Dear Alice: You always talk about clearing clutter, but what about preventing clutter? No matter how much I clear, it always seems that things pile up. I’m a clutter magnet! Help!

Ah! I completely understand. It’s what I call”clutter creep.” While it takes time and energy to get rid of clutter, it takes effort and consciousness to prevent our homes from filling right back up again. Things we fail to get rid of in the moment, even though we don’t need them, also create clutter. We make piles and promise ourselves we’ll get to them, but rarely do so in a timely manner.

Here are some strategies that I have integrated into my life successfully.

Have wastebaskets in convenient areas


Before putting something in a closet or on a shelf, drop what is not needed into a wastebasket. Put wastebaskets in convenient locations around your home and use them regularly. Throw junk mail away as you are looking through it, and think twice before you save another shopping bag. (Do you really need to add another empty bag to the closet full of empty bags you already have?)

Don’t second-guess yourself

When you feel like throwing out an empty jar, an item that is old and worn, or a broken unusable item, don’t think twice about it; do it! You will save space and future clutter clearing.

Buy less

Adopting the daily mindset to buy less will help you avoid clutter. Think before you buy, especially when something is on sale or cheap. It might be a good deal, but do you need it? If not, you are buying clutter.

Don’t even bring it into your home!

Shop from a list


Don’t shop “just to shop,” as you’ll inevitably end up getting something you don’t need, which will eventually end up as clutter. Shop only when you need something, take a list and stick to it.

One item in, one item out

If you bring home a new item, make sure you get rid of an old one. I have a donation bag on the floor of both my clothing and hall closets. Any time something new comes in, especially if it is replacing something old, I put the old item in the bag. When the bag is full, I take it to a donation center. This has worked well for me for the last six years, and I encourage you to try it.

Say ‘no’ to freebies

We all love the idea of getting something for free, but if that item doesn’t truly have a value to you, then it is probably clutter. It will work against you as you work to make your home more efficient.

Send your questions to Alice at Alice Inoue owns Happiness U, a lifestyle studio located at SALT Kakaako where anyone can find positive inspiration and high-level guidance to minimize stress and optimize modern day life! Visit