Updated: May 14
Tips for shopping without causing more chaos.
What do these things have in common? Black Friday, holiday shopping, the holidays, a pandemic, changing of the seasons...
They're all powerful pushes to purchase!
It's easier now than ever to buy anything, any time, anywhere, and we have more reasons than ever to have and give in to urges to buy things.
And things don't necessarily bring joy - in fact, they can bring just the opposite (as we know if we have stuffed closets or cupboards!)
Powerful marketing ploys trigger us to "want" to buy - deep discounts, targeted ads, 'one time only' sales, having just the right item to bring joy...
Companies spend millions of dollars to figure out how to make us 'want' to buy their items.
There are also powerful internal urges like depression, anxiety, insecurity and loneliness - all feelings the pandemic and seasonal decreases in sunlight can exacerbate.
Our brain and body chemistry can trigger purchases that add to clutter.
To keep my own buying at bay, I've taught myself to ask five questions...
Things to ask our Selves before hitting the BUY button
or putting items into our carts:
AM I BEING HONEST?
IS IT A BURDEN?
IS IT A GUILT GIFT?
IS IT JUST A DOPAMINE HIT?
WHERE WILL IT LIVE?
1 - AM I BEING HONEST
If we're going to get clutter under control and live a more organized life, we MUST practice being honest with ourselves.
I call this putting on reality goggles. We don't have to wear them all the time, but we'll save a lot of time, stress and money if we practice putting them on before buying things.
Each time we go to buy something, we can take a moment to ask, "Am I being honest with myself about this?"
It's so easy to compulsively buy things. Trust me, I know how that Amazon Buy Now button wiggles so seductively! Companies make it so easy to buy we barely have time to think about our purchases before our money is in their accounts.
We DO have time to think about each purchase before we buy.
We don't have time NOT to.
A one or two second pause before purchasing can save us so much later (or the person we're giving to).
2 - IS IT A BURDEN
Will this item cause more clutter and therefor become not a gift but a burden?
Before buying, we can take a moment to think: will this bring long term joy or soon become a burden?
It's easy to get joy for a moment - opening the box, unwrapping a gift, the surprise.
But the 'woohoo, this is great!' moment passes quickly, then we're left with wrapping, packaging, and a place to put the item.
3 - IS IT A GUILT GIFT
If you give this item, will it become a 'guilt gift' for the person you're giving it to?
By this I mean will they likely just hold onto it because you gave it to them, not because they actually need or want it?
As a professional organizer, I've come across thousands of items people (including me!) are holding onto purely out of guilt.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard, 'So-and-so gave this to me, so I feel like I should keep it."
I give you permission not to hold onto anything someone gave you just because you feel guilty.
And I plead with you to consider how items you give will affect the receiver's life in the near and short term. Choose not to give the gift of guilt.
Think through the entire life cycle of the item and make decisions based on this rather than on a compulsive desire to buy something.
4 - IS IT JUST A DOPAMINE HIT
Our brains get a satisfying hit of dopamine when we hit the buy button or find something we like or want.
It's important to ask ourselves: am I buying this because I truly need or want it or because I'm attempting to fill a hole inside?
If we take a moment to check in, we can see if we have an internal struggle and potentially save ourselves from adding more stress later.
If we find we're filling a hole inside, it's important to acknowledge this and it's just as important to connect with someone and do what it takes to find fulfillment in other ways - therapy, life coaching, exercise, positive human interaction, self care...
5. WHERE WILL IT LIVE RULE
My personal rule is: if I'm thinking about bringing an item into my home, I need to know where it's going to live first.
I ask: Will it replace something? Is there room with other items like it? Do I love this enough to take time to make a home for it?
If I can't work out where it's home will be, then it doesn't get to join my family of belongings.
Yes, this is hard sometimes.
No, I don't always do this (I'm human, too!).
But when I ask these questions before buying anything, my life is SO MUCH LESS CLUTTERED and complicated!
Good luck and love to you this holiday season and in every season of life!
May you only buy the things that truly bring joy, and may you and your loved ones be safe and happy together.