Clutter. It's something we all deal with, and it can be incredibly overwhelming. There is a strong link between a messy home and the manifestation of depression and anxiety, but it's also bad for our physical health. Studies have shown that living in a cluttered home can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain, trouble sleeping, and a weakened immune system.
Although it may feel as though the rest of your household doesn't seem to notice the mess, our families are feeling the negative effects of the clutter, too. It's been shown that a chaotic home environment may be a contributing factor to behavioral problems in children. Cluttered homes also tend to report lower levels of cooperation and stressed parents aren't able to parent the way they wish that they could.
On top of all that, it's just plain ol' frustrating spending so much time searching for things we own but can't find!
The good news is that there are steps we can take to declutter our homes and our lives. In this blog post, we'll break down the overwhelming task of decluttering into three manageable steps. We'll also provide some tips and tricks for implementing systems that will work well for your unique household. So let's get started!
Step 1: Break It Down into Smaller Tasks
The first step to conquering the clutter is to break down the task into smaller, more manageable pieces. This means setting aside some time each day—even if it's just 15 minutes—to work on decluttering.
Focus on a specific area to work on, rather than trying to tackle everything at once. For example, start by completely clearing the kitchen island. Take last week's pizza boxes out to the garbage, find a home for all the orphaned items that have wound up there, and wipe off all the bread crumbs.
Tomorrow, pick another zone and focus exclusively on that area. Bonus points if you do a quick 2-minute tidy to maintain yesterday's newly-liberated space, ensuring all that hard work doesn't go to waste.
Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day! Just take it one step at a time, and you'll quickly see how much progress is being made.
Step 2: Let Go of Things That No Longer Serve You
The second step is to let go of things that no longer serve you. This can be difficult, especially if we're attached to sentimental items. But it's important to remember that we don't need material possessions to hold on to memories.
Are you holding on to items out of guilt because your mother-in-law would be heartbroken if you got rid of them? “Don’t keep gifts out of guilt. After the joy of the gift-giving moment is through, you can donate the gift without guilt. It has served its purpose," says Marie Kondo, the organizing queen.
Americans don't use 80% of the possessions we own, and we spend over 5,000 hours of our lives looking for lost items!
Take some time to sort through your belongings and donate or recycle anything that you no longer need or use, and also anything that is no longer blessing your life. Not only will this declutter your home, but it will also give you a sense of satisfaction knowing that your unwanted items are going to someone who can use them.
If you're not sure where to start, take a plastic grocery bag around the house and aim to fill it with things you can part ways with. (Hint: start with the collection of empty shampoo bottles lining the perimeter of the tub.)
Step 3: Implement Systems That Work for You
Finally, the third and most important step is to implement systems that work for your household. This might mean investing in some organizational tools, such as baskets or bins, to help keep things neat and tidy.
This also may require rethinking how daily tasks go. If you can't get your kids to neatly fold and put away their clothes, ditch the dresser and use bins or shoe cubbies instead.
A system that works is infinitely more valuable than doing things the "right" way. Set aside any guilt of not doing things in a conventional fashion, and instead focus on finding what works for you and your space —because, in the end, you're the one that has to live there!
If your house is feeling cluttered and messy, it's time to do something about it! By following these three simple steps—breaking down the task into smaller pieces, letting go of things that no longer serve you, and implementing systems that work for you—you'll be on your way to conquering the clutter in no time. And trust me, your mind (and body) will thank you for it!