By Margarita Cossuto
Clutter can be both physically and mentally draining. Simply seeing piles of accumulated items or things that you need to organize, signals to your brain that there is something you need to attend to, which can make it difficult to relax. Clutter takes up your energy and can negatively impact many areas of your life. Each day, time is lost searching for missing keys, phones, and papers that need to be signed or mailed out. Not only can clutter cause you to use precious time looking for items, but it can also cause emotional stress. Therefore, it is crucial to think about your external space; how managing the clutter in your physical space can bring about many positive benefits.
Being organized can give you peace of mind. Clearing physical clutter can help clear mental clutter, which is anything that keeps you from thinking clearly and makes you distracted.
Having clutter in the home and accumulated items around the house can be overwhelming. Assess the things in your home that you no longer need or that don’t belong in the place they are. Think of clutter as anything that you do not use, do not like, or do not have a place for in your home. By taking the time to organize your space and clear clutter, you are taking ownership of your space. Also, you’ll be taking time to focus on the items you want in your home and as a result, caring for your home and yourself. By recognizing how clutter affects you, you are taking steps towards self-care. Below are some strategies you can practice for reducing the clutter in your home and in turn, practice self-care.
Set aside time: Think about how you work best – some people prefer to work for no more than 30 minutes, whereas others may find that once they start, they just keep going. Do what is best for you. Either way, definitely plan something you enjoy after each organizing session to reward yourself for your hard efforts. Keep in mind that decluttering is hard work, and can be emotional, especially when sorting through sentimental items and keepsakes.
Sort by room and category: Since there are many rooms in your home, it can be overwhelming to decide which place to begin with when starting. Ideally, you will want to sort through every item in each room so that you know exactly what you have, what you want to keep, and what you want to discard. Start by sorting things into categories (i.e., like with like, versus categorizing by color, size, or favorite items). It will be a lot easier to sort through your items when you can see how much you have of a similar type. When you’re in each room, tackle each space by starting with things on the floor, then surfaces like dressers, nightstands and bookshelves, then gradually work into the inside of your closets, drawers and cabinets. Once you see your cleared floor and surfaces, you will be energized by the immediate effects of your hard time and effort.
Involve the family: Encourage each member of the family to organize their own space. Some quick things family can do to jumpstart the process, is to remove all the items that create visual clutter that does not belong in the room. For example, return any items that are borrowed, remove anything that needs repair or that needs to be tailored, recycle expired coupons and junk mail, and toss things that are stained, broken, or cannot be used.
Prepare yourself: Organizing and decluttering can be energizing, but it can also be emotionally draining and psychically exhausting. As you embark on the process of decluttering, think about what makes you feel good. If you work well with music, play some of your favorite energizing tunes to help motivate you to move around your rooms, or place a vase of fresh flowers near you to inspire the natural beauty in your space, or even try lighting some fragrant candles with lavender or vanilla for uplifting, energizing, and calming mood benefits.
Organizing your physical space through decluttering, discarding old items that are no longer needed, and giving things away to people so that they can have a new life and be enjoyed by others can have tremendous emotional and psychological effects. By making decisions on your items, you are in control. As you’re decluttering, you might get emotional, you might get angry, you might feel like stopping because it is simply too difficult to make decisions. Know that all your feelings are entirely normal. Remind yourself that you are taking a very active, and albeit emotional and challenging step, into evaluating the clutter items in your home. Have fun with this process and appreciate the enormous impact that organizing your physical space can have on you and your surroundings!