The biggest Clutter-Magnet mistake we make

Maybe it starts when one painful back episode too many eventually convinces you to take up yoga. Everyone does it. How hard can it be? You find a class, book yourself in, then… wait. What if you can’t do it. What if you can’t get the moves. Everyone else in that place looks so yoga-cool. Maybe you should look more the part. You trade in your saggy old leggings for some bamboo yoga pants. Get yourself a yoga mat. A yoga towel [yes it’s basically just a towel]. Hey, that strappy mat carrying sling thing looks good.  If you get it you won’t have to carry the mat. Well actually you will, but click click get it anyway. Oh and the foam brick thing, get your own cork brick. Namaste brass singing bowl anyone?

Or, perhaps still dizzy from ogling freshly baked cakes and breads on your favourite cookery show, you decide to channel your inner Mary Berry. First stop, buy up half of Lakeland to fill your kitchen with 10 different sizes of loaf tin. Icing bag and accessories. Gelato mixer. A jam funnel, a flan dish and even a nice retro tin of ceramic baking beans. Oh and is that a cupcake corer, that looks fun. Click click.

Not into yoga or baking? Maybe you’re getting a new pup. Everyone else seems to be. Remember when you got a dog when you were a kid? Bowl. Lead. Maybe a bed if it was lucky. Not so today. Before you know it you’ll be in some pet wonder world faced with a wall of paraphernalia you ever knew existed. Personalised collar with inbuilt light sensor. Automatic ball launcher. A dog bandana, what’s that for? Nevermind, it looks cute. Gosh is that a temperature controlled bed, do you need one of those too?

No you don’t. You really don’t. But you’re not alone in trying to buoy up a new hobby or project by buying a whole raft of paraphernalia to help you succeed with it. The trouble is, all the stuff you’ve bought to support you in your new pastime won’t actually make you any more likely to enjoy or stick at it. But it will be a bitter reminder if you don’t end up sticking with it.

Because too often, even though we take up something with real enthusiasm, real life takes over. You miss the yoga because a work meeting runs over. Again. And you’re tired. And the boxset is way more appealing on a cold November night. Or it turns out you don’t want to get down with the cake batter of a busy workday evening or be rolling pastry on a Saturday morning plus you’re trying to stay on the right side of trim before Christmas. Or the dog isn’t interested in any of the toys, he’d far rather chew the chair leg than the swish tug of war toy you got and why lie on the temperature controlled bed when he can sneak onto the sofa?

But here’s the thing. It’s not really about the stuff, is it? It’s about our doubts and fears and the lack of confidence we sometimes have when embarking on something new. So how do we deal with this crisis of confidence? We buy stuff. We buy so much stuff because we hope our kit, accessories, garb, will help us nail it. Get it right. Make a good go of it. But it doesn’t really change anything. Take all the shiny stuff away and it’s just us. Whether we succeed or not is really down to our dedication, ability and maybe a little bit of luck.

All of this is why so many of us have sheds, attics and under-stairs cupboards full of redundant kit we used for a month and then no more. It’s why we have ankle weights under our beds, weird pasta making contraptions in the kitchen cupboards and collections of gardening tools sitting unused in the garage. True, the colossal machine that is retail and marketing is also to blame, telling us we can’t shake a stick without having an endless raft of equipment to help us do it. But if nothing else we still have our common sense.

So next time you take up something new try giving it a go without spending a fortune on pretty but unessential products first. See how you like it and if you stick with it, maybe you can go and buy yourself some kit. As a reward. And if you don’t you won’t have wasted your money and filled your house with unwanted clutter. Clutter that only serves to remind you of your failure to stick it.


©2018 Rightsize Ltd.   No part of Rightsize content or images, whole or partial, may be used without Sarah Macnaught’s written consent.  Email her at  Sarah Macnaught, is a leading declutterer and downsizing specialist in the UK.  She is UK ambassador for the Institute of Professional Organisers an international member of the National Assn of Senior Move Managers