Excessive clutter is often a main symptom of stress and can even cause stress. An excessively cluttered environment can affect every aspect of your life from the time it takes you to complete tasks to the state of your finances and your general well-being and overall enjoyment and quality of life.
Clutter can distract you and weigh you down both mentally and physically. In general, clutter does nothing but simply invites chaos into your life and the environment where you live it. But, tackling the clutter can seem like a task which is completely insurmountable if you’re not sure where or how you should start.
The best way to approach the de-cluttering of your home is to look at it as a series of small tasks rather than one massive one. Setting aside a huge chunk of time to be dedicated simply to the purpose of decluttering by yourself could leave you exhausted which is why it’s a far better option to take smaller steps. Set aside an hour or two each day at a time where you are feeling the most motivated and energised in order to tackle the clutter and free up space in your home and work environment.
If you have a lot of clutter, knowing where to start could be a difficult decision. In general, it’s best to start in those places where you spend the most time, such as the bedroom, living room or your work space. Make a list in order of spaces where you spend the most time and would benefit the most from the area being de-cluttered.
No matter which room you begin with, freeing up space and turning it into a clear, tidy haven which won’t add stress and anxiety to your mind and mood is the main goal.
Begin by clearing anything which is on the floors of the room – you’ll immediately begin to see a difference, especially if there are lots of items laying around on the floor. If storage is an issue, it might be a good idea to look for smart storage solutions such as under-bed storage where you can safely keep any items that you can’t throw away out of sight.
Once you’ve cleared the floor, move on to flat surfaces such as counter tops, tops of dressers, shelves etc. You should clear them of clutter as much as possible – in general, these are the areas in a living space which are susceptible to the most clutter, as many people mindlessly just put items on top of them meaning that they can soon get full up of items that in most cases, you might not really need. Go over all your flat surfaces with a fine tooth comb and be ruthless – if it’s something that you barely ever use, throw it away! After you’ve tackled the flat surfaces, the next step is to clear clutter from any furniture, cabinets and cupboards.
Sorting through items to determine what needs to be kept and what you can get rid of can be a bit of a mammoth task. This can be even worse if you’ve accumulated a lot of things over the years, so having a system in place to help to make the decision to keep or not is important.
When you’re sorting through your things, the best way to tackle it is to have three different piles. Firstly, you’ll have the ‘keep’ pile, where you’ll put everything that you need and aren’t able to throw or give away. Secondly, have a ‘donate’ pile, where you can put those items that you can give to others such as friends and family, thrift stores or even give to charity. Lastly, have a ‘throw away’ pile for items that you can’t keep or give away – these can simply go in the trash. Make sure to keep the piles of items neatly organised and uncluttered – using storage boxes or refuse sacks to keep your different piles of items separate is a great plan.
If you want to make some money from your decluttering project, add a fourth pile to your sorting system. This is the ‘sell’ pile, where you can put anything that you don’t need any more but might be able to sell on to make some money. Clothing which is in good condition, old gadgets that still work, children’s toys and even miscellaneous items such as DVDs can all make for great garage sales or you could even list them on sites such as eBay.
When you’re clearing through your home, don’t forget to tackle all your closets. Because closets are some of the best places to store things out of view, they can easily become cluttered up as you shove items in them to free up space in the bedroom. Clothes that you don’t wear any longer can also have your closets packed full – making it more difficult to find the items that you do want to wear.
This can lead to stress in the morning when you can’t find the outfit that you need whilst you’re getting ready for work! Set aside time to go through your closets and take out any items which don’t really belong there. Then go through your clothes – be ruthless, keeping only the garments which you wear often and like. If you haven’t worn something for months – with the exception of special occasion wear – it’s likely that you won’t wear it again, or miss it when it’s gone.
To get started with your work area, begin with the desk surface. Desks can get dusty and dirty quickly, so before you begin to sort through the items stored in and on your desk, the best thing to do is clear everything off it and wipe it down so that you’ve got a nice, clean area to work with.
Assemble all of the items found on and in your desk on the floor, and sort them into piles to determine what you need and what you can throw out. If you have a lot of papers on your desk, shred anything that you don’t need any longer – you’d be surprised at how much space paper can take up! Aim to go paperless as much as possible by storing electronic versions of files instead.
Labelling things on your desk can make it much easier to navigate and keep on top of. Designate drawers for different items or projects, and set up a basic alphabetic filing system. Try to keep flat surfaces as clear as possible and have an inbox system for all incoming papers so that they don’t get tossed on your desk.
Lastly, take a look at your computer and see if that needs to be decluttered as well. Get rid of any files and programs which you no longer need or use, and set up an easy-to-use filing system on your computer so that you can access files which you need quickly.
You’ll also be surprised at how much faster your computer will run once you’ve deleted any unnecessary files and programs – slow running computers tend to add to a lot of stress at work, so keeping it clear of clutter can help your work day run more smoothly.
Taking the Next Step. If you need practical assistance, guidance or motivation Clear & Clutterfree can help you save both time and money getting organised and staying organised.
About the Author. Karen Perkins is a Life Coach and Personal Hands-on Organiser. She enjoys helping busy people achieve results through effective lifestyle choices that improve their personal and professional lives.