Keep the Flow Going: The Ongoing Stuff Relief Plan

The Ongoing Stuff Relief Plan is for people who have a smaller amount of stuff to eliminate and those who need a plan for ongoing maintenance. The Big Stuff-Buster Plan is for people who would like to remove a large amount of stuff from their space.

The Ongoing Stuff Relief Plan

In It’s All Too Much, Peter Walsh states, “We’re not talking about a clutter crash diet, we’re talking about a lifestyle change.” That’s exactly what The Ongoing StuffRelief Plan is: making appropriate choices, setting firm boundaries, and creating functional habits which keep clutter at bay and order as works for you.

Photo by Minding Your Matters.

The inflow/outflow expectation is crucial to erasing stuff overwhelm. If you are always adding items and activities to your life but not deleting any, you are heading to stuff overwhelm. In your home or office, delete one item for each item that comes in. Each piece of clothing, toy or gadget, magazine, book, new responsibility, requires you to move something of equivalent space or time out. If it is easier, decide the most suitable place or person to receive the article or task.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to delete two items for each one that enters your space or calendar. This will depend on the amount of stuff overwhelm you are experiencing. In a home situation, one method for making sure that pieces leave your space is to have an ongoing donate container. When you come home from the store with a new pair of shoes, an older pair immediately goes into the bin. When the container is full, drop it by your favorite charity. If the outgoing article isn’t fit to be donated, then dispose of it.

You can make this into a family event to teach other family members the value of stuff-flow.

Other stuff-shrinking systems include:

  • Spend 5 minutes per day per room putting items back where they belong
  • Dispose of at least one unit of clutter each day. You can define what constitutes a “unit”, i.e., bag, box drawer, container, file, etc.
  • Establish a routine for “spring cleaning” each room of your house.

Bottom-line, the only way to maintain a manageable amount of stuff in your space is to constantly and regularly remove items from the space and to always put articles back into their homes. Don’t let the words “constantly and regularly” scare you; we are talking about creating new habits over time, not all at once. Maybe one month you decide to implement the inflow/outflow expectation. Put some colorful reminders in various locations of your home and reward yourself at the end of the month with a special but consumable reward. Continue that habit the following month while starting the new habit of spending five minutes per day per room putting items back where they belong. If you have a large space, maybe pick the three most cluttered rooms for the first month and add three more spaces the next month. Within a couple of months, you will notice that you don’t feel as overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in your home.

Happy Destuffing!