Walking around with a pocket full of clutter

Taking a long walk is an activity I enjoy. I like clearing my mind and absorbing in the sights of the city where I live. I tend to walk for miles on my journeys. The end result is a satisfying experience. The one thing that used to plague my mind during these walks was the amount of clutter that used to lay claim to my pockets. In my case, and possibly in yours, clutter was in the form of an oversized wallet, too much spare change, an over stuffed key ring, and some “just in case” items.

Pocket clutter is very similar to clutter that may be around your home. You hold on to things that you may need “just in case.” I’m not sure what that “just in case” may be, but it seems to be the root of a lot of people’s clutter problems. Many of us feel the need to hold onto an item because: A. “We may need it in the future, so we should hold on to it just in case.”or B. “We paid good money for it.” Either one of these justifications are very common and they are a hindrance to becoming uncluttered.

Try and trim your walking around clutter to clear your mind and you’ll enjoy your out and about time. Hopefully, the links above can help you trim the clutter that you may be carrying around in your pockets.

21 Comments for “Walking around with a pocket full of clutter”

  1. posted by Tim on

    I hate carrying stuff in my pockets but working in a technical field I have found it good practice to carry at minimum my pocket multitool and a USB thumb drive. My keyring is limited to keys I use at least once a week. I never carry change. Thin your wallet by not returning an item back to your wallet. Instead just put it in your pocket. After a week, anything still left in your wallet needs to go somewhere else.

  2. posted by Michael on

    My top “pocket-clutter-reducing” tip is this: Stop carrying around coupons (except during a planned shopping trip). This has two effects:

    1) Even though it might seem like an expensive proposition, I actually end up spending *less* this way. Now, when I find something I want at a store, I say to myself, “Hey, if only I’d brought that coupon with me…I’ll hold off on buying this thing now.” Then I only return to buy the thing if it’s truly a “must-have.”

    2) My lower back thanks me. 🙂

  3. posted by Andamom on

    Since I believe I have commented on the wallet and key posting, I thought I’d bring up the conversation my husband and I had with a friend of his last night. It went something like this:

    Me: You know [husband] still does the two handed pocket dump nightly. He takes all of the receipts, change, wallet, and other stuff from his pockets out of his pants. Then, the next morning, without going through most of it, he returns everything to a new pair of pant pockets.

    Husband: Yeah, but I need those receipts and pieces of paper for work (most are related to his job in IT).

    Friend: I used to have a bowl where I dumped stuff nightly. Then, my wife bought me a valet. It is a catchall with a place for my wallet, keys, and related stuff. The one I have also has a place for my clothes so that the next morning when I get up before the crack of dawn, it doesn’t take me very long to get ready. I no longer keep my change with me.

    Husband and Me: Hmmm

    Friend: It has really saved me and I am less stressed in the morning.

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Andamom — I LOVE the idea of a valet! Thank you for mentioning it!!

  5. posted by John of Indiana on

    I HATE full pockets! I carry:
    $1 worth of change, mostly quarters.
    Swiss Army knife.
    #7 Opinel knife (holds an edge longer than the S.A.)
    House keys
    Thumb drive

    Of course, I carry more keys than Captain Kangaroo on a carribiner, but those are job-related and a Necessary Evil, just like the CrackBerry…

    And all the pocket stuff goes into a tray every night on top of the dresser and gets culled through in the morning.

  6. posted by Drew Bell on

    Two recent purchases have greatly reduced my pocket clutter:

    1) iPhone. Phone + iPod + internet reference book. Easy answer if you’ve got the $400, right?

    2) SlimSlimmy front pocket wallet. It’s really wonderful. I’m down to my driver’s license, insurance card, personal debit card, business debit card, and some cash. Any other cards are for single tasks, and I can bring them along when I head out of the house. My library card doesn’t need to be on my person at all times.

    I posted a picture of the new setup.

  7. posted by Marie on

    I find that my machete clutters my pockets most. I’ve remedied this problem by downgrading to a smaller, more compact machete.

