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Finally organized? Great! But how will you keep it that way?

by respaced on August 5, 2010

Whether you are clearing out the clutter in your home now or have already completed your decluttering, you may want to think about clutter recovery. Some professional organizers call this “maintenance.” It’s the behaviors and methods you develop to keep clutter from returning to your home after your have successfully decluttered. Most people will find extraneous stuff start creeping back into their house if they don’t make some changes in their lives. Here are a few tips:

1. Don’t use the mall as a hangout, escape, playdate or walking venue. It’s more than likely that you will stop to look in a few stores, making it extremely likely that you will buy something you don’t need.

2. Severely limit garage sale purchases or avoid them altogether. I know, I know, my last post was about the joy of turning garage sale trash into treasures. But if are a former clutter-magnet whose journey to organization has been hard-fought, you might have greater long-term success if you just skip garage sales.

3. Be very careful about using shopping as a form of recreation. I won’t tell you not to — I would never know about cool little stores like Flutter and SCRAP if I never perused the boutiques myself, but you have to be strict with yourself. Keep a predetermined amount of cash with you and never use a credit card. Ask yourself if you really need the object and most of all where will you put it? And if possible, have the storekeeper hold the object for you for 24 hours so you can think about it. That way, you can be sure you are not buying out of boredom, loneliness or anxiety.

4. When people ask you want you want for your birthday/Christmas/etc, tell them tickets to events or a gift certificate to a spa or a restaurant. Have the grandparents buy the kids memberships to the zoo or museum or Itunes giftcards. Anything that’s not an object.

5. Put everything in its place at least once a week. You can do a big tidy-up on Saturday or tidy up a little bit every night, but the goal is to make sure that every object has a home and that no piles are allowed to accumulate.

Keeping clutter at bay is an ongoing challenge for all of us living in a consumer-driven culture where shopping is considered a hobby instead of an errand! But by keeping your wallet in your pocket and making a commitment to regularly put everything away, you can be the one in control.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne August 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm

#5, #5!!

I have spent so much time clutter-clearing, reorganizing, redecorating or just doing a deep-clean only to lose ground because I was then too burned out to do the maintenance.

I've learned to give myself permission for a day, or two AT MOST, where I am scot-free. After that, I am back in maintenance mode and remember that by doing a little here and there means no more having to do a lot later. After all, there's only so much later and there's always something else to do!

P.S. Typo alert:
4. When people ask [what] you want for


MaryJo August 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Oops! Thanks! And it's great that you have the self-discipline to give yourself a couple of days off the hook and then immediately get back on the wagon (how many metaphors can I mix in one sentence, I wonder:).


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