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10 Tips to Keep Clutter At Bay

Greetings My dear Partners in Minimalism,

You can follow me on Twitter @VitaReid.

This comedy routine by George Carlin expresses so vividly how obsessed we are with our stuff! Hilarious!
(Parental Advisory: Aside from a few expletives here, it’s pretty clean.)

I’ve gotten rid of over 300 items thus far, and my place is all the better for it with the newly revealed open spaces. My feline friends, Sebastian and Zia, now sprint down the long hallway connecting the living room to the bedroom in their version of the 50-yard dash. What a joy it is to watch their newly discovered lightness of being.

I must say that I’m quite pleased with the progress I’ve made thus far in my quest for nothing. Oh my gosh! Whoever would have thought that I’d say such a thing! Most people are trying to amass more accoutrements of success and comfort: a beautiful house, more techy toys, beautiful dresses, tailor made suits, fancy cars, fine jewelry, nicknacks, bric-a-brac, pattywacks, and any and all manner of shiny new objects and fabulous adornments. But oh no … not me. I’m trying to barter it all, sell it all, chuck it all, donate it all, forego it all … in fact I’m just sick and tired of it all … I want to own practically nothing … and I will.

It was not until one of my Facebook friends asked whether I was about to check out of here, that I realized my desire to purge my possessions may appear quite macabre to a mind unenlightened by the wonderful benefits of minimalism. One thing’s for sure. As long as there’s a bridge game to be played, there is no way I’m going to make my exit from this life on the hurry up! It’s not gonna happen. No way!

I’ve invested more time and effort minimalizing than I spent accumulating the stuff in the first place. I’ll have to remind myself of that when I reach for that sale item that I know good and well I don’t need. Once I bring it home and stow it away with my other useless stuff, I won’t even remember I bought it in the first place. Yesterday’s impulsive purchases are tomorrow’s purging woes.

I must remain forever vigilant so I don’t re-clutter my abode ever again. I will bring my every thought and action back into my conscious awareness, or before I know it I’ll have a cluttered place again without the slightest notion how it happened … Here we go loop de loop! Back in clutter again! I don’t even like the sound of that.

You see, clutter is a physical manifestation of a few errors in judgment made every single day. My place did not become cluttered overnight. My lapses in good judgment over a span of 12 years got me to where I am today.

So … you got it … I got to thinking. What can I do now to minimize (I love that word) my lapses in judgment, and thereby keep clutter at bay over the long haul?

Do you have any clutter-busters of your own to share? Post your ideas in the comments section if you do … I need all the help I can get! Lol!


1. Clean out your in-box. Unsubscribe to email ads such as Amazon, Case Logic, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Buy.Com, Lumosity, Nightingale-Conant, iTunes, and anything else that pushes your “I gotta have it” button.

2. Open an online savings account. An ING bank account discourages impulsive spending as funds are not available for immediate withdrawal.

3. Recycle or throw out defective items. If it’s broken, ripped, torn, or cracked, get rid of it. As my friend Natalie C. Felix says, “When in doubt, throw it out!”

4. Opt out of junk mail. Here are 8 ways to start the process.

5. Cut those credit cards. All my transactions are cash and carry.

6. Resist the temptation to buy. Do I really need the iPad? My iTouch, netbook and laptop work just fine. It’s going to take all the won’t power I can muster to resist that temptation. I love technological gadgets.

7. Become a member of the Do Not Call Registry. A few easy steps and you’re well on your way to eliminating those annoying telemarketing calls during the dinner hour.

8. Spy before you buy. Take a look around your abode first. You may already have it. I should have checked around my place before I bought the sixth nail clipper.

9. Make some items do double duty. My pet carrier also serves as a cat house. My cats love resting inside and lounging on top. I’ve got lovely blankets and rugs adorning it.


10. Project Into the Future. Remember! Your desire for the item you purchase will diminish the moment you carry it over the threshold.

Don’t forget to post in the comments section below how you keep clutter out of your home.

Keeping it easy and breezy where less is more,

Vita Reid, The One Minute Minimalist


About Vita Reid

"You cannot Change What You Will Not Confront." T.D. Jakes. I am a 1993 graduate of Smith College, having majored in Psychology with a minor in Mathematics. I lived in Lawrence House during my senior year. I am an ardent bridge player and soon-to-be expert. My motivation to declutter, minimalize and clean my apartment began 10 years ago when I visited my friend's minimalistic apartment in Manhattan. He owned nothing. My motivation to speed the process of down-sizing my possessions along is fueled by a desire to entertain a world-class bridge player at my home during the world games to be held at the Marriott Hotel on Market Street in Philadelphia in October 2010. Being that I will be working almost exclusively from home when my voice over career flourishes, I would like to make my apartment pleasing to my own eye. Since clutter can also be an impediment to creativity, I find it essential to rid myself of it so that I can develop more creativity in many areas of my life, including at the bridge table, my blog posts and developing creative marketing strategies for my voice over business. This blog represents a diary of my genuine feelings moment by moment as I make the transformation from 12 years of disorganized clutter to owning only the bare essentials of life. May you find a few nuggets in the writings to inspire you in your life's journey. Keeping it easy and breezy in the land of less, Vita Reid The One Minute Minimalist


14 thoughts on “10 Tips to Keep Clutter At Bay

  1. Here, Here! I agree wholeheartedly! After living in Japan (where there IS no space in your apt.), I’ve been resisting getting sucked into the consumerist mindset here in the states. LOVE your tips – going to try them right away.

