I’ve heard folks talk quite a bit about their New Year’s resolutions in the past week or so – you probably have, too! And something I keep hearing over and over from people is, “I’m gonna declutter my house!”
I’m right there, too. I have a whole list of spaces in my home that need some major decluttering, and I’ve already started on a few of them. But the other day, someone asked me why I was even bothering with it at all! They felt as if clutter was what happened when life happened, and there was nothing that could be done about it.
First of all, I don’t believe that for a second. Second of all, I know it’s not true in MY home, so I knew it couldn’t be true for everyone. And third, when Mackenzie Fox contacted me with a guest post on this very topic, I then had the facts to back up my assumptions! She puts it quite well, and gives us some simple steps to follow to get the decluttering process going! Read on…
Do you live in a highly-organized living space, or can you just not be bothered about the “creative” chaos that surrounds you? If you belong to the second category, you might want to re-consider your fondness of clutter for the following, very important reasons (quite a few of them are related to your health):
- Although you might think you are living in the perfect symbiosis with your clutter, the fact remains that it does cause stress and anxiety. Huffington Post conducted a survey which showed that a whopping 84% of people were worried that their homes were not clean or organized enough, while 42% feel anxious when their houses are unorganized and cluttered.
- Clutter does impede your ability to focus. How so? Simply put, when you look at clutter, your visual cortex is overloaded with images which, in turn, severely limits your brain’s ability to properly process information. The result? Confusion, agitation, and a mind that is too busy.
- Clutter affects your physical and mental health. People who use the words like “disorganized”, “messy” and “chaotic” to describe their home, proved to be more depressed, tired, and apathetic. Believe it or not, it all has to do with a stress hormone called cortisol which rises when we are faced, for instance, with a mountain of housework, to-do-lists and piles of laundry. High levels of cortisol negatively affect virtually everything that is important for your health – mood, sleep, appetite….not to mention all the dust and dirt that usually comes with clutter including decomposed insects, pollen, dead skin cells and even feces from dust mites.
- Clutter makes you less productive. When your home is in order and everything is in its proper place, your mind tends to be less distracted. Less distraction leads to better focus and better focus leads to higher productivity. A clearer and calmer mind can achieve much more than a preoccupied and stressed one.
- The last but an equally important reason for decluttering your home may come to you as a surprise. Did you know that a simple act of getting rid of your clutter and organizing your living environment can add up to 7% to the value of your home? A survey conducted by Homegain.com in 2012 showed that cleaning and organizing was considered the number one low-cost value improvement project for home owners.
From a decluttered to organized home
Decluttering is just the first but necessary step towards organizing your home. In order to start, you would need to nip the problem in the bud, i.e. identify what are the reasons for accumulating so much stuff that you really don’t need. The reasons are oftentimes of emotional nature – we suffered from lack in our childhood, or we feel safe when we are surrounded by a plethora of things, or we are holding onto the past or, everyone’s favorite, the “I might need this one day” excuse. Whatever your personal reason is, you need to identify it and face it head on before you start with the decluttering process. Once you do that, your next task is a proper organization of your living environment. Here are a few tips that will help you:
- Small steps – you might be tempted to clean and organize everything in one fell swoop. Don’t! You are going to get very tired very quickly and the whole process will start to look insurmountable. Set aside 2 or 3 hours a day the most and focus on one space / room at a time.
- Arm yourself with storage helpers – Boxes, big plastic containers, extra shelves, bins, and baskets will definitely come in handy. Again, don’t overdo it, otherwise you are going to have a stack of empty containers lying around, generating more clutter.
- Keep, donate, recycle, throw away – Sort your possessions into these four categories and be merciless. Forget about emotional attachment to things and let practicality take over. Keep things that you enjoy using and that you use every day. Recycle what can be recycled. Donate the things you don’t need or want to friends, family or local charities. Throw away things that are broken beyond repair or too old to be used.
When your home is finally decluttered, perfectly organized and clean, you will breathe a sigh of relief, as if a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You’ll feel lighter, happier, productive and filled with energy. According to some studies, even your romantic life will benefit from decluttering (yes, you read that right) because arguments about missing items, forgotten errands, and clothes lying on the floor will be the things of the past. Lighting candles in a clean, serene bedroom as opposed to a messy, overcrowded one becomes a romantic experience rather than a fire hazard!
Mackenzie is a mom of two beautiful children whom she’s trying to teach the importance of good organization. Besides being an organization warden, she likes to take the role of a junk food detective: no junk food allowed in her home.
I love how Mackenzie has made the process of decluttering simple! I’m going to incorporate her tips into what I’m already working on around my home – what about you? Do you have any tips to add?
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!