We’re all guilty of it; we hold on to something because “we might need it later” — but have you ever considered that all this accumulated stuff could be affecting our mental health? The truth is that clutter can be a source of stress. Clutter and disorganization can overwhelm the senses (visual and olfactory), be distracting, and lead to feelings of guilt and frustration. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, 65% of Americans feel that their home is disorganized. Organizing and getting rid of clutter can often be a daunting task, so here are 5 helpful tips to get you started:
- Rome wasn’t built in a day: if you feel that you have too much to handle, start small. Pick one room or area and dedicate a predetermined amount of time to just that space.
- Make a list and schedule: break down different areas of your home into manageable spaces, prioritize which areas you want to focus on the most, and set a schedule for yourself.
- See the full project to the end: don’t fall into the trap of “I’ll take this to Goodwill/trash/friend’s house tomorrow.” As part of your schedule, allot time to dispose of these items. This may mean multiple trips to Goodwill, but when you start seeing progress, it will help keep you motivated to continue.
- Recruit roommates and family members: If you live with others, chances are the mess isn’t yours alone. Include everyone in your household in the fun! Play music, make a competition out of it, or make it a group bonding event.
- Fill one trash bag a week: Don’t have time to dedicate more than a few minutes a day? No big deal, focus on one bag for 15 minutes a day. By the end of the month, you will have logged almost 7.5 hours.
Items that clutter:
- Clothes you don’t wear: Try the hanger trick. Turn all your closet hangers around so that the round end is facing away from you. When you wear something, re-hang it with the hanger facing the right direction. After a couple of months, it will be clear what clothes you wear and what you don’t wear. Have you considered donating old formal wear? There are organizations that will re-purpose old prom dresses, wedding wear, and suits to people in need.
- Expired products: Old make-up, medications, spices, canned/processed foods. If you haven’t used them recently, you don’t need them and they should be tossed.
- VHS tapes, CDs, and DVDs: In the Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify age, our movie and music collections are right at our fingertips. Unless you feel strongly that old Animal House VHS will be a collector’s item, trust us and donate, sell, or toss.
- Paper: Get rid of old newspapers, magazines, junk mail, receipts, old holiday cards, birth announcements, wedding invitations, take out menus, etc. Anything that you must keep (i.e. taxes, warranties), you can file in an accordion organizer or electronically. If you are really attached to the photo cards, start a photo album and move them from the fridge to the album after a couple of months of display.
- Books: Do you really need that freshman year biology book? Guess what, after several years, books come out with new editions because research and information is changing so rapidly. Also, did we forget to mention this little thing called the world-wide web? Everything you could ever want to look up is right at your fingertips. Only keep books that you reference or read often.
- Games: The clay is hard, it’s missing pieces, it never gets used – whatever it might be, it’s taking up space and can probably go.
- Old Electronics: Unless you have a buddy that can bring that 2010 computer back to life, you can probably go ahead and donate it.
Once you get yourself organized, set small goals for yourself to keep the clutter out. Maybe once a month go through the house to make sure there aren’t things that can get tossed or donated. Also, create a habit of putting items back in their place once you’re done using them. This will limit the daily clutter. Happy decluttering!