October 17, 2018

Stop Clutter from Creeping Back in with This Habit


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Image Source: Photo by Gades Photography on Unsplash

How do you stop clutter from creeping back into your home and/or office? This is a question I’m asked a lot and you might be wondering too. 

Have you spent hours, or a whole Saturday afternoon decluttering your home or office, organizing your papers and files, and tidying everything up just to realize a few weeks later (for some people a few days later) that it all is just as bad again as before?

What happened?

The reason for this is that you have not prevented the clutter from building up again. You have not changed the way you do things, you have not changed your habits, and therefore you get the same results as always. 

All month I am talking already about habits (here and  here). It’s almost like I am a little obsessed with it 😉 I am in good company, there is great quote by Jim Rohn, He says:

Motivation is what gets you started. Habits is what keeps you going. 

F.M. Alexander was even more clear, he said:

People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.

All good things are three, so here is John C. Maxwell's take on this: 

You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

In the last quote we can easily replace routine with habits, routines are habits, often automatic habits.

That is the secret and key to keep clutter from creeping back in, it's that simple: 

You need to change your daily habits to stop clutter

Specifically you need to establish only one habit:

You need to put things back where they belong.

The premise is of course, that all items you own actually do have a home, a place where they belong.

Often when I help clients organize their homes and offices it turns out that things don't have a home. They were purchased without any thought of where to keep them, and so they end up cluttering up the space. 

A place for everything and everything in its place

Every item you own in your office and/or in your house needs a home, a place where it can ‘live’ while you are not using it. Most people have chaotic offices or messy homes because they never think about where to put the items they own.

One more tip on finding the right ‘home’. Sometimes the items do have a home but it’s not a convenient place for us and that’s why we never put it there.

So think where you use this item most and then find a home close by so it’s easy and convenient to get the item and to put it away again.

Now that everything has a home, you can get into the habit of putting things back where they belongs after using them. If they have a place to be, there is no guessing, and it takes only a few minutes every day to put things away.

There is two parts to this habit of putting things away:

  • For some items it makes sense to put them away right after using them.
  • Other items it makes more sense to leave them out until the end of the work day and then put them away in a end-of-day-clean up

I know this sounds much simpler on paper than it actually is. You might have so many items without a home that you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. 

My suggestion is, start with items that you use a lot. This might sound counterproductive because you think, well I use them a lot so why bother putting them away?

This is backwards thinking! Because you use them a lot they need a home and you need to put them back into their home every.single.time.

By doing this, you will always know where you find these items, no frantically searching for it anymore, less stress, more peace!

Let me know in the comments below, can you implement this one habit right away or do you need to define homes for your things first? 

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