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Just like how cows will creep on humans and stare in that unblinking, unflinching way, the clutter creep is out there lurking in dark places, ready to stare into the depths of unsuspecting humans.
In a world of instant with its Instapots, Instagram, and Instacarts, clutter creep happens instantly.
A mindless moment becomes instantly mindful when staring into the depths of a donation box bigger than a 30-year-old Christmas cactus.
How do I know this feeling better than the Sunday scaries? Because I’ve been there. I hang out there less often these days, only because I’ve created artificial barriers to controlling the clutter creep.
What is clutter creep?
Per the terrifyingly accurate chatbot clutter creep is,
“Clutter creep is when clutter finds its way into your home slowly and gradually over time, undoing all of your decluttering work. It’s when clutter slowly accumulates in your home without you noticing it until it becomes overwhelming.”
The best defense is a good offense, especially when controlling the clutter creep.
The best way to ensure that clutter doesn’t come in is to not invite it in.
If the clutter doesn’t get past the front door, the chances of it not being decluttered is 100%.
This includes saying a firm, yet polite no thank you to:
Stuff from family and friends;
Shopping without intent or a list;
Anything starting with junk (junk mail, junk food, etc.).
There is extra energy needed to say the words and express the feelings. However, it’s an investment in a future gift of living guiltless.
Controlling the clutter creep includes a special place for donations.
In a small space on the floor of a guest room is where a box and bag reside until their final destination.
I maintain a temporary holding spot for decluttered stuff because even though I have little to donate, it happens. A few times a year, I take a trip to Goodwill to get rid of my wares.
In my town, Goodwill is one of the few secondhand stores, and when I provide a deposit they exchange it for a 20% off coupon. As a person who shops secondhand and uses coupons, I’m stacking my frugal wins.
Preventive care is better than decluttering disrepair.
If it’s something that’s been bought, gifted, or loaned, it’s going to need some maintenance. From washing and waxing to dusting and vacuuming, there is always some repair. Even intangibles like mental health, knowledge, and time off for good behavior, need maintenance.
When I maintain my stuff through cleaning, that’s a prompt to ponder its love or usefulness. What a way to avoid current cleaning or future cleaning than wondering if I need the item to begin with!
Recently, Mr. BuLL and I were cleaning the mud room. A mud room is a small space where the transition happens from inside the house to outside. It’s where shoes and jackets come on or off. In Montana, wild weather happens, so it could be a winter jacket in the morning and running shoes in the afternoon.
Similar to all other spaces, it began to get burdened with stuff, shoe stuff.
As we cleaned, we began to control the clutter creep. We piled all the shoes in one spot and quickly realized there were a few unloved duplicates and over-worn favorites. Some were trashed, while some were put in the donation pile.
In minutes, the space was cleaner and less burdened with future maintenance.
Stickiness is the trickiest.
Sometimes, I’ve thought about decluttering something. It may be a shirt I used to love or a piece of home decor that has more miles than the garbage truck.
If I keep circling back to the item and wondering what-if, that’s my sign to let it go. If I could buy it quickly and cheaply, that’s a blinding neon sign, I should’ve let it go yesterday.
I’ve decluttered many things over the years, from packs to slacks. Outside of a couple of nostalgic items, I have yet to regret getting rid of anything.
Those are the kind of odds I can live with.
Controlling the clutter creep is how to craft a life of love, laughter, and lattes.
“There are 300,000 items in the average American home,” states the OG of minimalism, Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist.
The only time I want to see that number attached to my name is with a brokerage statement. There are many other things I’d rather have in the thousands.
I’d rather have thousands of happy memories, kind words, and volunteer hours.
If I’m controlling the clutter creep, I can craft a life that’s bigger and bolder than what I can fit in my backseat.