Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Ways to Avoid the "I'll Use it Someday" Clutter Problem

Have you ever tucked away a piece of clutter and told yourself, "I'll use it later"? My husband has this problem with computer parts. We have a basement and garage full of outdated equipment that he's held on to because he might "one day" have a need for it.

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post called Clever Ways to Reuse Your Clutter. This is linked to a permanent page on the blog with links to resources. But, my blog friend Carol left a comment reminding me that it's pretty common for people with clutter problems to hold on to things because they might use them "one day". I know how much of a problem this can be.

So, maybe you'd like to hold on to your child's old t-shirts to make a quilt one day. Or, maybe you'd like to save every toilet paper roll that comes into your house just in case you want to make a craft project with your Sunday school class with them someday. Where do you draw the line between being thrifty and frugal with things and getting the extra clutter out of your house?

1. Set a time limit on clutter. If you really love the idea of making a t-shirt quilt, but haven't gotten started yet, set a deadline. Decide that you need to have the project started in three months and finished in six. If you haven't started it in 3 months, get rid of the shirts. It's not that important if you didn't make the time to do it. Set a time limit for any bit of clutter that you feel the urge to save for later.

2. Don't save clutter if you don't have a specific project in mind. Crafts with CDs or egg cartons are great things to do at kid's parties, in the classroom or at scout meetings. But, unless you have something specific planned, don't start saving your egg cartons. When you make a plan for a craft from recycled objects, keep whatever you need from that point until the scheduled meeting. If you don't have enough, put the word out to the other parents in the group and you'll get bombarded with all you need. This happened with my Cub Scout den last fall. We were making a food pyramid collage and needed magazine pictures of food. I don't have a lot of magazines and those I do get are recycled as soon as we are done with them. One e-mail to the other parents in the den and I had more magazines than we needed at our meeting! Once the craft is done, recycle any extra supplies so they aren't stored as clutter.

3. Be thoughtful with what you bring into your home. One of the best ways to get clutter under control is to simply bring less into your home. Train yourself to be very critical when making purchases and accepting freebies. Don't buy things because they are cheap, whether they are new or garage sale items. If you bring something into your home, get rid of something else. Don't shop for emotional reasons. Only bring things into your home that you truly love or truly need.


  1. I have this problem. I just can't bring myself to part with that which might be useful one dat. I know I could recycle them, but the mantra is reduce, reuse and then recycle. However I have recently come to understand that my over abundance of craft supplies has made it so I cannot craft at all, as I haven't the space to work in.
    So recently I have been purging. I go through my 2 storage rooms and despite the fact that I might make something with this one day, if it is recycleable it ends up in the recycle bin and if it is trash it ends up in the trash.
    I ask myself if I decide to do something that requires 30 TP tubes will I be able to get them? The answer is yes, and quite quickly to if you ask your friends.

  2. Throwing and recycling both are arts of life which can create beautiful and healthy homes.If you do not use it in one month chances are you will never in your life.

  3. I used to be very bad about this, but over the years I learned to minimize and not just move the clutter around from room to room. Now that I have kids, my son is the same way. He keeps everything, even has little piles of paper all over his room (like I used to!) and it worries me.