  8. posted by bakelite doorbell on

    B. “We paid good money for it.”

    My current thinking on this justification is that the money that was spent to buy it is gone forever. That transaction is history and cannot change. The money that no longer exists should have no bearing on present and future decisions.

  9. posted by Autofac on

    I never have pocket clutter.

    I hate the feeling of things being in my pockets. My normal pocket wear is a wallet containing no bills and 3 cards, sometimes my cell phone in a front pocket but it is normally in my jacket.

    I don’t even carry change, I am a debit slave.

  10. posted by Jana S. on

    The “just in case” mentality sounds very familiar! I think it would be interesting to read some more about some of the psychological issues pertaining to clutter.

  11. posted by Jill on


    I tried carrying an actual purse once and left it behind in so many stores that I walked an extra mile in the mall recovering it. I put key-less deadbolts on my house doors so I have one key (my car key) on a “dog clip” to clip to my belt loop, or, this time of year, to a keyring sewn to the inside of my jacket pocket. My cell phone, driver’s license, debit card, insurance card and thumb drive all go in an ankle holster I made from a “police” pistol ankle holster. It’s so easy to access that most people don’t even notice me doing it. Cash goes into my front pocket and I empty my pockets of coins when I get home. By the end of the week, I have enough money in change to buy pizza for our dinner (of course, I take the time to roll it so the delivery guy doesn’t freak!)
    Any of the other stuff that most women carry everywhere in their purses (gum, tissues, etc) are in my car console. Do I really need to carry them with me when I run into a store for a gallon of milk?
    Any papers (receipts, notes, numbers) that I collect during the day go into my front pocket and I sort them at the end of the day. I LOVE Pocket Mod (http://www.pocketmod.com/) – if you fold it properly, it has a little pocket for receipts, etc, and my to-do list is easily updated on my computer every morning and with hand written notations throughout the day.

  12. posted by vanessa on

    Jill, do you always wear long pants?

  13. posted by STL Mom on

    My pocket are empty – but I carry a purse that might be more accurately described as a tote bag. I keep trying to downsize, but just end up carrying a purse AND a bag. Then what I want is always in the bag that I left in the car because I did’t think I needed it.
    Uncluttering is great, but I need the security of always having a book or a crossword puzzle with me in case of emergency (i.e. boredom).

  14. posted by Jill on

    I don’t always wear long pants. If I (rarely) wear shorts, I use my Amphipod wallet (VERY cool – http://www.amphipod.com/080/101.html) which has the same storage ability as the ankle holster.
    If I wear a skirt or dress, I use the ankle holster on my thigh like a garter. It has a wide neoprene band with lots of velcro so it stay put nicely. Plus, I get a little thrill when my phone vibrates (kidding…maybe that’s wishful thinking…)


  15. posted by Skrutzen on

    i use a jimi wallet. I have yet to find anything better!

  16. posted by ellay on

    To me, being uncluttered goes with being frugal, i.e. a minimalist. So, I cannot see spending $25.00 for any kind of wallet.

    Here’s my all purpose solution – I got an old canvas card case and attached a pocket clip (from an old glasses case). This contains all the essentials that used to go in a wallet in my purse – driver’s license, insurance card, bank cards, voter id, etc.; plus any folding money I need.

    This little case is now a pocket that I slip inside my waist band. Only the clip shows on the outside (which is usually covered by a shirt or blouse anyway). It is very easy to access.

    As to keys, I always keep my ‘essential keys’ (2) in my pocket on a flat fob.

    In this way, whether I carry a purse or not, should it be lost or stolen, I’ve got all my identity stuff and security (keys) stuff on me.

    The converted case came as a result of trying those travelers’ thingies that either have to be displayed around your waist or around your neck and scream, “Here’s my important stuff”.

