Why do I have so much stuff? 5 unexpected answers

In a previous blog, I used S.T.U.F.F. to help you examine how you feel about having a lot or a little. Your feelings guide you sometimes other times you procrastinate decluttering a room or your home and things keep piling up. Maybe you’re sentimental and think you are honouring your things by stuffing them in a box and hiding them away. Get them out and keep the best items and enjoy them. Let the other items make someone else happy. Are you a collector and keep adding to your collection? These are possible answers but think about how the decisions you make in everyday life can help you to have so much stuff.

a room with clothing in cupboard, linens in cubicals and piles of stuff on a table.
Photo by Zhanzat Mamytova from Pexels

I’ll change my weight.

So you decide you want to lose some weight but you’re not sure how successful you will be at keeping the weight off. Or maybe you are putting on a few pounds and your clothes are getting a little tight. The stuff in your closet starts to accumulate. Clothes that don’t fit now, clothes that used to fit, clothes that you might need in the future, a style that you used to wear, it might come back. Sound familiar. Now you have 2 or 3 or 4 wardrobes in different styles and sizes. What’s the solution?

Invest in the new you, you’re worth it.

Keeping clothes around from a weight you don’t want to be is setting yourself up for defeat. Donate clothing that doesn’t fit. Donate it before it becomes out of style, no one will want it and it ends up in the landfill. Buy small quantities of clothing that fit, you like, people compliment you when you wear them and are affordable. You are worth the investment. Remove the clothing that makes you feel discouraged and takes up valuable storage space.

I’ll buy in bulk to save money

For a lot of items we have been taught it is cheaper to buy in bulk. It may be true in some situations. If you have a large household, run a daycare, operate a cleaning industry. Usually buying in bulk costs you money. You need to buy more shelving or cupboards to hold everything. Your food supplies don’t get used before the best before date and you throw them out. Items get damaged, (broken light bulbs), you no longer need them because you changed appliances and fixtures, (filters for coffee, furnace or water), your tastes have changed ( vegetarian foods, green energy products or chemical free cleaning products ) and things you used to use are no longer needed. What’s the solution?

Buy in different quantities for different items

If you enjoy going to membership stores like Cosco, use your membership for buying things in bulk you use up quickly, toilet paper. Always check what you have at home and how much space you have to store things before you go shopping. Buy proportionately to how much you use an item and how quickly you use it. This rule works for food, clothing, cleaning supplies, kitchen gadgets, gifts, candles, books, cosmetics almost everything. You don’t want to be throwing your money in the garbage

I’ll get active

Great decision until the clutter happens. There is so much equipment you can buy to help you get active. Shoes, clothing, bikes, paddling, weights, bands, mats, balls bats/rackets, swimming gear. The list goes on. it piles up everywhere. Inside the home, the garage the vehicle. What’s the solution?

Establish good habits/routines

Things can get dropped all over the place. Decide on a place to hang wet items to dry or damp items to air out. Have a place for larger gear to be stored, a basket, container, bin or hang them on the wall. Have shelves for hats, helmets, shoes, sunscreen to be placed. Use hooks for clothes, hats, backpacks. Make it easy to put things away and label where things go so everyone knows. Donate items that you no longer use, have become too small or older models when you upgrade your gear.

I’ll make my home perfect

Everyone looks at the pictures in magazines, on Pinterest or on Facebook. Those are only a moment in the life of that person. You really need a video to see what normal will look like. Sometimes it feels like you will never get the clutter reduced, let alone under control. You give up and don’t try because it will never be perfect. The stuff continues to build up, more stuff comes into the home and nothing leaves the home. What’s the solution?

Be practical

Set aside perfection and keep the clutter controlled as much as you can with the time, energy and budget you have. Set realistic goals. Take 15 minutes a day and tidy up one area. The next day work in another area. Even better have everyone, all together, take 15 minutes and tidy up one area each. Keep a donation box in a closet or mudroom and place items you don’t need in the box. Donate it and get another box. Have a goal to fill one box a week. Start with the area or project that bothers you the most. It will feel good to take care of it and not think about it anymore.

