Clutter Creepers and How to Avoid Them

Dec 11 2019

by Carrie Peeples

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you organize your office, your desk, your papers, your mail. Everything looks fabulous and you are living your best life. Then a week passes, maybe 2, and your hard organizing work is nowhere to be found. It looks like a tasmanian devil just breezed through and you’re back where you started.

Time to organize….again!

Fact of life: a certain amount of maintenance work is always going to be required to maintain order but there are evil forces in this world that are actively derailing your attempts at a workspace. They are known as Clutter Creepers, and I’m going to help you combat them!

What is a Clutter Creeper? A clutter creeper is something, like mailers, catalogs, fast food toys, other people’s stuff, giveaway merchandise, etc. that comes into your office stealthily, repeatedly, and seems to reproduce at night. They are modern day gremlins.

Fear not, you can tame them. You can stop them in their tracks and halt their progress. You just have to take action.

The Southern Coterie blog: "Clutter Creepers and How to Avoid Them" by Carrie Peeples (photo: Teresa Earnest for 2016 WOM workshop)
There are quick, easy ways to keep your spaces organized, effective + beautiful and to keep them from hindering your productivity. Photo Teresa Earnest from the 2016 WOM workshop

Here are some examples of Clutter Creepers and how you can keep them away.

Extra Emails. You signed up for a newsletter 9 years ago that still has your name. You participated in a contest and didn’t realize your email address was passed to 7 other companies. Somebody bought your name and address. Whatever it is, now is the time to unsubscribe from emails you no longer wish to receive.

Some of us receive so many emails, we don’t know where to start. You can use a service like to assist with this process. I personally like to adopt the Turtle process and just do a few at a time. Sometimes I sort my inbox by recipient to get a clearer visual of ALL of the emails, and it makes it easier to unsubscribe (and then delete) en masse.

Set a goal for yourself of how many you’d like to minimize and do a few a day. You’ll be amazed at how quickly this reduces your daily email reading time.

SWAG and other Free Stuff. From conference totes, to promotional water bottles, pens, and sticky pads, to Chick-fil-A coloring books, we get a lot of free stuff handed to us on the regular. Some of it is quite useful. Most of it just ends up in a pile on our desks or taking up drawer space.

The problem is we just accept what people are offering us because it’s free. It’s intoxicating to get free stuff. It’s a treat because it’s free! But you have the option of saying “no, thank you” and not letting it creep into your house.

If you’re about to accept that umpteenth cloth grocery bag at a conference or information booth just because it’s free, stop and take a pause. Ask yourself how many of these do you have at home, in your car, in the pantry, in the drawers. Even if you do use them you probably don’t need another. And most promotional items purchased in bulk with a logo are not of high quality.

Set a limit for the number of cloth bags, water bottles, sticky pads, pens, and other free stuff that you allow by containing them. Literally, put them in a container such as a box, basket, bin, or section of a drawer. That container designates how many you can have and when it’s full, you purge.

Clean out free coloring books and fast food toys weekly if necessary. Learn to say “no, thanks” to another freebie. Best of all, adopt a one in, one out policy for these items that tend to accumulate.

Junk Mail. Junk mail is unfortunately just another sad fact of life. It will always be in your mailbox but you don’t have to let it into your home. Toss it immediately in your recycle bin before it even gets a chance to cross your threshold.

To reduce it, cancel catalog and magazine subscriptions if you’re not reading them. Purposefully purchase the ones you truly read and enjoy and you’ll save yourself money in the long run.

The Southern Coterie blog: "Clutter Creepers and How to Avoid Them" by Carrie Peeples (photo: Teresa Earnest for 2016 WOM workshop)
Have magazines you love? Keep them! If you’re not reading them and have no use for them, go ahead and cancel that subscription. Photo Teresa Earnest from the 2016 WOM workshop

Register for to remove your name from financial and insurance promotional offers. This won’t get rid of all mailers but it will help cut down the quantity of credit card and life insurance offers you receive via mail.

Be on alert for other Clutter Creepers that attempt to invade your home. Other stealthy examples are: plastic grocery bags, paper shopping bags, fragrance and cosmetics samples, plastic cups with straws, wire hangers. It takes a watchful eye, but you can save your sanity and your family from these organization predators. Say “no” to free stuff, set limits by containing, and regularly purge any item that attempts to disrupt your organized spaces. 🙂


Carrie Peeples View More Blog Posts from this Author

Carrie Peeples is a life saver for people who are too busy to get their homes organized. Her specialty is creating beautiful & functional organization systems that makes you feel like you’re in control again.
Through her proven process of evaluating how you function in your home and clearing clutter, she’s here to organize your home and teach you the steps to manage it on your own.

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