Decluttering Cure

13 Ways You Can Prevent Clutter from Happening in the First Place

published Sep 23, 2021
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Apartment Therapy’s Decluttering Cure is a free two-week decluttering program, guaranteed to leave you with a lighter, leaner home. Sign up here and get all 14 assignments delivered to your inbox.

When you have too much stuff, decluttering is the answer. But it’s not the solution. A better choice would have been to go back in time and avoid bringing home that thing entirely.

Now, that’s not advice that works for everyone (I mean, besides the time machine part). Sometimes the things you’re decluttering are things that used to be useful, but aren’t so much anymore.

But for all those things that you find yourself thinking “I never should have bought this,” or “I don’t even know why this is here,” the solution is doing something to prevent more clutter from accumulating in your home…

Day 4: Do one thing to prevent clutter.

To fulfill your duty to the Decluttering Cure challenge, just choose one thing from this list… and do it. Leave the note, call the customer service number. Then put your feet up and revel in your clutter-stopping superpowers.

  1. Cancel a magazine subscription. That title you haven’t read in a while? Just cancel it, or subscribe to their website instead. Or just buy the one issue you always look forward to on the newsstand.
  2. Stop the influx of catalogs. There’s usually a 1-800 number on the back of every catalog; call and request they take you off the list.
  3. Get your address off physical junk mail lists. There are services that will help you: Check out How to Eliminate Junk Mail (& Email) Once and For All.
  4. Sign up for online statements from your banks, utility providers, and credit card companies.
  5. Set a recurring weekly reminder to digitize any papers you’re keeping “just in case.”
  6. Put a trash can or paper shredder by the door where mail comes in.
  7. Think twice before you print something out from your computer. Could you store this digitally instead? Tape a reminder to your computer, or remove the paper from your printer tray to give you a reason to pause.
  8. Set up a permanent donation basket near the front door and commit to making weekly or monthly trips to empty it.
  9. Implement a one-in, one-out rule for clothes or books or toys.
  10. Talk your friends or family into a “no gift” pact for the holidays this year. Or for next year’s round of birthdays.
  11. Tattoo “Say no to free stuff” on the palm of your hand. (Or leave yourself a reminder like that that’s a little less permanent — like a phone background.)
  12. Block the word “sale” or “deal” on social media. If you can’t resist a deal, you can at least make them harder to find.
  13. Watch an episode (or several) of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. You will be inspired to stop messes before they start.

More Ways to Participate in the Decluttering Cure: