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The One To Zen Organizing Blog

Breathe in Calm, Breathe out Clutter

  • Writer's pictureJill Katz

One to Zen Strategies To Improve Your Shopping Habits So You Can Stay Organized




THE HISTORY

Over the years, I have seen clutter as a result of bad shopping habits. I wouldn’t necessarily call those clients compulsive shoppers. But, nevertheless, their spaces are filled with items they don’t really need. Interestingly enough, I have also run into the occasional client who has the opposite problem. Their tendency is to resist buying items that they truly need. And those non purchases also culminate in clutter (think books in piles on the floor because there are no bookshelves in the home.


So I decided to compose a “One to Zen” list of strategies to aid the over-shopper, the under-shopper, and everyone in between. Here we go:


THE STRATEGIES


For Overbuyers:


1. Only buy things that you intend to use right away.

Let the store do its job and store items for you until you need it. For example, if you plan on redoing your bathroom in a couple of years, don’t purchase a faucet this year– even if it’s on sale.


Are you an overbuyer when it comes to clothes? Read this article from the Atlantic about what happens to old clothes.

2. If you have a new hobby, don’t buy “all the things'' right away.

Instead, limit the number of items you purchase per month for that hobby. For example, if you are suddenly into yoga, buy a yoga mat in June and save the yoga blocks forJuly. If you are sticking with the hobby then you have earned the new purchase. Which leads me to my next strategy…


3. If you have accumulated items from a hobby that doesn't excite you anymore, give those items away.

Clear that clutter!


4. Buy only 1 item instead of multiples.

There are two exceptions to this rule:

You can buy multiples of an item that you have proven to use up within 3 months (ex. Toilet Paper, soap, toothpaste, food items you eat a lot).

You can buy multiples of a clothing item in the same or different colors if you have a proven record of wearing the same items to reduce decision making.

Otherwise, you might be well-intentioned but your multiples strategy will backfire into clutter. Trust me, I have seen the fallout!


5. If you are shopping online, leave your item in the shopping cart for 24 hours before purchasing.

The next day, ask yourself again, do I really need this?


6. Use these mantras to help you prevent overbuying:

“I can always buy it later” ,

“I will keep items out of the landfill”

I need to use items I already have before bringing more items into my home”


7. Do not buy something until you know where you will store it

I’m talking to anyone who has a Ninja, A Waffle Maker and an Insta-Pot!


For Under-buyers


8. Recognize certain issues that keep coming up as cues that give you a “license to buy.”

No home for your books? - License to buy a bookshelf

Keep running out of sunscreen? - License to buy a 3-pack instead of a single container the next time you go to the store

Frustrated by using a folding table for your home office? - License to buy a desk


9. Limit your decision making.

Many under-buyers out there are overwhelmed by all the choices so they run and hide instead of moving forward with their purchase. I suggest choosing a few parameters as a tool to make a decision. For example, when choosing a coffee table, you might use material, amount of storage, and size as your 3 parameters. Then find 3 choices that fit those parameters. Finally, choose 1 of the 3 choices and pull the trigger. I know you can do it!


For all kinds of shoppers:

ZEN: The ultimate strategy : Choose an area in your house to receive your purchases.

Your Amazon box arrives and you open it up only to discover that you need to return the item. Or you need to read the instructions for the item. Or you need to assemble the item. Not all purchases can be put away immediately. So where do you put it? That’s why you need a receiving area. This could be a hall closet, a guest room, or a bedroom closet. Just make sure to schedule the next necessary step for integrating your purchase into your home so it isn’t lost and forgotten until your Professional Organizer comes and discovers it under a pile of clutter.


In Conclusion


Are you an over-buyer or an under-buyer? Take this quick question quiz from Gretchen Rubin and find out! Then share in the comments.

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8 Comments


Jana Arevalo
Jana Arevalo
Sep 18, 2022

This is a such a good concept- zen and balance when it comes to shopping habits. My daughter makes fun of me because "I hate shopping." But, I think it's because I know the feeling of buying something and not using it or wearing it. I don't like that feeling so now I am much more discerning when I go shopping. I like your suggestions! Thank you.

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Sep 18, 2022
Replying to

Jana, I also worry about buying something and then letting the item "go to waste." I think we are both underbuyers. Thanks for sharing!

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julie
Sep 14, 2022

I love the advise about assessing your shopping habits and the solutions to change them. I also see a lot of overbuying. Sometimes I think online overbuying is a way to have something exciting happen in the day, a parcel arrives. I am not even sure that the client is excited enough about the item to keep it. I think they are excited about it arriving and opening it. I like the tip about delaying the decision, leaving it in the cart for 24 hours or waiting on the decision until the next time you are in the store.

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Sep 14, 2022
Replying to

Julie, that's a good point. I do think there is something to the thrill of receiving a package. Even making the purchase could cause a hit of serotonin. Delaying the purchase is a way of resisting that urge for instant gratification.

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Julie Bestry
Julie Bestry
Sep 14, 2022

This is such actionable advice! I'm an underbuyer. It takes me forever to part with money for almost anything other than groceries that I will go years without buying any clothes. My friends laughed at me a few weeks ago when I announced I was buying myself two BIG purchases, a bathroom scale (to replace a 30-year-old one) and a water flosser (like a WaterPik). And I only got them because they solved specific issues, just as you note!

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Sep 14, 2022
Replying to

Julie I am also an underbuyer! That's why, I was careful to include them in this post. It's just as much of an organizing hazard as overbuying. When I actually have to buy something, I tend to overthink it. We're in the minority, I believe, so it's nice to meet your underbuying acquaintance here!

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Linda Samuels
Linda Samuels
Sep 12, 2022

Love your wise, practical, and doable ideas around shopping...for over and under-buyers alike! It's interesting how much of this comes down to the decisions we make. Where will it go? How much is enough? How much research is needed before saying "yes" to a purchase? Your guidelines and parameters are so helpful.

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Sep 14, 2022
Replying to

Wise observation Linda! Decisions are integral to a well organized life. Don't you think?

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