5 Steps to Prevent Clutter

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The bushy-tailed woodrat is a species of rat found in the western United States and northern Mexico. This peculiar rat is known to “collect” items, which it then stores inside its small, cluttered nest. Another name for this collector of curiosities is the pack rat.

Like these little furry creatures, many humans have the same urge to collect things of little or no use to them. Over time, the collection builds and builds until the clutter begins to impose on everyday life.

If you’re a “pack rat,” and you want to learn to free yourself from the clutter that is slowly surrounding you, ask these five simple questions before saving any given item.

Do I Need This?

Well, do you? Most of the time, we collect things that we think we are going to need or use someday. Then, ten years later, we still haven’t used or needed them. If it’s not something that you know will have an immediate upcoming purpose, get rid of it.

Do I Have Storage Space for This Item?

If the item in question is not already stored, odds are you don’t have space for it.

Am I Buying Something Simply Because It Is on Sale?

Making a purchase just because something is on sale, or you have a coupon, not only reduces the amount of space in your home, but also costs you money—yes, even when it’s on sale! Buy only the things you need, when you need them.

Am I Making an Impulse Purchase?

Many people suffer from Buy Now, Think Later Syndrome. This line of thinking is similar to that joke about the cop who shoots first and then says, “Freeze!” The damage is already done. If you find yourself in the midst of an impulse purchase, walk away and take a day or two to decide whether or not you really need the item. In the vast majority of cases, you’ll completely forget about the “must-have” item within 24–48 hours.

Do I Have Something Like This Already?

Pack rats can also suffer from the feeling that having one of something is not enough. They need a second or third one just in case the original one breaks, goes missing, or is stolen. There is simply no need to compile collections of things you already have—you can only use one at a time anyway.

If you can gather the strength and discipline to ask yourself these five simple questions before making a purchase, accepting a hand-me-down, or picking something up off the sidewalk on trash day, you will begin to notice a significant reduction in the amount of clutter in your home.

The next step? Going through your existing collection of goods to determine whether or not you really need each item. The truth shall set you free. . . from clutter!