    I have a question: Japan was a cash-and-carry society and I’d like to get back to that. i don’t see a need to carry credit cards, esp. when cash or debit works just as well AND you can pay bills online. However, my financial guru warned me strongly, “You need at least one credit card…it’s the society we live in” – meaning for credibility in renting cars, etc. What do you think about this?

    Posted by Jenny-Philly Smithie | February 9, 2010, 6:15 PM
    • Hello Jenny,

      Thank you for reading this blog. I am delighted that you have found a few tips to assist you in your journey towards owning less to make room for what’s more important in your life. There is no need whatsoever to carry credits cards. You may wish to consider holding only one with a credit limit no more than the average cost to rent a car for a time-period that is customary for you. Should the bank wish to raise your credit limit for any reason, I suggest that you politely refuse. It would be best that the credit not exceed your ability to pay it off in 30 days. Credit cards should be a convenience and not a crutch to carry one’s finances between paychecks.

      In my case, credit cards are an unnecessary evil. I handle my finances much better without them. There is a sense of freedom in ownership unencumbered by the weight of oppressive consumer debt. In my view, cash will always be king.

      Peace and love,


      Posted by Vita Reid | February 9, 2010, 6:38 PM
  2. I am so with you Vita. Last October, I moved for the 13th time in my life. It was literally a nightmare experience. I have so much stuff! I have downsized through the years but this clarified my need to radically unload. This summer, I plan to go down to 50% of what I own. George Carlin is so right about how stuff rules our lives and resources. It is a truly strange phenomena.

    Posted by Carol - Philly | February 10, 2010, 11:50 AM
    • Hi Carol! Thanks so much for responding to the blog. You are not alone in the challenges you face with “stuff.” I too am digging myself out of 12 years of my chaotic clutter. It’s been a slow process but I’m enjoying. I’ll do a little bit every day and before long I’ll be done.

      If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, there may be some helpful hints from like minds to assist you in your journey to owning less.

      Best wishes to you … and come back soon.


      Posted by Vita Reid | February 10, 2010, 12:14 PM
  3. Absolutely. Another good idea for people who move or travel a lot would be to ask whether you could carry it with you if you hade to move to another place and had only a big backpack available to transport your stuff (well, furniture obviously excluded). That one has worked very well for me over the past two years, at least.

    Posted by Lex Mosgrove | February 10, 2010, 6:21 PM
  4. You make some valid points that I, for one reason or another, have not yet advised the TMP followers to do. Good work…

    David Damron

    P.S. I heart George Carlin

    Posted by David - The Minimalist Path | February 10, 2010, 9:52 PM
    • Thank you for saying that, David. I appreciate the encouragement.

      New blogger that I am, I hope to bring a unique voice and perspective to the minimalist niche.

      I adore George Carlin — every time I play this video it motivates me to clear a way a little bit more clutter.

      Peace and love,


      Posted by Vita Reid | February 10, 2010, 10:06 PM
  5. I no longer subscribe to any email notifications, it’s simplified my email tremendously!

    Posted by SimplicityBySunny | February 17, 2010, 3:00 PM
  6. I am so with you, Vita. I have too much stuff. The responsibility of keeping all my things orderly is overwhelming. Keeping my family in order is one thing but my possessions? That’s too time consuming. When someone asks me what I want, I tell them, “Don’t give me things. Give me space.” Follow my clutter clean up at my blog http://www.carynbark.com/Site/Caryns_Bark_%28A_Clutter_Blog%29/Caryns_Bark_%28A_Clutter_Blog%29.html

    Posted by Caryn Bark | July 29, 2010, 7:14 AM
  7. What a brilliant post, I love the ‘spy before you buy’ tip. I agree with you about the effect clutter clearing has on cats. I’ve just done a major declutter and my cats are hurling themselves around as if they are in their second kittenhood. It’s a joy to watch all the new games they have devised for themselves, a lot of them involving skidding around on clear floors!

    Posted by Linda Kennedy | February 10, 2011, 6:31 AM
    • You are so right Linda. My apartment still has a ways to go, but i definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel. I see lots my empty spaces in my abode than I’ve seen in a long.

      Thank you for your support and kind words. Good look on downsizing. Have a great day! Vita Reid

      Posted by Vita Reid | May 17, 2011, 10:51 AM

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