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The Top 5 Causes of Clutter (And How to Prevent It)

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Kara
08.26.16

Photo: West Elm

Fact: A cluttered home means a messy home. Even worse, clutter can significantly contribute to our overall stress levels. As Peter Walsh, a professional organizer and writer, once said, “Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor – it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.”

But what exactly creates clutter in the first place, and what can we do to prevent it?

Here are five common causes of clutter, paired with easy solutions for change:

1. Recreational Shopping

We’ve all been guilty of buying a thing or two we don’t need – so much so, that this habit is the number one culprit of clutter in the home!

Solution: Stay out of stores and shopping malls unless you absolutely need to buy something. Before you go, look through your closet to remind yourself of what you already own. Do you really need another gray cardigan or pair of black flats? 

2. “Clutter Creep” Throughout the Week

You start Monday morning with a clean house, only to be left with a messy disaster on Friday afternoon.

Solution: Don’t go to sleep during the week with a cluttered home. Before bed each night, pick up at least five things and put them in their place. By the end of the week, your home will be a lot more organized. 

3. Emotional Attachment

Some items – like priceless family photos – should be cherished and held onto forever. Other items – like that surfboard keychain from Mexico – could be causing clutter in your home.

Solution: We’re not saying you should toss everything from your beach vacation in Mexico ten years ago, but there are likely a few things in your home you may be unnecessarily holding onto for sentimental reasons.

How can you decide what to keep? Ask yourself this question: “If I lost it by mistake, would I really care, or could I even possibly be glad?”

4. Letting Junk Mail Linger

It’s all too easy to bring in the mail only to open it, set it aside, and leave it in a messy pile for the next week.

Solution: Take care of mail as soon as you bring it in. Recycle anything that needs to be recycled, and file any bills immediately. Use PaperKarma to stop junk mail for good. Then, create a fun mail holder with a basket or upcycled coffee can so it always has a place to go.

5. Keeping What You Never Use

Whether it’s that kitchen gadget you ordered from a late night infomercial or that label maker from 1995, it’s easy to collect useless items year after year. It’s time to start letting them go!

Solution: Do a monthly purge of 15 unwanted or unused items. Go throughout your entire house and choose 15 things that you no longer use or want. If you haven’t used the belonging in the past year or if it is no longer functional, toss or donate it.

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