In this post: Clutter seems to accumulate overnight. Check out the reasons you have clutter, plus how to prevent it below. 

Much like we don’t gain those extra 10 or twenty pounds overnight, clutter takes time to accumulate…and yet at the same time, it seems to sneak up on us. Here are the reasons you have clutter…

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The 7 Reasons You Have Clutter and How to Prevent It!

Many of us end up with a houseful of clutter for the same reasons. But we can prevent it from accumulating. Check out the reasons clutter accumulates plus how to prevent it below. 

1. Bargains

Most of us love the thrill of getting a deal on something.

I mean really, is there a better feeling than finding your favorite name brand pair of jeans, that fit you perfectly, for 75% off? Or getting four snow tires for the price of two when it’s time to switch over for winter (talk about #adulting). Or stumbling upon a 4-liter bottle of your favorite shampoo at the mall for the same price as the tiny bottle at your salon.

BUT that bargain hunting thrill can get us into trouble if we buy things ONLY because they were a steal.

Let me clarify.

If you need a new pair of jeans, by all means, buy the pair that’s on sale for 75% off. Same goes for the winter tires and the shampoo.

BUT if you already have 10 pairs of perfectly fitting jeans, you don’t need another pair! And if you have brand new snow tires in the garage from the end of season sale last year, there’s no reason to buy the 2 for 1 deal right now. And if you have a pixie cut like I used to, it’s going to take you a long time to use up four liters of shampoo.

When you’re shopping, think logically about your needs, about your space. Never buy anything JUST because it was on sale.

2. Hand-me downs

Whether you grew up in a big family or not, most of us have some sort of experience with hand-me-downs. If you were lucky, your older sibling (or family friend) had great style and the clothes you got were awesome. Lots of us weren’t so lucky.

Anyway, fast-forward to adult life and some of us are still getting hand-me-downs from friends and family. Maybe it’s not clothes, but instead it’s furniture, or dishes or tools. Whatever.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hand-me-downs at all! We’ve both given and received some awesome hand-me-downs.

But if you’re house is full of clutter because you’ve accepted every hand-me-down ever offered to you, even if you didn’t need it, then that’s a problem. Likely due to a scarcity mindset in which you worry that you may not have enough of that thing later, so you’d better accept it now. You need to work on that issue. Because I guarantee it’s affecting more than just the clutter issues in your home.

You need to stop accepting every hand-me-down that is offered to you. Only graciously accept IF it’s something you genuinely need or if it is better quality/fit than something you already have (then you need to get rid of the old something, so you’re not accumulating more clutter).

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3. Trash

Sometimes we just get so worn out and busy with life, that we inadvertently hold onto trash – and then ignore it because we feel so overwhelmed.

I get it. Sometimes life just gets whacko! (I’m looking at you, 2020.)

But you do need to take the time now to clear out any trash and then set up the systems that will help you keep it out going forward! 

4. Aspirational

Some of us have clutter in our home that is the result of things we’ve collected because we “wannabe” something.

Like that summer you wanted to take up yoga to help you reduce stress, but you gave up after a few tries because all that “om-ing” and contorting your poor body made you feel more stressed. Or when you thought it would be fun to have Fondue Fridays every week and then figured out half your friends weren’t eating dairy.

And there you are now with all the yoga mats and blocks and fondue pots and sticks just collecting dust.

Listen, we all aspire to try new things and be better people. There’s nothing wrong with that at all! But if you have tried something and decided it’s just not for you, and you haven’t used the things that go with that aspiration in long while, it’s time to clear them out of your home.

You’ll reduce your clutter – and your stress -no yoga required!

(I have nothing against yoga or fondue, by the way. If you love them, awesome! Those were just examples!)

5. Gifts

This one can be a little trickier because this kind of clutter piles up from the best of intentions (much like the aspirational type of clutter). You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I get it. I don’t either.

But honesty – in a kind manner, of course – is really the best policy.

I mean, if people are giving you gifts that are not useful or wanted, it’s not just cluttering up your house…it’s wasting their money too.

Have the hard conversations with family and friends about what you do and don’t like. And take the initiative and ask them about their preferences too. They may just appreciate it as much as you do!

6. Stocking up/holding onto things “just in case”

This one sort of goes hand-in-hand with the bargain-hunting/scarcity mindset clutter. Stocking up or holding onto everything just in case isn’t helpful and is stressing you out for no good reason.

Of course, recent events have shown us that it doesn’t hurt to have a reasonable number of consumables like toilet paper, food and disinfectant on hand at any given time. But there’s no need to stock up on things you wouldn’t actually use in a few months’ time.

7. “I’ll get to it later”

This type of clutter is usually the result of things that have sentimental meaning, which can make them that much harder to go through. But, my friend, you will need to tackle this sooner or later, to free yourself from your stuff. And having a cleaner, tidier home sooner is definitely better than later.

It is said that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is now. I believe the same idea applies to decluttering your home.

My advice for clearing out sentimental clutter is the same as many other people’s -tackle the non-sentimental stuff first. Once you have some “getting rid of” under your belt, you’ll feel more inspired and capable of decluttering. Which will make the sorting through the sentimental things at least a little easier. 

If your “I’ll get to it later” clutter is just a matter of putting off decluttering, consider this your gentle kick in the rear to get it done already. Your clutter is not serving you! Set a timer, and just get it done already!

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More Decluttering Ideas:

Do any of these ring a bell for you as reasons you have clutter? 

shannon photo and sig oct 2022