As with life, clutter happens. Drawer by drawer, room by room, inside and outside, hidden or visible, clutter begins to creep up and expand right before our very own eyes. The good news is we can actually learn to control the clutter before it takes over our homes by getting down to the root of the problem – ourselves.
According to Maid Brigade’s consumer research, a disorganized, messy home can cause personal discomfort, anxiety and depression. Clutter creates safety hazards, too. And it creates more surface area to collect dust, dust mites, pollen, pet dander and other allergy and asthma triggers – a big deal especially this time of year. So….controlling clutter can help improve quality of life.
But before we even begin to lessen our stress by de-cluttering, we need to understand exactly why we clutter in the first place. Is it a personality “quirk” or is it triggered by certain events, people, emotions or other stimuli? Or do we just have too much stuff? Or is it a result of over-committing in work, the community, church, children’s schools, or other areas? Very few people actually enjoy straightening and cleaning, so we become very adept at making other things – anything – a higher priority.
Before trying to tackle clutter, taking an inward look can help understand the root of the problem. And this understanding may lead to a permanent solution. In addition to understanding, you need techniques to control, contain and clear out clutter.
Here are 7 common clutter scenarios and tips to get past them:
- Piles. Many people who are not even sure what clutter is. This is why a problem goes unnoticed until the situation is way out of hand. When valuable or cherished items start turning into “piles of stuff”, the cluttering process has begun. Find a place to store these items together, out of the way – in a drawer, cabinet, cubby or closet.
- Collections. The items we cannot let go of, the sentimental items that bring us joy, we become emotionally attached to. but how long is it appropriate to hold onto items? When should we know it’s time to start donating, selling, tossing, or keeping them? A good rule of thumb is to visit these collections once a year (if you don’t, do you really need to keep them???) to both enjoy them and ask yourself, “Is it time to say goodbye to this item and keep its memory in my heart?” Be honest. Letting sentimental items go, or storing them properly, is a big part of the de-cluttering process.
- Spatially challenged. The question, “how long should I hold on to something?” goes hand in hand with, “how do I store things the correct way?” Not knowing how to store your items properly always ends up as clutter. Search online for products that can help you organize clothes, shoes, craft supplies, work tools, magazines and more. Looking at the product shots will help you improvise solutions that can work, even if you don’t buy the products.
- No routine. Without set routines for cleaning, storing and organizing, the house and everything in it will quickly become a complete mess. Learning to de-clutter one drawer a day, or fifteen minutes each day, or any set practice can help establish a routine that will help tremendously with clutter control.
- Container aversion. Sometimes people prefer not use storage containers because they tend to be expensive and can at times cause more clutter. If this is the case, try using small boxes, jars, trays, Ziploc bags, hooks or baskets to store smaller items such as remotes, mail, nail polishes or rubber bands.
- Micro clutter. Your clutter is always the same types of items. As crazy as it sounds, some people tend to clutter up the same specific areas of their home but be neat in others. For example, the kitchen cabinets might be spotless and organized to the max, but the pantry is a disaster. Or, the dresser drawers are neat and organized but the closet is a mess. If this is you, find a way to dial this area into your routine, then stick to the program. The good news is, because this is isolated clutter, it won’t take long to address if you do it often.
- Abundance. Buying more then you need is a biggie and it comes in all forms. People go on shopping sprees and buy clearance items, not because they need them but because they are on sale. Others will buy items because they are “cute” but will never use them. Some of us even buy the latest and greatest items and only use them once. Then there are the “dream” buyers, who sign up for yoga, cooking, or painting classes, buy all the equipment, and never go back to class. Be smart and think before you buy! Or adopt the one-in-one-out rule: if you buy something new, something else must be donated, recycled or handed down.
If clutter is a problem for you, take some time for introspection, then use the scenarios and tips above to help you get clutter under control, once and for all. With the clutter, away will go anxiety, depression and poor quality of life. Although it may not be enjoyable, de-cluttering has very important benefits. You’ll see – even small accomplishments will have a positive results, making it easier to achieve more. Just like in life.