One of the best ways to prevent clutter, is to stop it
before it starts. Here are three simple questions to ask
1) Ask, 'Am I going to use it?'
Many a clutter pile originally started from an impulse
buy. Perhaps you were enticed by an infomercial on TV for
a handy-dandy pancake flipper? Or perhaps you bought a
new dress adorned with glitter and lace because it looked
so pretty on the store mannequin.
Before you buy something, always ask yourself a) if
you're going to use it, and b) if you're going to use it
often enough to be worth the space it's going to take up
in your home.
The pancake flipper would probably be worth it if you use
it once a week, or once every two weeks. But, if you're
only going to use it once every few months, it's probably
not worth the extra money or the extra space it's going
to take up in your kitchen cabinets.
The same goes for the glittery, lacy dress. Unless you
spend a lot of time at dressy parties and events, opt
instead for something you'll make more use of. Otherwise,
it's just going to be taking up space in your clothes
In addition, if you have well meaning friends or
relatives who are constantly trying to pass things on to
you that they no longer need, and that you don't need
either, learn to politely say 'thanks, but no thanks.'
2) Ask 'Am I going to use it now, or in the near future?'
Of course, if you have a lawn and you spend a lot of time
mowing, and you need a new lawn mower, and you see a
mower on sale in the winter--then, you might want to take
advantage of purchasing that item while it's on sale.
However, beware of buying things with the reasoning, 'I'm
not sure when I'll use it, but I'll use it someday.'
My friend, who never bakes, was planning to buy a
springform pan because I had one. Her reasoning was that
if she had a springform pan in her possession, that it
might entice her to bake someday.
I told her that before she goes out and buys one, that I
would loan her mine for a week. She could leave it on her
countertop, and see if the inspiration hit her.
Needless to say, she returned the pan within a week and
told me that she hadn't had the inspiration yet, so she
would borrow it from me when she was ready to bake--that
was three years ago.
In other words, she saved money by not buying that
springform pan. It would have been gathering dust for
3) Ask, 'Where is it going to go?'
On my last trip to Pier One--a wonderful store for
purchasing decorative items for the home--I came across a
candle holder that I really liked. But before making the
purchase, I immediately asked myself, 'where is it going
to go?' After some thought, I determined it would look
great in my home office on my bookshelf, on the 2nd shelf
from the top.
I also came across a neat looking basket that I was
considering buying along with the candle holder. But when
I asked myself, 'where is it going to go?', I could not
come up with an area off the top of my head. In the end,
I bought the candle holder, but did not buy the basket.
Make sure you have a clearly defined 'home' for the item
you're considering getting. Otherwise, it's bound to be
brought home, put someplace temporarily, and eventually
end up in a pile of other purchases that were not well
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