Imagine this: a tidy kitchen counter, an organised closet, a clean smelling house. If you’re busy working, raising a family, and keeping your social life together, this may seem more like a dream. But really, it’s not that easy. It’s all about the art of letting go, letting go of the clutter, that is. Our parents and grandparents may be of the generations that grew up with less, and therefore had to stockpile to get through Depressions and Wars, but we’re not them! It’s time to take a look at the behaviour behind your clutter –why is it accumulating in your house, and more to the point, why are you letting it?
“Keep it Simple, Stupid” – good words to live by
We live in an age of excess and we’re all consumers, even those of us who subscribe to eco-living with our electric cars and cycle lanes: it’s all consumerism in the end. So the idea of living a simple, uncluttered life sounds attractive to many of us – we’re practically drowning in all of our things. We’re not entirely thoughtless – we know that there are obvious benefits to having fewer possessions, one of them being having more money. We want less to clean, less to store, less to organise, and definitely less debt. If you’re ready to de-clutter, you’ve already won half the battle.
There’s a real mental block when it comes to de-cluttering one’s house. You might start to feel defeated, and you might not know where to start at all. But your de-cluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as you’re making out to be. The one thing you’ve got to keep in mind is that there’s a beautiful, clean world of freedom underneath all of your junk. You just need to make the first steps in removing it.
Winter Time is Best
When it’s hot outside and the sun is shining the last thing you want to do is go through your house throwing out your things. Well, good news, it’s winter! And winter time is the perfect time to start de-cluttering your home.
Coming into winter our houses are cold and damp. The more clutter you have lying around, there’s an increased risk of mould and other allergens, like dust and dust mites, over-running your house. If your home is full of clothes, fabrics, papers and wood, you’re going to have trouble. All of those surfaces will collect more dust, and will hold moisture.
But you’re not alone and having a bunch of stuff is nothing to be ashamed of! If you feel like you’re suffocating in your own house, you might have a problem with clutter, to the point of hoarding. Don’t worry! It’s all removable especially with a little help. The sooner you move it out, the better as this clutter may seem innocuous, but it’s actually damaging to your health.
Having a cluttered house can make you feel like you’re suffocating, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Household clutter can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Here are some of the problems with having a cluttered home:
- Your allergies can be triggered by dust mites, dander, and moulds
- Your immune system is compromised by the germs
- The risk of fire is increased
- The risk of injury is high
- Your stress and anxiety increases
- You can be ostracised from your friends and family
Hoarding: It’s a Thing
There are clutter-bugs and then there are hoarders.
Hoarders hold onto every little thing: recipts, newspapers, takeaway containers, and tomato sauce packets – you name it, hoarders are saving it. If your clutter problem is bordering on hoarding, there’s no amount of organisation that’s going to change you. Hoarding is a behavioural issue, and can only be cured through therapy.
Studies on alleged hoarders that show their brains function differently when faced with eliminating clutter. Brain scans have found a massive activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with decision-making and planning. Hoarders struggle with making the decision of letting their things go – this is why their possessions pile up over time and their homes become uninhabitable. There’s a way out of this. Getting rid of your junk is a form of self-care and the more people control their clutter, the more they take better care of themselves.
There are a lot of reasons behind the clutter in your house. Here are the most common ones:
- Indication of self-worth
- Anchors to the past
- Comfort (from shopping therapy)
- Symbol of being loved
A massive amount of clutter can also be an indication of an underlying serious health issue. Some people who have suffered brain injuries or emotional trauma simply cannot deal with making the decision to throw something away. Sometimes cleaning the house can be an impossible task. This kind of disorganization can also stem from chronic pain, ongoing grief, ADHD and depression.
Ten Ways to De-Clutter Your Life
Here are our top ten ways to de-clutter your life. Good luck!
- Stop and think before you buy something new. Try shopping with a level of mindfulness and presence. Ask yourself: “Can I live without this?” If the answer is “YES!”walk away and don’t look back.
- Give away one of your things every day. This can be to goodwill, or to a friend. It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up!
- Go through your house with a trash bag and put anything in there that you haven’t used in 6 months. You’ll be surprised at how much stuff you don’t use!
- Try the ‘Closet Hanger Experiment’. Hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear something, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months you’ll have a clear indication of the clothes you can get rid of. This experiment can be applied to a number of other clutter areas in your home, especially toys!
- Start small. You can start de-cluttering your drawers and shelves before tackling that precious closet of yours!
- Change your perspective of your house by asking a friend to come over to help you de-clutter. Preferably a close enough friend that won’t judge you! The hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.
- Don’t just organise your clutter in fancy boxes – you’ve got to actually get rid of it! Rearranging the clutter won’t fix your problem.
- Experiment. Try the Project 333 challenge and see if you can wear 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. Adjust the rules to suit yourself, but don’t go crazy as in 300 items for 3 months! Challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment. Bet you feel lighter!
- Take things you don’t use that often and put them in a box. If you can go a few weeks without missing them, or you’ve forgotten about them altogether, then toss that box!
- Call us to give you a hand! If you’ve found that you’ve got too much stuff to get rid of, you can hire us to come and pick it up!
You’ve been telling yourself that you’ll clean up your act and get rid of the clutter for months now, maybe even years. Well guess what? You don’t even believe it! Remember, it doesn’t have to be that hard! With the proper help and the right attitude, you’ll be de-cluttering that house of yours in no time. Whether you want to get rid of a few things or get rid of all the things, we’re here to help you!
- About compulsive hoarding – things you should know http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-things-you-should-know-about-compulsive-hoarding/6787/
- How hoarders’ brains are different http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/07/inside-the-hoarders-brain-a-unique-problem-with-decision-making/
- Hoarding – how to let go http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/15/let-go