  17. posted by 1st Mate on

    I’m in Mexico, living on a boat for a couple of months, and since I don’t have a car, when I go ashore I find I always need my backpack. Burdensome, but even more so is carrying three or four plastic bags if for instance I come across the veggie man’s truck and want to do some provisioning. I need my passport (so a dinky wallet won’t do), my Spanish/English dictionary, some hand cleaner and a pack of tissues, a baseball cap, cell phone or VHF radio, toilet paper, often a map…Yet even with all that I can usually stuff in a few bananas, tomatoes, oranges, avocados and a pack of tortillas. For big provisioning trips I fold and take along a giant tote bag.

  18. posted by Duncan on

    I buy coats and light jackets specifically for their “carrying capacity” and generaly call my coat my “man-purse.” I keep many “just in case” items in it like LED light, lighter (I don’t smoke), small knife, a pen, a bit of change, pepper-spray, breath-mints, cough drops (mints and coughdrops used fairly frequently)… actually the coat keeps my from cluttering my car, my work desk and home with numerous duplicate stashes of said items.

  19. posted by Scott on

    I made a conscious effort to eliminate pocket clutter earlier this year. I used to carry a wallet that was at least 2″ thick with various cards, a phone, a PDA, watch (ok, not technically in my pocket), and a keychain with every key I’d used in the last 5 years and some keychain junk – and that was the bare minimum I left the house with. I felt ridiculous when I went to the chiropractor and had to unload my pockets before getting a treatment. It was a like a clown car, thing after thing kept coming out of my pocket.

    I’ve since greatly reduced. I carry an iPhone, which functions as my phone, PDA, and note-taking device. It’s also a big reference tool, as I never have to print directions to bring with me, carry a bus or movie schedule, or otherwise bring random slips of paper with me.

    Even better is that I can scan other important cards and docs that I’d otherwise carry in my wallet and sync them with Evernote and have them available. So, instead of carrying around all six of my health insurance cards (I’m covered by two plans), I only carry around my primary health one and have the others scanned and available on my phone if I should need them.

    I’ve also scrapped all but two “rewards” cards in favor of a contact in my phone with the membership numbers. I also bought an All-Ett (thinnestwallet.com) that carries everything I need (drivers license, med card, two debit cards, business credit card, personal credit card, costco card, two rewards cards, library card (I work from there frequently), starbucks card (for free wifi), and some business cards, plus cash and a slot for receipts – all in less than a cm thick.

    On my keychain, I eliminated all but the absolute essential. Instead of carrying keys for my parent’s homes and my safe deposit box and the garage door and the side gate and such, I’ve relegated these to another keychain which I keep in my car, since I’d need to drive to get to these places anyway. I also got rid of the other keychain junk. I now have a very simple set of keys: one car key, one car alarm, home key, and a special swiss army knife. It’s plastic and very lightweight and along with the usual scissors, knife, and file, it also comes with an led light and a ballpoint pen.

  20. posted by John on

    As a kilt wearer, I usually have decent storage space in my sporran, so, usually have the keys, wallet (with built-in coin purse), and cell phone inside. Since it’s been warmer, I have swapped the kilts for pleated knee-length skirts (no, not as a crossdresser, just as a man in a skirt). Most of the time, there are no pockets. I’d rather not wear the sporran or a waist pack when I’m out and about. So, I’ve been putting the phone in the coin purse part of the wallet, then running the leather strap that keeps the wallet closed through the key ring. I need to find something a bit less cumbersome, and that doesn’t require me to keep my wallet and keys in one hand, unless I have my book bag. Thinking that something like a thigh holster might work well for the phone and the wallet, then find a way to clip the keys to the waistband of whatever skirt I’m wearing @ the time. Any suggestions?

  21. posted by Elaine on

    Why do women always seem to end up as “carriers?” Watch the average city block for 15 minutes and it’s clear that women almost always have something in their hands or over their arms, whereas men can walk down the street holding absolutely nothing and look normal. In less developed countries it’s the same: Women are either carrying food or children from one place or another. Men carry nothing or perhaps one specific tool. How strange the way it cuts across all cultures and socioeconomic strata. I’m sure there are some scholarly writings on this…

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