Do you feel like all you do is pick stuff up, organize and then reorganize, and search Pinterest for the newest and best ways to simplify your life?
In fact, that may be how you found this article.
We live in a world with a constant need to have more, but our brains desperately need for us to have less.
Did you know there are more storage units in the US than there are McDonalds? With a McDonalds on every corner, this is a little frightening. These storage facilities make over $38 billion in revenue every year on those of us who have an overflowing amount of stuff. Even those who do not have a storage unit, often have to park their cars outside because they use their garage as extra storage.
Getting rid of the clutter is one thing, but keeping it out of your life is a whole other story. Let’s walk through the process that will help you finally live a clutter free life.
Why you need to eliminate the clutter in your life.
Research shows that clutter has a negative impact on your productivity and causes great stress in your life. Both physical and digital clutter can take a toll on your overall well being.
Physical clutter includes everything you own that can be physically handled, including paperwork, clothes, beauty supplies, and household items. Digital clutter is everything living in your digital world, such as, emails, Facebook comments and likes, voicemails, and photos. If you look at the amount of digital clutter you are accumulating each day, it would probably astound you. I know I have a hard time keeping on top of my emails and the amount of digital photos I take can get overwhelming. All of these things can be detrimental to your brain function.
What happens to your brain when you have clutter around you?
Every little thing that surrounds you is competing for your attention. Each one of us has a different tolerance for the amount of clutter we can handle, but it is important to figure out what that level is for you.
Here’s an example, if you are sitting at your desk and there are papers, sticky notes, and a to-do list on one side and your phone that keeps dinging with notifications, family photos, and other items on the other side, your brain is forced to focus on your task while constantly trying to get rid of the distractions all around. You may not even know this is happening or think it is a problem, but your brain does. The added stress decreases your productivity and the joy you get from completing the task. At the end of the day you will feel tired and irritable without even knowing why.
The same is true for clutter around the house. As you go through your day, your brain will be pulled in many directions, constantly trying to figure out what to focus on.
The same is true for kids. A child’s brain is very susceptible to overload. Having too many toys, clothes, paper, and a messy room, can cause the same stress for kids as it does adults. Clutter is known to stifle creativity as well. Not exactly the environment you want for your growing kids, right.
Why getting rid of clutter room by room doesn’t work
Sometimes it is just a matter of finding a spot for everything, but most of the time, you will actually need to get rid of things.
Most methods for getting rid of clutter talk about conquering one room at a time, but I find this to be a waste of time. If you are really serious about getting rid of clutter once and for all, you need to take more drastic measures.
3 things that happen when you eliminate clutter room by room
- You don’t actually get rid of everything that needs to be gone, you just reorganize.
- You get burnt out before finishing every room so you never fully complete the task.
- You find yourself right back where you started a couple months later because you never made a plan.
Rather than going room by room, I suggest doing a major whole house overhaul. And if you can, get it done quickly! Take a long weekend or use some vacation time and devote yourself to the task. You will be so happy you did this once it is done and you won’t have to live for months waiting for the results you will feel.
How to get rid of clutter once and for all
Eliminating clutter in this way is a process. If you use these steps and stick with it, you will see the benefits almost immediately.
Step 1: Draw a picture or describe what your ideal space would look like. Do this with every room. Think about how you want to feel in each room once this is complete.
Step 2: Make a list of the items you really need or want. This might take you some time because it can be hard to get rid of things. Don’t think about what you will have to give up. Try not to think about what you already have at all. Look at your picture from step one and write down the items that will help you get to that ideal space. Some of these items you might not even have yet.
Step 3: Set constraints for yourself. Examples; not buying or downloading a new book until I have read the one I have. Not shopping for new clothes unless I NEED to replace an item in my wardrobe. Turning off notifications on my cell phone and only checking Facebook once per day. Think through your problem areas and set constraints that will help you maintain the lifestyle you really want.
Step 4: Identify your problem areas. Look around your house and see where the clutter piles up. For me, this is the kitchen counter. Everything from kids toys, to mail, to school work ends up taking over my counter. You might have multiple areas in your house (most likely you do). Make note of each one.
Step 5: Create a space for EVERYTHING. Start with your problem areas and decide what you need a place for and what you can just give up. This might mean a designated place for mail, only 10 hangers in your closet, a shoe rack by the front door. Take some time to think through the amount of space you want to dedicate for something and when you go to get rid of items, only keep what fits.
Step 6: Go through items one by one, rather than room by room. Start with something easy. If it is going to be hard for you to simplify your wardrobe, don’t start there. Start with something as simple as pens. I can bet you have pens in multiple areas in your house, and probably way too many of them. Go around the house and collect every writing utensil you can find, from the car, the junk drawer, your desk, your kitchen, etc. Find them ALL. Designate a spot for them (one spot if possible, but if you need pens in more than one room in the house, then decide what works best for you.) only keep the amount of pens and pi pencil that you need and that will fit in your designated spot. Try not to completely fill this spot. It will feel and look much better if it isn’t crammed full. I use a small ball jar that we keep in the kitchen. If I need a pen in my office, I just walk to the kitchen to get one and return it when I’m done. Throw away, donate, or do whatever you need to do with the remaining pens, but DO NOT look at them again. Trust your first instinct and allow yourself to let go of the rest.
Continue this process with everything in your home, starting small and moving up as you go.
Here’s a list of things you will probably need to look through:
- Kitchen appliances/gadgets/utensils.
- Digital files
- Beauty supplies
- Bathroom items
- Pantry items
I am sure you will think of many more. Think about your ideal space as you go through this process and work towards to getting to that place.
Only keep what you LOVE and makes you a happier person.
If something doesn’t fit, let it go. If you chose to have 10 hangers in your closet, then choose your wardrobe accordingly. If you have a spot for 5 pairs of shoes, then only keep 5 pairs of shoes. This will be difficult at times, but just focus on that end goal.
Step 7: Do a daily walk through. By now you have created a space for everything that matters to you. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to ensure everything is back in its place. This will become so routine you won’t even think about it anymore. Plus, having less stuff means you won’t have much to put away!
Step 8: Enjoy the results of your hard work! Look around and at your newly designed space and LOVE your home again!
What you will gain from a clutter free life
It is hard to explain the peace you will feel from having a clutter free space. Remember, everyone’s clutter threshold is different, but when you find your perfect level, you will love being in your home, feel less stressed, get more done, and enjoy the time you have.
I really encourage you to make this a priority in your life.
- Decide what you really want and need in your house.
- Follow the steps.
- Enjoy the beauty and simplicity of your home and all the extra time you have now that you are clutter free!
You can do this!