I have a hard time, sitting still around the house. I really do. Part of it is that I’ve always had a hard time sitting still, and part of it is that when I sit down, I notice something that needs to be done. So I get back up to take care of it, and one thing leads to another, and by the time I’m able to sit down again, it’s time for bed, so there’s really no point!
See, I’ve never been much of a procrastinator. Unless I’m in a funk. Which is not very often. I like to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and I’m not really one to put things off until tomorrow.
Why do I do things in this crazy manner, you might ask? Well, I tend to function much better and much less-stressed when I know that my home is clean and my workspace is organized and I don’t have a list of things a mile long that need accomplishing. I also tend to have a much better day when all my ducks are in a row, and part of that comes from the fact that I really despise CLUTTER. It makes me feel like this:
Clutter is messy, and disorganized, and takes up space, and is overall unnecessary. I have always felt that when clutter begins to stack up, it prevents me from being the best me that I can be. So I work hard around our home and around my office to make sure that there is no “stuff” that can “clutter” any particular area. As a result of this, my husband would say that he takes out the trash far too often! But I don’t just throw things away. I re-purpose and give to others who can make use of items that I am not using. Because after all, if it’s going to just sit around at our house, why not give it to someone who will really use it?
So when Duane contacted me about this guest post, I jumped on it. First, because I felt that I needed to read it, and second, because I hoped it would be helpful to all of you! So I hope it helps you to see things around your home a little more clearly…literally and figuratively!
Stress and household clutter are the equivalent of chickens and eggs—it does not matter which came first, because one inevitably leads to the other. Ridding yourself of household clutter will short-circuit the stress and mess cycle, and return your home to the haven you long for.
Framing the Challenge
Just as Americans struggle with weight control because we are constantly exposed to images and messages about food, so do we fight against accumulation of possessions:
- We are accosted by coupons, regaled with rebates and bombarded with bargains in our mail, newspapers, television, e-mails and social media
- We are seduced by sales for things, stuff, decor, housewares, hardware, wearables and weirdness
- We are encouraged to shop and acquire and spend beyond our means
- We pursue immediate gratification while postponing pain by paying with credit cards
- Even our national conversation has been shaped to equate shopping with patriotism, and to consider money and spending as free speech
Acknowledging that this perpetual storm of sale baiting does not relieve, but adds to, our daily stress is the first step to shedding clutter and mental stress. Rise about the lures and reject the pursuit of more dustables, because no matter how much you de-clutter your home, if you keep bringing things in, you will never get ahead of the stress. Don’t want to throw away some items yet still want some space in your home? Take your extra items to a self storage unit and store them there. This way you don’t have to get rid of them!
Recognize the risks that home clutter causes. For some, it is simply a matter of misplacing car keys under a pile of unread mail. Many of us joke that we suffer from FSS–Flat Surface Syndrome, where any horizontal surface becomes a storehouse of clutter. But for many, clutter has other, more ominous effects:
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautions that household clutter encourages bedbugs
- Some fire departments actively fight against clutter and hoarding in their community members’ homes because of the risks to their firefighters; rescuers have become trapped under falling clutter, homes are unsearchable due to blocked doors and narrowed halls
- A cluttered home can increase symptoms of depression, anger, isolation and helplessness
After setting your mind to tune out the enticements to add to your home’s clutter, you need to think about what your goal is:
- View each room as it is currently, and then envision its ideal purpose.
- Set a hierarchy of rooms—is the living room more important than your bedroom? Perhaps you want your home office to be the first to get the de-cluttering treatment, or the kitchen; you control the choice.
- Decide how best to get that room to its proper purpose (this does not mean buying more organizing items, hiring expensive consultants, or painfully depriving yourself of sentimental treasures)
- Take that one room from current reality to ideal state before moving on to another room. By trying to de-clutter an entire house, your progress will be minimal. You will despair and possibly quit. By getting one room back to perfection, you will have a model to encourage you to persevere. You can conquer clutter!
Removing clutter is not a matter of buying more gadgets and labeling the junk drawer. Remove stress by removing items—permanently reduce the amount of possessions that possess you.
- Triage every item—save the treasure, sell or donate the unwanted, and throw out the trash. Two bins and a trash bag are all you need for this.
- One touch—from new mail to old clothes, touch an item once. Pick it up, put it in one of three destinations, and move on.
- Clock in, clock out—spend spare minutes, but no more than an hour per session, de-cluttering. More time leads to more pondering. Even five minutes is valuable using the triage strategy.
I must have read this post five times before I even published it. So many good points – I hope you thought so, too! Thanks so much for the post, Duane!
What is YOUR best tip for eliminating clutter?
Due to the amount of comments from all of my wonderful readers, it is not always possible for me to respond to each one. However, I absolutely do read them all, and if you’d like to address something specific, or have a question for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at Kristen@theroadtodomestication.com. I will respond to your email as soon as possible! Thank you for visiting the blog!