causes of clutter – “just in case” thinking

CAUSE _ karen kingston argues in her book “clear your clutter with feng shui” that the number one cause of clutter in our homes is the “keeping things just in case” mentality and its natural outgrowth of holding on to every thing that enters our home.

everyone fears tossing out something only to realize that they really did need it after all – even if that “after all” is six months, one year, or five years down the road.  and holding on to things just in case may make you feel safe.  but there are negative consqeuences to this thinking if it is not kept in check.

people don’t immediately realize that holding on to too many things is bringing negative consequences – such as a cluttered, energy-draining home.  another negative consequence is that we begin to keep so many possessions in our home, we lose track of the ones we do possess and can’t find it when we need it anyway – thereby defeating the very purpose of keeping it in the first place!

i have seen this thinking lead to clutter in my own life whether it be holding on to an empty box (just in case i need to return that item), a kitchen utensil (just in case i want to use an electric carving knife next thanksgiving), an old aquarium (just in case i ever decide to set-up two at the same time), or baby items (just in case…)

RESOLUTION _ start be removing the things in your life that you know you’re not going to use again or don’t serve a purpose in your home (some decorations should fit in this category). 

secondly, remove items that you haven’t used in the past year.  if your “i should keep this just in case” mentality kicks in, put those items that you feel strongly about in a single box in storage with next year’s date clearly marked on the side (for example: “october, 2009″).  decide in your mind any item not used in the next year will be minimalized from your home.  from here, it’s a small step to reducing your clutter.  and freeing your mind from this clutter-collecting thinking.

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Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Dasha says

    Just a thought… you might want to hold on to that extra aquarium “just in case” your fish gets sick, has babies, or you want to introduce new ones (they need to be isolated and watched for a week, dont forget!) We have a 40G and keep a 2G hex around for emergencies. If I lived in a house rather than a 250 sq ft apartment, I’d prefer to have a 10G “just in case.” :)

  2. says

    I love Karen Kingston’s book! It really was Clear Your Clutter that put all the pieces together for me. And I SO agree about the “just in case” mentality…it’s the number one issue I see people dealing with in their closets.
    Jennifer Skinner

  3. Liz says

    Just so you know I totally cleaned out my clothes closet and packed up 8 bags of clothes, shoes,belts, hangars, for donation last night. And the whole time was thinking how proud you’d be that this has caught on in Williston!

  4. Bender says

    I go through my stuff a lot. I mean, a lot, because I am constantly moving and storing and moving. For the past 10 years I have been stuck in a cycle of touring the country (I’m a stagehand) and trying to settle down. I put my stuff in storage, go on tour, get off tour, move into an apartment, get another touring gig… and the cycle repeats. Last time, I declared I was done touring and got a 2 bedroom apartment. Well, it was way more than I needed and more expensive, too. So, by the end of a year, I took another tour to make back some money and had to move stuff into storage. This time, I got off the road and decided I didn’t need so much stuff or so much space. Especially considering that when I’m on tour. I travel with a backpack and 2 pieces of luggage and that’s IT. Aside from kitchen necessities which I will need in a place of my own, all the stuff in storage – I hadn’t used to survive in a year, maybe even longer. So, I’m living in a basement now and doing my best to get rid of everything I just don’t need.
    This is a long story, but the point is that blogs like yours are helping me realize “life “is more important than “stuff.”

  5. says

    I purchased Karen Kingston’s book around five years ago, but
    it got lost in the clutter until last month. I got sick of living in clutter, and decided that I was going to loose 500lbs of junk.
    I have two storage sheds that only get added to, I found her book and read it over a couple of evenings, and it put everything together.
    I now have no storage sheds, and am looking for a smaller apartment. My 500lb goal last month has easily exceeded
    2000lb. If I really need something I will get it, but for everything that comes in something will have to leave.

  6. Catz says

    Ok, you’ve answered my dilemma from the previous post. Thanks J. The monopoly is being recycled today…

  7. di says

    I live in a studio apartment. I use my daybed and floor cushions to dine, study and entertain. I store most of my wardrobe and an extra set of bed linens in baskets beneath the bed.

    In the kitchen, I have one set of dishes, pans and utensils. In the bathroom, I have a few sets of towels, a cosmetic basket and first-aid kit.

    I use a handheld computer. I don’t have books, CDs or office supplies.

    I don’t need a formal bedroom set, living room set, dining room set or an office. There is plenty of room in the bedroom closet and kitchen cupboards.

    It’s very spacious and things are easy to find.

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