Feeling overwhelmed by the mountains of clutter around you? Do you suffer from CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome)? Stressed about the messy desk in your office? Paralyzed by the sheer thought of dealing with all the stuff piled up in your attic? If you’ve answered “Yes” to one of these questions, don’t despair. There are solutions to this problem. Clutter is natural, but leaving it around you is not. So, whatever the source, if all that flotsam and jetsam has washed up in your home, it’s time to sweep it clean. Here are 5 Ways to get rid of clutter that are easy and swift.
Why Is Clutter Bad For You?
What is clutter, really? Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, defines it as “An over-abundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces.” When you look at the amount of jumble you’ve accumulated, you may feel amazed at how much stuff you bought. You probably paid for some of it; some may be inherited or gifted.
A good test is to check if you have to move a pile of stuff to accomplish any task. Procrastinating before undertaking the simplest of chores or jobs is another sign because you literally don’t know where to start. This happens across all age groups, but feelings of despair and frustration are present more in older adults.
Another problem with clutter is that you immediately go out and buy the item when you can’t find something you urgently need amid a pile of clutter. This means you spend money on things you already have but can’t find when you need them.
- Clutter evokes negative feelings, especially in women
- It prevents you from functioning efficiently
- You waste time and money if you live and work in cluttered spaces
- The definition of clutter differs from person to person
- There is a certain image of how a room should look, and clutter doesn’t align with this concept
- Homes are places to relax in, and clutter represents unfinished tasks
- Clutter could also collect because of sentimental attachment to certain items
- It is a result of confusing wants and needs
- The human brain prefers order and organization
- Messy spaces make us feel depressed, anxious, and stressed
- Cluttered spaces trigger a physical “fight or flight” response that puts a strain on the body
- Sleep disturbances are common with people who sleep in over-crowded, cluttered bedrooms
- It can also lead to poor eating choices
5 Ways To Get Rid Of Clutter
So, where do you start? First, it’s important to approach the task systematically. Don’t just leap into the job, spend hours poring over old photo albums, and wonder whether to throw away remnants of the 36-piece dinner-set you got as a wedding present.
Basically, you can discard, donate, sell or recycle stuff. There are several great ideas to help you to free yourself from the clutches of the Junk Monster.
Create a mental checklist when you pick up an item.
- When did I use this last?
- Is it working?
- Do I have many more items like this?
- Is it emotionally important to keep it?
- Will someone else be able to use it?
This helps you to decide whether to discard or keep an item – whether it’s clothes, books, appliances, toys, or papers.
- Analyze: Take a look at the clutter’s location, size, and nature. In some homes, every room is filled with junk; in others, there are designated areas such as lofts, basements, attics, or closets where the Monster lurks. Once you’ve mapped the three factors, decide when you will start. Pick a day and time when you know you won’t be interrupted.
- Start Small: Never imagine you could finish the job all at once. Take smaller baby steps. Figure out the easier spots first. For instance, choose the hallway, dining table, bookshelf, or dressing table. This helps to keep you motivated and gives you a faster sense of satisfaction at the end. Make sure you select work that can be completed in a particular period and has clear boundaries. For messy paperwork, invest in a bunch of simple folders and label them so that you can quickly file utility bills, prescriptions, and more. Keep the folders in an easy-to-access place and teach the rest of the family how to use this system.
- The 20/20 Rule: Millburn and Nicodemus, podcast stars and best-selling authors, explain the concept of minimalism. This rule is a great way to figure out what you really need. Throw away an item if it costs less than $20 and takes less than 20 minutes to replace. This rule may not be universally applicable across all the junk you have. But it works for smaller, everyday items that take up space. Clothes, toys, make-up, small appliances, crockery, books, and stationery fall well into this category. We purchase or collect many items because we may need them “at some time.” This is one of the biggest reasons why people accumulate possessions. That “sometime” may never come into your life, and even if it does, you can easily purchase that item without much ado.
- Designate Locations: While you map cluttered locations, it’s a good idea to mentally decide the best spot for different things that you mean to keep. Imagine how exactly you want the room to look at the end of the session. Mentally move things to their right places and remove things that don’t belong in this space. Begin de-cluttering only when you have completed this visualization exercise. Invest in large hampers or caddies and place them in each room. For example, you can quickly declutter your living room by putting toys and books into a hamper. If your bedroom has stuff that doesn’t belong there, such as phones, electronic devices, used coffee mugs, or laundry, put them into a caddy that you can sort out later.
- Getting Distracted: This is the biggest obstacle to de-cluttering. Switch off your phone; unless it’s an emergency, don’t leave the house. Designate a “De-Cluttering Day” and tell your friends and family that you’re unavailable for coffee mornings or to chat on that day. Work on your motivation. The house has become cluttered because of a particular mindset that has crept in over a long time. It takes hard work to psych yourself into clearing up. If you’re working in one area of the house, or a particular room, stay there till the job is done. Avoid running between different rooms. You may find things in your dining or living room that belong elsewhere. Stack them all together and deal with them later.
When all else fails, perhaps you need a professional to help you. They can do a thorough job, but you’ll have to maintain the space yourself after they’ve gone.