The average American home has 300,000 items inside it. Three hundred thousand things.
How many of those things do we use in an average day? Month? Year?
How many of those things do we love? How many "spark joy"? How many support us in becoming our best and fullest selves?
My guess: very, very few.
Clutter builds up when we stop making decisions about our stuff.
Rather than choose which wrapping paper we like most, we buy all 13 rolls in a jumbo package. Rather than donate clothing that no longer fits, we hang it back up "in case I need it." Rather than recycle back issues of a magazine, we stick it on the shelf to read "later."
It's those items -- the ones that we don't use or love or need -- which slowly fill our closets and drawers, our garages and attics.
Those are the items that make it hard to see the painting on the wall that you do love, hard to find your one snuggliest pair of ski socks, hard to clear off the table to share a meal with the people you love.
When we work with our clients, the first thing we do is touch each and every item to decide what stays and what goes.
The end result is a simple, easy to maintain, spacious and inspiring home.
But make no mistake, it's real work to make a decade's worth of decisions about your wardrobe (or kitchen or living space) in one morning.
And unfortunately, things don't stop trying to enter our homes after these purges. Birthdays, holidays, malls, sales, heirloom items -- these occasions for clutter to re-enter your home will continue to occur.
The easiest way to ensure that you're not sorting another 300,000 items in 10 years?
Nip the clutter in the bud by having extremely high standards for what you allow into your home.
3 ways to be radically more selective about what you allow into your space:
1) Say "Thank you, no."
Gifts, hand-me-downs, goodie bags and freebies are among the most pernicious items that continually attempt to enter our homes. Acknowledge the kindness of whoever is attempting to give you that corporate logo-filled mug or give your child a plastic bag full of small plastic things. Then warmly say "Thank you, but I actually don't need any ____ today!" and continue on with your clutter-free day.
2) Shop mindfully.
Stores are designed to make us pick up last minute items. Brilliant folks with PhD's have spent decades learning about how to appeal to our senses and override our natural decision making process so that we leave the store with a dozen extra items never knew we "needed" until right now.
Be prepared: have a list, know exactly what you are looking for, and create a budget for non-necessary items.
3) Always remember your big goals, hopes and dreams.
When you are faced with having a new item brought into your space, determine right away if the object supports the greater lifestyle that you are creating for yourself. If it's a no, immediately into the donation bin it goes!