Stop Clutter Before it Starts

Once you start decluttering your house you need to make a plan to stop clutter from coming in so you don’t end up in an endless cycle.

When I started decluttering my house I started the following 4 things right away.

I limited incoming mail

  • I spent less than a half hour turning all of my bills to electronic delivery.
  • I opened all of my junk mail as soon as I got it over the course of a month and followed the necessary steps to be removed from their mailing list. This took about 5-10 minutes a day and I am still seeing results over 5 years later
  • I had some mail that I periodically received for the previous owner of my home so I took a couple minutes when I received those and responded with a note informing the sender that the person they were seeking no longer lived at our address.

Within the first month I noticed a huge decrease in the amount of mail we received and it was much easier to manage as soon as I picked it up from the mailbox. My system that I started, and still use today, consists of me bringing in the mail and opening everything and sorting it immediately. I either read it and recycle it after marking down important dates on my calendar (informational pieces), read it and display it (cards from family and friends), read it and follow up (rsvp), read it and put it with my budget folder to take care of on Friday (anything I need to pay).

I shopped using my need list

I started two lists; one for things I needed (mostly food and hygiene supplies) and one for things I wanted. Once a week or so I would go to the store to buy the things I needed. Instead of making impulse decisions at the store I only bought what was on my list. The want list became gift ideas I shared with my family before my birthday or Christmas. Although, more often then not, many things I added to my want list would be deleted the next time I took a look at it. I still use these lists but I don’t nearly put as much stuff on my want list. In addition to having a want list for myself I also keep them for my husband and three girls. It makes birthday and holiday shopping stress free because I just need to check my list for the best thing and make a quick trip to the store to grab it!

In order for something to make the cut on my want list it has to be something that:

  • I have space for
  • I would use/enjoy frequently

Currently on my want list I have a wooden serving tray. I would store this on top of my microwave and I would use it when I served a meal outside so I could bring out all the necessary items at once. I also have hiking boots on the list. My last pair of boots were beyond repair so I threw them out so there is a vacancy where they were located. I would use these when we go camping or on day hikes. I didn’t put these on my need list because we don’t do a lot of hiking in the winter and this is a good gift idea for my husband since Christmas and my birthday are coming up. 😁

I requested experiences and consumables

Since my want list started to shrink I started adding experiences or consumable items to my gift ideas and I found that giving and receiving these are way nicer then getting some random gift. Here are some things I have given or received over the past several years:

  • Couples massage
  • Magazine subscription
  • Locally grown foods
  • City tour
  • Community theater tickets
  • Dinner gift cards
  • Sports event tickets
  • Snack box
  • Comedy club gift card

I gave up shopping as a hobby

If you read my About page you know that shopping was my hobby before my decluttering journey started. Once I started using my want/need lists, my time spent at the store quickly decreased because I wasn’t going to the store anymore to browse. I went with a purpose and was in and out. With the extra time, I started to read more, play more games with my husband and kids, and I started to work in my yard more. I had always enjoyed doing yard work, but now that I had more time, I started to learn more about the plants I had and I was able to get creative with my flowerbeds.

What have you done to stop clutter from entering your home? If you haven’t started yet, what new things do you notice coming in the most?

Published by Suzanne- Happily Decluttered

Hi!! My name is Suzanne and I live in central PA with my husband and three girls. I love yoga, pickleball, camping, spending time with my family, and decluttering!

3 thoughts on “Stop Clutter Before it Starts

  1. Great post, I totally agree about experiences or consumable items for gifts 👌
    I now digitise my receipts straight away, a quick photo and they are done 👍

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