Clutter Free Home, Clutter Free Mind
As humans, we insist on surrounding ourselves with stuff (some of us more so than others).
We cling to certain objects for meaning. They spark memories. They become fixtures in our lives - a part of our comfort zone.
But, do all of these things really bring you joy?
Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up explores that exact question.
Her methodical approach involves touching your hands to each item you own then, asking yourself if it brings you joy. If it doesn’t, you thank it for its use in your life. Then, you throw it away or give it away - whatever gets it out of your life.
The goal is to surround yourself with only the things that bring you joy.
It’s essentially the same approach that minimalism takes. An abundance of things weigh us down. What clutters our home clutters our minds - our mental health care takes a hit.
It’s called the ‘clutter effect.’
What is the Clutter Effect?
Our environment significantly impacts our well-being and mental health. The clutter effect is where your environment becomes cluttered and interferes with your ability to think and your ability to be, to relax.
You may automatically picture a hoarder. However, it isn’t just hoarders that the clutter effect applies to.
You could have a basement or garage full of items you haven’t used or touched in years. You could have a few boxes tucked in the back of the closet. Or perhaps a closet full of clothes that you haven’t worn in decades.
These things take up space in your life and your environment. Perhaps you’ve forgotten about them. Or maybe you stare at your basement or garage in dismay, yet again putting off the task of sorting through your items for another day.
Psychology Today states that having a clutter-free environment and a comfortable working space is critical to proper mental hygiene. In other words, decluttering is mentally cleansing.
These objects take up space in our minds. They call for our attention. They distract us.
Decluttering can refocus you. It can help you take back control. It can clear your mind, allowing you to function better and feel better. (If you aren’t sure where to start, read Marie Kondo’s book. It’s worth it.)
How Can You Start Decluttering?
Getting started is the hard part. And you do need to find a slot (maybe a rather large one) of time to go through your items.
However, it’s entirely worthwhile - it is part of proper mental health care. With optimal mental health, other aspects of your life will also improve.
So, what do you need to know? How can you build a clutter-free home?
1. Categorize Your Stuff
We often try to declutter by going from room to room. Yet, this can become really inefficient really fast. You may have books in different rooms, clothes in different closets, or DVDs in different boxes. It makes it hard to narrow it down.
Instead, Marie Kondo recommends decluttering by category. Start with your clothes, then your books, then your DVDs, and so on.
2. Let Go of Sentimental Objects
Sentimental objects only mean something to you. They are hard to let go of - we get it. We’ve all been there. But the truth is you likely won’t miss these things.
Instead, keep a small shoebox and limit yourself to a small collection of sentimental objects. If the box becomes too full, go through and reorganize or get rid of some it. It will limit what you keep and prevent clutter from piling up.
In other words, flip your perspective. Hold onto memories, not things.
3. Visualize What You Want Your Life to Be Like
Visualization is a powerful mental tool. If you have ever read The Secret or have watched the documentary, you have probably heard this before.
Visualization can foster action. It sets your intention on where you want to be, giving you a goal that you can feel and make happen. It goes hand-in-hand with believing in yourself.
To kickstart your decluttering process, visualize where you want to be. What do your surroundings look like? Are they peaceful? Clean? Clutter-free? Imagine it. Then, take the necessary steps to get there.
4. Discard Things Right Away
Marie Kondo recommends discarding first before you clean up.
Why? It ensures you get rid of the stuff you don’t need. There’s nothing worse than decluttering and then having the pile of clothes you are getting rid of sitting in your hallway for weeks afterward.
5. Tight for Time? Find 5 Minutes Each Day
Running a household is tough work. Between groceries, keeping your living spaces clean and functional, and running other errands, finding time even for yourself can prove a tiresome task.
If you feel stuck on time, try starting with 5 minutes a day. Take 5 minutes, get rid of 1-2 items. In 1 week, you could have 14 items decluttered from your home. Or simply fill 1 trash bag. I keep a bag in my laundry room of clothes I’m considering donating. If I don’t take the item out of the bag, it gets donated when the bag is full. Make it work for you and your lifestyle.
Remember, it’s not about adding to your to-do list - It’s about indulging in proper mental health care. It’s about taking care of yourself and your family.
6. Use the 12-Month Rule
Haven’t used or worn something in over 12 months? Get rid of it.
Switch your hangers around to face the opposite way. Reassess in 12 months - what hangers are still facing the other way? What haven’t you worn in the past year?
It’s a good habit to get into. Even Oprah recommends it.
Reduce the anxiety and stress in your life. Build a clutter-free home and consequently, a healthy clutter-free mind. Rid yourself of the stuff that is weighing you down.
You’ll not only love your space more, but you’ll love yourself more. Plus, you will have more room for other opportunities in your life.
Start exercising proper mental health care, and begin your declutter process today.