Do you have too much clutter in your home? Do you cringe every time you open a closet door and see the overflowing shelves? Learn how the emotional toll of clutter can have a negative impact on your life, and what you can do about it.
The Emotional Toll Of Clutter
It doesn’t matter if the clutter is on your desk or in a closet, having too many things around you can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. Which results in decreased performance and increased stress.
Everyone has a different tolerance for clutter in their life. Some people need a little bit of mess around them to feel inspired and get work done.
Unfortunately, that is not me. Clutter and me do not get along very well!
Just looking at this picture of our pantry from a few years ago stresses me out! There was so much stuff on the shelves that we could never find anything. Every time I opened the pantry door, seeing the mess caused me some anxiety. If you’d like to see what our pantry looks like now, click here.
When we renovated our house a few years ago, the 6 week project quickly became a 4 1/2 month nightmare. The worst part for me was having to live and work in the mess and chaos. For me, it was emotionally stressful to live with all of our rooms in a jumbled mess. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. I had a hard time getting anything done because of the jumbled clutter that was in our house and in my head. No joke, I even started having panic attacks!
Controlling the clutter in your home can help ease your stress, and can also help make you more productive in your daily life.
If you can control your clutter, your life will get easier. You won’t be as stressed, and you’ll get more done each day.
I know when I clean up my sewing workroom at the end of the day, I’m much more productive when I come down to work the next day. The same with my desk. If it’s piled with notes, (I have to make notes about everything!) then my brain gets clogged up and I don’t get as much work done until I clean off my desk.
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How To Get Rid Of Clutter
So, how do you get rid of the clutter in your home? I’m going to give you some tips that worked for me, and hopefully they’ll help you control the clutter in your home and in your mind.
I’m pretty sure I have what they call “decluttering paralysis”. I get overwhelmed with the thought of trying to organize a space, so I put it off. BUT, over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to get over that issue!
For those of you that have tried unsuccessfully to get things organized (and for those of you that just plain don’t know where to start), I just want to say that you can do it. It may not be easy, and it may not be able to be done in a week, but it is possible. All you need to do is take that first step to conquering your decluttering paralysis. Your feet may feel heavy at first, but with each step they will get lighter and you will learn new habits to help you along the way. The journey will be well worth it!
Work on one area at a time –
- Don’t try to tackle the whole house at once. If you do, you’ll probably get burned out way before you finish the job. Try to start with the area that is bothering you the most.
- Tackle one area of the house at a time. When it’s done, then move on to the next area. This is what I’ve done in our house. Over the last two years I’ve cleared the clutter and organized our pantry, laundry room, linen closet, coat closet and under the bathroom sink. I still need to work on under the kitchen sink, kitchen cupboards, junk drawer and a couple of closets. It’s taking me a while to organize each space, but once each space is organized it is staying organized for the first time!
- Set a timer for 15 minutes each day, and try to get as much done as you can in that 15 minutes. You can do anything for 15 minutes!
Remove the items that you haven’t used for a long time – Now I know this is easier said than done, but hopefully these tips will help.
- If you have an emotional attachment to an item or items, it will probably be very hard for you to get rid of it. But try to think of it this way. You may not need the item and it’s cluttering up your house (and your mind), but if you donate the item to a thrift store it may greatly benefit someone else’s life.
- Start your de-cluttering process with 3 large garbage bags or boxes. One will be for items you’re throwing away, one for items you’re donating and the last for items you’re keeping. With each item, decide if it will be thrown away, donated or kept. If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing for more than a year, it’s probably time to get rid of it. The author of the bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, goes one step further. She says that all of the items in your house need to bring you joy. If an item doesn’t bring you joy, then you need to remove it from your home.
- When you start de-cluttering, don’t leave the bags of donations or trash in your house. It’s so easy to put off donating or throwing items away, and all you end up doing is moving the items from one place to another in your house. Try to immediately take the items to Goodwill, a thrift store, or to the trash. We have city yards where we live, so when I have big items that I know won’t fit into the garbage cans, I try to put the items in the van right away and take them to city yards.
Re-organize what’s left –
- After you’ve removed the clutter from an area, clean it and put the remaining items back in the area in a more organized way.
- Organizing bins, baskets and trays can help you organize the items that are left. They also help KEEP your items organized so that you don’t end up with a cluttered mess again in a few months!
- Use the vertical space in the area. It was a lightbulb moment for me when I finally figured out that that I was wasting so much valuable vertical space! Here’s an example of wasted vertical space under our bathroom sink. Here’s how I organized the area under our bathroom sink so that the vertical space wasn’t being wasted. You can get more info about how I organized under our bathroom sink here.
Remove the clutter from your mind – The emotional toll of clutter doesn’t have to only be from the clutter in your home to be a problem. There can also be an emotional toll on your mind from trying to remember all of your to-do lists, or even listening to the dings of messages, etc. coming in from your phone. These things in your mind can also have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information.
- Start a bullet journal – A couple of months ago, I started a bullet journal. I learned about bullet journals from a blogger friend. I’m so glad I started using one! A bullet journal can be done many different ways. If you look on Pinterest, the bullet journals you see can be very complex and overwhelming. Which defeats the purpose of using one! Try to keep it simple. You can purchase a simple notebook to use as your bullet journal. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I would recommend a notebook that has lined pages. I use my bullet journal to write down in one place all of the numerous notes I write every day. Usually I have notes all over my desk, nightstand and counter tops. In the past few years, I’ve learned that I have to write things down, or I’ll forget them. I use the bullet journal to do a brain dump. I write down the numerous ideas I have for blog posts, decorating and DIY projects, and other things I need to keep track of – like to-do lists for the day. It’s been great to have one place to write things down. I made a table of contents in the front of the journal. When I write on a page in the journal, I number that page and give it a title. Then I write the page number and title on a line in the table of contents. So, I can always find my notes about a topic. Doing this process to help me remember things has cleared some of my mental stress.
- Turn off phone notifications – Another way you can remove the clutter from your brain is to turn off notifications on your phone. Every time you hear that ding on your phone, it interrupts your thinking process, and you aren’t as productive as you could be. I’ve turned off the notifications on my phone from Instagram and Facebook, and it’s been a fabulous help in keeping me on task!
I hope these tips help you control the emotional toll of clutter in your life, and help you become less stressed and more productive!
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