If you were to look around your personal space or your home office, what would you see? Would you see order, maybe some unfolded clothes, or would you see a mountain of clutter? Most people have a least one messy or cluttered area in their home or office, whether it be the junk drawer, the forbidden closet, or the garage where you use to park your car.
Having clutter is a common thing. In fact, having a little bit of mess can aid in creativity. But left unchecked, a little bit of clutter can turn into a big problem. Sometimes we accumulate clutter because of our responsibilities or our attachment to things. Other times it’s emotional and mental stress that makes things pile up. This is why decluttering is becoming more of a lifestyle choice — a necessary tool in relieving stress and taking control of our lives.
Decluttering, the removing of unnecessary or unwanted items, has many benefits. Here’s why getting rid of stuff you don’t use is so important, and how to get started on decluttering your life.
Decluttering improves mental health
Cluttered spaces make it hard to focus. Loose papers and random knickknacks strewn across the floor and desktops call your attention away from your work. Clutter makes it harder to find what you need. Having an organized space clears your mind, and allows you to focus. Organizing and throwing things out helps promote skills such as decision-making and problem-solving. It forces you to look at every item and ask yourself if is this something you need or something that is taking up space.
Decluttering reduces stress
It can seem ironic that the reason we have clutter is because of stress, yet keeping the clutter around adds to our stress. According to Dr. Bhavna Barmi, a Delhi-based clinical psychologist, people prefer order and symmetry. When things are out of order, we tend to feel anxious and scattered. If you’re feeling stressed out, try rearranging your space. If you’ve been having tensions between your roommate, husband/wife, or anyone you share space with, the clutter might be to blame.
Decluttering saves time and money
Let’s be honest: we have too much stuff. We live in a consumer society where buying four bottles of ketchup for the price of two is the norm, even though we know we may never use that much ketchup. When we declutter, we see how much money we spent on things we didn’t use. With this realization, the next time we are at the store we can learn to buy only what is necessary. Along with saving money, decluttering and reorganizing saves you time. When you want to go play tennis over the weekend, you can locate your equipment instead of digging a tunnel through the junk in your garage to find a single racket.
Decluttering improves self-esteem and quality of life
Decluttering is an act of letting go, often of things that serve no purpose in our life or that have an emotional connection to the past. When you’re able to let go of those emotional items, it means you are ready to move on, to let go of the past, and to start a better future. Your quality of life improves because you are living in a space that reflects who you are now and who you want to be instead of former habits or relationships.
How to start decluttering
The important thing to remember is that decluttering is not a one-time thing. As long as Amazon Prime and Target exist, we are going to accumulate things. So, when you decided to take on decluttering, make it a routine thing. You can even set a calendar schedule of when you want to declutter, such as once every two months or every change of season. Julianna Poplin, a professional declutterer and creator of the Simplicity Habit, says to think of decluttering as making space for something new. This framework can take the pressure off of trying to get rid of numerous things.
Along with this practice, asking yourself what are you creating space for can help you create a goal. With goal setting, it’s important to focus on how you want to feel once the goal is met or once decluttering is done. This can help the task feel less daunting and less like a chore.
After your goal is set, you might be feeling super ambitious. Take that new energy and start small. If you try doing too much at one time, there’s a higher chance of not following through and becoming discouraged. Naeemah Ford Goldson of Restore Order Professional Organizing recommends starting in a small space such as a junk drawer. After you conquer the smaller spaces then you can move onto the bigger spaces like your walk-in the closet or the garage.
What to do with sentimental items?
Many of us are familiar with Marie Kondo’s way of identifying which items spark joy. But what if all your handbags spark joy? Tosh Patterson, a personal coach and counselor, recommends that if you have many of the same things, choose one item to keep. For example, if you’ve collected dolls from your childhood, keep your very first doll and donate the rest. If you’re not willing to donate some items, look to see how you can repurpose them. Patterson mentioned, in a YouTube interview, how a friend repurposed old marathon T-shirts by turning them into a quilt.
Do a declutter challenge
If you’re needing a little guidance and direction on where to start, there are tons of 30-day challenges on Pinterest. The challenges have pre-selected sections and instructions that will tell you which areas to focus on each day.
Find a decluttering partner
Like going to the gym, decluttering can be easier with a partner. Cleaning out the hall closet can be a great project for your family or whoever you share your home space with.
Decluttering doesn’t mean that you need to become a minimalist. It’s a way to alleviate unnecessary stress and help you live a happier and easier life. Often, the way we keep our space is a reflection of what’s happening internally. The chaos on the outside reflects the chaos on the inside. If you are looking for more ease and peace, decluttering can help you get there.
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Kiersten is a freelance writer and coach. As a writer, she has written for Travel Noire, Passion Passport, BAUCE mag, and various travel and lifestyle blogs. As a writer, her goal is to write content that inspires others to take action. As a coach, her goal is to empower women to be their most authentic selves. In her free time, you can find her dancing to any song any where.