You have a lot to do everyday. Many times you feel overwhelmed. So when your are finished using something, does it go back in it’s home? Or do you put it on the counter or table to put it away later?
The biggest clutter maker isn’t an item, it’s the habit of “putting it here for now”. You’re too busy to put it away immediately or you’re not sure where it should go so you establish a convenient area to put it until you have more time or can figure out where it’s home should be. You have good intentions to take care of it later but that doesn’t usually happen, at least not until it’s become a mountain of clutter.
The “putting it here for now” habit is partly caused by the misguided notion that it takes too long to put the items in their home. Our concept of time gets distorted when we always feel rushed and overwhelmed. To break this habit you have to catch yourself doing the “for now” thing and stop it in it’s track. Take the 30 seconds to put the purchases from the discount store away. Take the 10 seconds to put the tape, scissors, markers, etc. that you needed to cut out coupons and make your grocery list. Take the 15 seconds to put the groceries in the pantry instead of leaving them on the counter. Take the 5 seconds to put the dog brush away or the hats in the closet.
Sometimes they pile up anyway, but before a mountain of clutter builds too large set a timer for 5 minutes and clean it up.
Most of the time we overestimate the time it takes to put something away. Of course it is vital that the item has a place to go. The other reason the habit “putting it here for now” gets established is because we bring items into the house without having a place to store them. We put them in the pile for later (decisions postponed) because it takes too much time (at least in our minds) to figure out where to store the items.
The best way to break this cause of the habit is to think about where you are going to store that item before you purchase it. If you don’t know where you’re going to put it then you probably should not purchase it yet.
If we become more conscious of why we are doing something then it becomes easier to break the bad habits and create new and better habits.