There is a copious amount of research available with a quick Google search that confirms that clutter affects the brain in a negative way. It stops our ability to make decisions and can lead to depression and anxiety. Good times, eh? Not so much.
The good news is that with another easy search in Google, a plethora of articles and tips are out there that will guide ‘The Messy’ or ‘The Hoarder’ to a less chaotic life. Here, we have highlighted just a few to spark your initiative.
By implementing the following five strategies, you can cut down on the effects of too much stuff and de-stress your life.
Many people look at the disorder and think, I don’t know where to begin! I can’t do it alone! I can’t keep up, so why bother? At a glance, these thoughts are understandable. It takes effort and a strong desire to make a change. This where the first strategy starts: change your thinking.
True, this is not easy. It takes intention and effort. You’ll wonder why you kept ‘it’ and you’ll wonder why you want to keep ‘it’. Answering these questions can help you down the road when you are in maintenance mode. With clear definition as to why you are holding on to an object or document, you’ll be clearer about whether or not you need it long term.
When you’ve conquered your hesitation about getting started, it will be time to think about how to attack the project. Consider the following:
One Year Rule
Most people have boxes, drawers, cupboards, or plastic bins full of things they think we will need ‘one day’. What if that ‘one day’ never comes? What if there is someone in your community that actually needs it right now?
One way to ease this decision-making process is to ask yourself, have I used this in the last year? If you have not used it, appreciated it, or wished that you had it, be like Elsa and let it go! Perhaps, in doing so, you can meet someone else’s need, and likely, you won’t even miss it.
Does It Bring You Joy?
What is the main reason for instigating a household purge in the first place? It’s likely because you have come to a pain point and realize that most of your things are not making you happy.
Strategy #2: Ask yourself, does this bring me joy? What items make you happy to look at or use? Does that artwork make you feel purely happy when you view it? Keep it. Does that single cup coffee maker make your heart skip a beat? Keep it. Does that sweater give you warm fuzzies? Keep it.
If it doesn’t stir a strong positive emotion, say goodbye to it.
Major or Minor
During your suggested Google searches, did you get conflicting information about how much attention to give the clean out process? Here’s a rule of thumb you can follow:
Start with a marathon style purge, then break it down into shorter, but regular periods of time to drill down into the details.
Consider setting aside a weekend – call it a working stay-cation – and get the family involved. Make it a game and you will be less likely to be met with resistance from them.
Once you have gone through the big-ticket items, you’ll begin to see a pattern of things that need a deeper cleansing. At that point, you can begin setting aside an hour or two once or twice a week to finish the detailed organization. Plus, once you have the big stuff, literally, out of the way, you’ll have room to sort and stack the smaller stuff. You have room to breathe in between cleaning efforts.
The next step is to go through each room and decide major categories of things that need to be addressed, such as: furniture, clothing, sporting equipment, tools, kitchen gadgets, etc. You get the idea. Choose medium sized categories that you can begin to sort through using the Four-Letter Plan below.
The Four-Letter Plan
No, not those four letters! The four letters are D, K, S, T: Donate, Keep, Sell, Trash.
Each time you begin to sort, set up four ‘piles’ to put your things into.
If it’s still in good condition, could be useful to someone else, but not of much monetary value, donate it. (depending on other charitable contributions you make, you may be able to deduct it from your yearly taxes – bonus!)
If it’s worn, broken, damaged, or completely outdated, trash it. (Just be sure your garbage collection sites will accept it. If it’s hazardous waste, find an appropriate disposal site.)
If the item is potentially worth a decent amount of money to resell, consider a yard sale, local flea market, or selling it online (Craigslist, Ebay, LetGo, etc.).
Pro Tip: People may spend more for your items, if you tell them that a portion of the money is going to a charity. You can keep a percentage, then make a donation. It benefits everyone!
With a positive attitude, intention, determination, and a solid plan, you can declutter and de-stress your home and life, starting today.