6 Easy Habits To Keep Clutter Out Of Your Life — For Good

Keeping an apartment clean and tidy is a lifelong endeavor. As much as we'd like to pull a Marie Kondo and streamline our life's belongings, the thought of doing a complete home purge — and an overflowing trash bag of things you no longer need — is physically and emotionally daunting.

Staying ahead of clutter is actually a lot easier than you think — if you can stick to a few easy habits that help with regaining control of your surroundings. Beth Penn, a professional organizer and the author of The Little Book of Tidying, believes that tidying should be a daily intention — an approach to living rather than a quick solution. Ahead, she has shared six everyday routines you can develop to put a stop to clutter — before it even accumulates.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Set A Timeline

Allot a fixed amount of time every now and then for cleaning, so that the task becomes less daunting and a tidying burnout can be avoided. If you attempt to declutter your entire home in one week, you’ll end up not wanting to clean up again for a long time.

"Try to build in time to review your spaces with a donation bag in hand." says Penn. "During these regular check-ins, ask yourself, 'Am I using this enough? Do I really need it? Could someone else put this to better use?'"
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Think It Through Before Tossing

As you go through your stuff, you’ll probably hear yourself say, “I forgot I even had this!” a lot. But, even if you haven't been using something for a long time, you may be hesitant to let it go. "Give yourself a date by which you must fully incorporate it back into your world," says Penn. "If you aren’t able to put it to use after a while — give yourself a pat on the back. You did your best, and now you can confidently say goodbye."
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Let Go Of The Word "Should"

The guilt of what you “should” be doing often plagues people when it comes to keeping their homes tidy, but Penn wants you to recognize that it's a toxic way of thinking that only adds to a sense of dread and procrastination.

"Keep a journal to help you recognize this type of negative self-talk and let it go," says Penn. "Meditation is also very helping in creating an environment of mindfulness and silences the 'shoulds'."
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
One In, One Out

Anytime you buy something new, something else has to go. Penn recommends having applying this rule within the same category to keep things edited, as in, a new pair of shoes replaces an old pair.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Keep A Log

Note regular to-do’s in your calendar for the same day each week. For example, meal planning, prepping and batch cooking, laundry, online shopping for essentials, cleaning, and plant watering all have a place on your agenda. When you don’t account for everything that has to be done, you leave your schedule open to chance.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Borrow From Your Friends

If you're buying something you have never owned before and don't plan on using it daily, borrowing from your friends might be a useful way to conserve space and money. "I’ve borrowed everything from a staple gun to cooking appliances from friends and neighbors," says Penn. "Books take up a lot of space, so consider visiting your local library to find your next read."
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