We accumulate things before we even know we have. A lot of the time we make purchases to satisfy an immediate, temporary need. Then after that need is satisfied, the items just end up sitting around the house.
And as clutter begins to amass around your home, you may have one too many items laying around. If you’re struggling for counter space and are feeling overwhelmed by mess, here’s how to know if you have too many things and what to do about it.
10 Signs That You Have Too Much Stuff
Think about that little car you bought for your kid so they would stop screaming in the store. Or that novelty cup you bought from that amusement park so you could get a discount on a soda. What happens to these things after you need them? They become clutter.
And clutter comes with a lot of consequences. Beyond that, it just makes everyday life more inconvenient. And when the things you own begin to cause friction in your everyday life, maybe you should give some thought as to whether they’re worth keeping.
1. You frequently lose track of/can’t find things.
If you’re someone with too much stuff, you probably frequently find yourself in the position where you set an everyday item like your phone or keys down for a second, turn away from it, come back to it, and it’s gone.
Lost among your sea of things. When you have a lot of things you’re also least likely to put things back where they belong when you’re done using them, so they’re bound to get misplaced.
2. You have drawers that don’t close all the way.
It’s an odd symptom we don’t usually pay much attention to but is telling. If you have drawers that are stuffed beyond capacity, that’s a clear sign that you don’t have enough space to accommodate all your stuff.
A lot of those things in there are most likely long lost items or things you don’t even need anymore.
3. You have the common worry that if you discard something now, you’ll need it later.
This is a belief that a lot of people who exhibit hoarding behaviors have. They use this idea as a justification for not throwing away things they have no need for. The reality is that that is a possibility.
But that day could’ve come at any point between when you acquired the item and now. So it’s a slim chance that the situation you’ve been prophesying will occur right after you throw it away. If you haven’t given it a second glance in a year or longer, part with it.
4. You have clothes that you don’t wear or that no longer fit.
In both of those cases, you obviously don’t need them then. At that point they’re just taking up space.
Hanging on to clothes that you don’t or can’t wear is indicative of a bigger pattern of possessing things unnecessarily.
5. Your things are scattered about.
If not all your things have a place to go and have to be content with being set on a table or a chair, then you probably have too many things. At least too many things for the amount of space that you have.
6. You frequently find expired and old food in your kitchen.
We especially tend to stow a lot of things in our freezers and leave them there forever. If there’s a new suspicious smell in your kitchen every month or you find yourself often discarding once-good food, you’re probably investing in more food than your household can consume at once.
Make less trips to the grocery store and make room in your pantry. You can also consider following a diet for minimalists too, as well as potentially stripping down your cooking space to just the main kitchen essentials for minimalists.
7. You have duplicates of things.
Have you asked yourself why you have more than one? Do you need more than one? If the two things have the exact same function, chances are you don’t need it. If you have multiple things that the average person would only need one of, that’s usually too many.
8. You fall out of love with new possessions quickly.
This is because you’re always obtaining new things. What’s in your hands right now doesn’t mean much to you because it’s not too much longer until you’re on to the next thing.
Then once the better version comes out, that previous one ends up sitting in a drawer somewhere for the rest of time. If your passion for a new object is intense but painfully short-lived, that’s a sign that you probably spend consistently to keep that passion burning.
9. You’ve received a lot of gifts.
Gifts have sentinel value attached to them that makes them a little more difficult to separate with than average objects. So we’re prone to keeping them even if we have absolutely no interest in them.
So the chances are that if you’ve received a lot of gifts in the past, you probably have a nice collection of them by now.
10. Your clutter obstructs everyday activities.
You have so many things lying around that you have to dodge and step over stuff to get from one point to another.
Things are in the way when you go to cook, work, or even sit down. You have to move things out of the way before you can use any surface—that’s a lot of stuff!
How much stuff is too much stuff?
Of course, having “Too much stuff” is subjective, but it’s widely agreed that once certain standards have been met, it’s safe to say you have an excessive amount.
“Hoarding” is (loosely) the dilemma of having too much stuff, so the quantity of your possessions in correlation to its effects on your health are observable. In other words, despite its subjectivity there is a line you can cross into “too much stuff” territory.
It’s not even totally our faults. The desire for a lot of things is ingrained in us and constantly being cultivated. In today’s world, we’re constantly being tempted by things wherever we go. Products are pushed in front of us ceaselessly, no matter what we’re doing.
Advertisements are on every app, right in the middle of every T.V. show, and ad posters are on every corner. People give out free things to promote brands and events. We’re constantly exposed to what we could have. And naturally we want it.
Minimalists recognize that our perpetual pursuit of things can have consequences though. Even more than that, possessions don’t produce genuine and long lasting joy. There isn’t a sincere need for us to have so many things.
Too much of anything is a bad thing. As such, having too many possessions can have negative repercussions. Most of us are so blinded by our race for things that we don’t notice or even consider the possibility that there might be a downside to having so many things. But the consequences of excess are exposed in everyday life.
The Dark Side of Materialism
In our eyes, we’re obtaining things that’ll make our lives better, make us look good, and make us happy. In reality, people who try to find happiness in possessions are rarely ever truly happy.
They can just better pull off the affectation of happiness. It seems as though the more we acquire, the more satisfied we appear, but the less satisfied we actually are. We can only feed the more mindset, we can never actually satiate it. It’s never full. The more things you have, the more you want.
Once you’ve experienced good, you’ll naturally then want to experience great, and then wonderful. You’re much happier when you can indulge in the gratitude of just having what you need.
Not only does materialism make us ungrateful, but it makes us dependent. Dependent on all the devices, gadgets, and apps that can do everything for us. There’s a device for everything.
They cook, they clean, they fix, they give us the answers. If you take these things away, where does that leave us?
But that’s the big goal: to make the public reliant on these things so that companies can constantly sell us more, or better versions. New technology is always being developed to do the things that we can’t, or won’t.
Hence, this attitude of “I can’t” or “I won’t” costs us a lot of money. People go into debt to acquire the latest and greatest things.
We’re content to spend our greatest resource on temporary pleasures rather than something that begets genuine joy. This keeps us in a cycle of temporary delight that constantly has to be refilled with something new.
That’s why people can be surrounded by things and still not be abundant or happy. Because material things aren’t the real source of happiness. If you’re one of these people, you’ve probably approached a point where you’ve wondered why you’re not content with all that you have. It could well be because you have too many things.
Pay attention to your interactions with the things around your home. Are they in the way? Are you using it or stepping over it? Have you not interacted with it at all in the past month? Do you depend on them to do certain things that you should probably be able to do yourself?
To be conscious of what you have, practice being aware of how the things around you on a regular basis add or subtract from your life, or do neither.
Think about it this way: there are so many things out there in the world for you to accumulate. An unfathomable amount of things. Hence, it’s almost guaranteed that there’s something out there better than what you have.
But in order to make room for better, you have to get rid of unsatisfactory things that are in the way.
This “better” might not come in the form of another version of that item, but rather something that helps you live and feel better than that item did. Keep in mind every time you part with something, something else is coming to take its place because abundance manifests in many forms!