I’m going to start decorating for holidays

There are so many holidays you can decorate for. Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Earth Day, Canada Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festival of Lights. Buying or making decorations produces piles of objects big and small, expensive and inexpensive to store. It takes time to put them up and sometimes they don’t get taken down and put away, they get dumped somewhere never to be in good enough shape to be used again. Next year comes and you see the new types of decorations on the market and your supply goes bigger. What’s the solution?

Pick and choose

You have limited time, space and energy to do decorating. Pick and choose when you will decorate a lot and when you will not decorate or put out only a tablecloth. Go through your decorations yearly before buying more. Donate items you don’t need anymore, only purchase a few new things if you need them. Look at how much space you have to store your decorations. Keep your decoration in waterproof bins and store them all together so you can find them each year. As your desire changes for decorating make it simpler and simpler each year so you continue to enjoy doing the decorating, looking at the decorations and cleaning up.

Making changes in your lifestyle can create clutter or it might reduce clutter. Make smart decisions for your lifestyle and manage the changes it causes in your time, energy, space and mindset so you can control the clutter and enjoy the new opportunities you have chosen.

Comment on some other life decisions that create clutter in your home

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

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6 thoughts on “Why do I have so much stuff? 5 unexpected answers”

  1. All of these are great. I especially like your caution to avoid buying a lot of things we use very slowly.

    Here’s a question I have for you. I’ve got a lot of clients whose kids play ice hockey. The clothes arrive home wet and very smelly. They aren’t the kinds of things you can put right into the washing machine. Figuring out where to hang these to dry, without bringing a nasty odor to the room, has been a challenge. I’m listening if you have some ideas on this one!!

    1. In our house, we had a basement. Directly after every game, the hockey bag went downstairs and everything was hung up on a hockey jockey. The bag was left open to dry out. All towels, sweaters, socks, underwater, jocks etc were put in the washing machine and it was turned on. This was all done by the player. I would move the stuff to the dryer and then fold it and put it on top of the hockey bag. Some of the smell comes from never drying out the equipment, bag and not washing the clothing. In December I would wash the hockey gear in the washing machine and if possible hang it out in the sun for the UV rays to help kill the bacteria. At the end of the season in the spring, I would do the same thing. Another thing that works well if you have many players in the home. Put up 2 shelving units and fasten them together so you have a shelves 48″ or 72′ deep. Each shelf can hold a hockey bag (sliding them in front to back on the shelf) and it leaves space around the bag to lay out gloves, shin pad, hockey pants and shoulder pads. You can have 4 sets of equipment drying, one on each shelf. This could be in a garage but hockey equipment does need heat to dry completely. The clothing needs to be washed as well. Thanks for the question.

  2. These are all great ways to clarify thought patterns that SEEM smart, but are actually counterproductive. People are always singing the praises of bulk purchasing, but I’m a singleton, and instead of the rare occasion when I buy two of something (usually when the store has a BOGO sale), I never buy multiples or in bulk. At the start of the pandemic, people pressed me to buy in bulk, because we wouldn’t know how long we’d be locked down. But I had a pretty good idea of how much toilet paper, paper towels, and non-perishable food items I’d go through, and had no intention of buying 3 or 6 months worth of stuff!

    But all of these examples you’ve given are definitely the kinds of things we see — in our clients, if not also in ourselves — and a reality check is needed. If we really do lose weight, we’ll want new clothes. If we’ve got tons of workout stuff we never EVER use, what’s the likelihood we’ll ever use all of it? Your post is the reality check we all need!

    Also, I’m tickled by that Pexels photo. Who needs that many slippers?!

    1. Buying in bulk is a double edge sword. You might save money until you don’t need it or use and throw it out or give it away. For some people it is hard to pass up a sale.

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