go of holiday clutter to help you keep on track with staying free of unneeded “stuff” in your home.
Follow Best Practices for Shopping and Ignoring the Consumer Machine
Of course, the most effective way to work your way to being uncluttered and stuff-free is to constantly celebrate being a better postconsumer! That doesn’t mean that you need to make large, drastic changes all at once. Learn to shop better by setting budgets, hard count limits and by using shopping lists. Learn to tune out the information overload so that you’re less exposed to and driven by the consumer media machine. Think about the role that stuff plays in your life and find deeper ways to get satisfaction. We’ve provided lots of free information in this article repository, and of course our interactive handbook or paperback self-guidance book can also help you on this journey.
Completing a stuff purge is an important part in letting go of consumer addiction, but it’s only one step. Begin your journey to maintaining the principles of buying less and living more. We promise you’ll feel better at the end.
Photo Credit: dansays via Flickr