Clutter Chaos: Reducing the Piles for a Cleaner, Healthier Life

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”Our life is organized chaos!!”

I do not have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I’ve heard this cry from clients. And while this may be said half-jokingly, the truth is “organized chaos” could be adding more stress to your daily life. And really, who wants to unknowingly add MORE stress to their life?  

 

WHAT CLUTTER DOES TO YOUR HEALTH

In my business groups, the term “messy desk, messy mind” crops up quite a bit. It means that if a person’s desk is cluttered, files all over the place, paperclips and business cards strewn about, chances are, their mind is in this same state of disarray. The same is true for our homes. This clutter has the ability to subconsciously impact our mental health. Why? Clutter:

  • Overstimulates the eye and overwhelms the mind,

  • Distracts your focus and impacts your time,

  • Induces feelings of guilt, triggering “I should do this…”

  • Creates frustration and anxiety, and

  • Can leave you feeling absolutely helpless.

So, while it may seem like “just a bit of clutter,” it’s really a visual pile reminding you of all the things that still need to be done.

HOW TO REDUCE AND MAINTAIN CLUTTER

First, define what “cluttered” means for you and your family. Just because jackets tossed over a railing bothers you, doesn’t mean it bothers anyone else. Get everyone on the same page.

 

 
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From there, identify where to start. Solutions that have helped us with our own clutter reduction include:

Creating spaces for clutter

Assign specific areas of the house for common clutter items. Shoes strewn about the entrance way without a care? Place a shoe box in the closet where you toss your shoes in and shut the door. Unopened mail and flyers all over the house? Place a basket by the front door and throw all mail in it when you walk in. Pick one day of the week, such as Sunday, to recycle flyers and organize/file the rest (if there’s a bill in that pile, we recommend paying that too J ). Too many business cards filling your pockets? Easily add them to your phone contacts with an app, such as Cam Card, and recycle the card!

 

Investing in a deep clean

Feeling paralyzed with where to start decluttering is completely normal. Many clients use our deep clean services solely to help them gain a fresh start and control over their decluttering process.

By having a cleaning crew come in to do an initial deep clean, you’re less likely to be overwhelmed with thoughts of “where do I even start?”

Using this ultimate clutter hack

One of the easiest tricks to reduce clutter is a storage bin. From toys (both children and pet’s) to shoes, winter gear, and even kitchen gadgets, bins or furniture with built-in storage are excellent pieces to invest in. Having a place to “hide” items helps you quickly stay on top of organizing without the pressure of having to make everything look perfect.

 

Plus, storage bins can be beautifully designed, adding to the décor of your home. Fashion and function are things that we always get behind!

 

Tossing daily clutter

This is a personal favourite of mine, particularly in homes with an up and a downstairs. Place two bins (laundry baskets work too) at your staircase on the main floor – one bin for upstairs, the other for down. Throughout the week, toss items to go upstairs in the one bin, items for downstairs in the other. At the end of the week, take the bins to their appropriate level and organize there.

 

Removing attachment to things

Humans are sentimental beings. This makes it hard for us to separate our emotions from physical items. When we touch items that spark memories, we’re less likely to let them go, even if the memories aren’t always positive. This clutter is often the hardest to let go. If this is your clutter hiccup, have a friend help (I hear Marie Kondo is excellent at this). Let this person hold up the item and you decide without touching it whether it stays or goes.

 

Alternatively, take a picture of the keepsake as your memory. My husband and I took a picture of the bottle that we shared on our honeymoon. Rather than keeping an empty bottle, we have a photo to spark our memory.

 

Keep the memories and the feelings…not the knickknacks won from carnival dates in junior high.  

 

Developing a clutter routine

Ultimately, reducing clutter becomes about building new habits. If you’re looking for ways to reduce clutter, start by looking at your routines. At the end of the day, do you throw your clothes on the floor or do you hang them back up on a hanger? If the former and you’re tired of seeing your clothes piling up, take 5 seconds to hang them up. It may not seem like much, but this small step will help reduce physical floor clutter. More importantly, it will reduce the clutter in your mind.

  

BENEFITS OF LESS CLUTTER

Other than the obvious – less clutter – the benefits for reducing clutter are astounding! A few of them include:

 

  • More easily engage creative flow

Reducing clutter allows you to have more open space, which encourages more creativity and problem solving.

 

  • Become more productive

No longer distracted by stuff on chairs or paper piles on your desk, you’re able to focus on the specific task at hand. Plus, you’re able to find things more quickly!

 

  • More intention with purchases

Build more intention in your experiences to create memories rather than clutter. For instance, do you really need those “one day” jeans? Why not treat yourself when “one day” comes rather than holding onto something that is unintentionally creating more stress (and may be deterring you from a goal…but that’s a whole other blog)? This way, you’ll actually use the items as you have them.

 

Dust collectors are great at adding stress. Removing them is a perfect way to reduce it.

 

The truth is clutter is nothing to be embarrassed about. We all have it; we may have different ways of organizing it. What’s important to ask yourself is this:

 

Is the clutter in your space causing you stress?!

 

If yes, try a few of the above tips. Putting the mail in one spot is a great place to begin! Start reducing your clutter and gain control back over the quality of your life.

Judith Virag