The Secret to Staying Organized

Do you feel like you’re always trying to get organized? No matter how much you donate or get rid of, it still feels like you’re not making any headway! The answer may lie in looking at the other side of the stuff equation. You may be diligently working to part with unwanted items, but until you get serious about limiting what’s coming in, the stuff will continue to win.

Limiting what comes into your house is often easier said than done – gifts, papers, toys, hand-me-downs, freebies, junk mail, bulk purchases – it can seem like the influx is endless. However, with a little effort, patience, and practice, you can make changes to what comes in and finally gain the upper hand in the battle with your stuff. Here are 5 strategies you can try:

Pause before you purchase – When you think of something you “need” or want – hit the pause button before you purchase. Decide on a mandatory waiting period – at least 1 week, but better yet 1 month. Just like a food craving, if you create a little space, it may pass. If you want to keep a list, go for it – write down the item and the date. If after your waiting period is up, you still decide it’s a worthwhile purchase, you can make that choice. But chances are, your pause button will save you a more than a few unnecessary purchases.

Question everything – Before you buy something (even necessary items) or otherwise allow it into your house, give it a good interrogation. Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Do I need this now? Do I need I need this much of it? (this can help curb unwise bulk purchases)

Don’t go shopping – Limit your trips to stores, especially your trigger stores (Target anyone?). Just seeing an item in a store can make you think you might need it. Even if you don’t buy it then, the seed is planted, and you’ll find yourself thinking about it long after you leave the store – maybe I do need that? Maybe that’s better than the one I have? If you never see it in the first place, you won’t put yourself at risk and you’ll be just fine!

Unsubscribe – This one is HUGE! Unsubscribe from all marketing emails – even for stores you do shop at. Getting the constant sale emails creates an urgency to buy even when you’re not in the market for anything. The little deals and coupons are not worth it. If you are planning to make a large purchase, you can always sign up to receive a coupon when you’re ready to buy. Another option for these emails is to send them to specific email address (or folder within your email) that you only look at when you need to make a purchase.

Follow the “1 in 2 out” rule – When you do allow something into your house, make sure you are sending more out the door. We often fall victim to buying a replacement or upgrade for something and then allowing the old item to stick around…just in case. Don’t let this happen, start using the replacement and send the older item (and something else) on its way. It doesn’t even have to be like items – just use the new item as a trigger to find a few things to donate. It’s just physics, if you want less stuff in your house – the “out” has to be great than the “in.”