Keeping Clutter-Free

We’ve all fallen back into old habits after spending hours cleaning and sorting to make a more functional living space;  the junk mail piles up or we can’t help ourselves from buying another coffee machine on sale at Costco.   So how do we stop ourselves from being our own worst enemy and how can seniors and caregivers keep a home safer, less cluttered and better functioning for older adults aging in place?

Touch it Once.
The idea of only touching something once and dealing with it takes real discipline but it can, if practiced, become a new habit.  The thought is that instead of moving something from one pile to another, set aside the time to follow through. Does the item belong in recycling, a donation box, the garbage, or does it need to be filed?  By laying hands on an item only once as a rule, it must end up where it belongs instead of gathering dust in one of many “to be done” piles.

Stop the junk at the door.
Don’t bring junk mail inside the house.  Take it straight to an outdoor recycling bin before it has a chance to pile up or inspire impulse shopping. To reduce the amount of advertising mail your receive, try opting out by placing a note on or in your mailbox that states “I do not wish to receive unaddressed admail”.  And yes, there’s also an app for this problem.  You can download apps such as PaperKarma that allows you to take a picture of the unwanted mail and your address will be automatically removed from the distribution list.  You can also go online to opt-out of junk mail at sites like

Stick to your list!  
Both your budget and your bulging closets will thank you if you stick to your list when shopping.  We are all tempted, especially this time of year, by all the shiny new things that promise to make your life better.  But they don’t deliver.  Before buying 100 new Christmas Cards that you may never address, check the closet where you probably have more than enough already.

Something new comes it, something old goes out.  
This is a great way to maintain a clutter free closet, china cabinet or office.  If you find a better version of something, get rid of its predecessor or before your know it, every horizontal surface is covered and the cupboards are literally bowing under the weight.

Let it Go.
If you don’t use it, if it’s broken, stained, torn or it isn’t something you gain pleasure from, ditch it!  Nobody is going to ask where great aunt Sally’s cracked vase went.  Reassure older adults that it’s ok to let go of gifts or belongings that no longer serve them; donating items to a charity in need is a much better alternative and can help seniors let go and move forward, less weighted down by a burden of things.