Clutter is a problem most of us can relate to. It’s easy to let piles of clothes, magazines or other odds-and-ends stay put, and to deal with the mess another day.Clutter is a problem most of us can relate to. It’s easy to let piles of clothes, magazines or other odds-and-ends stay put, and to deal with the mess another day.
But beyond appearances, there are many reasons you should tackle your junk problem today. And a big one is your own mental and physical well-being.
Psychology Today reports that clutter in your home can cause mental stress in a few ways:
- Keeps you from finding what you’re looking for
- Makes you feel embarrassed or guilty
- Overwhelms your brain and makes it hard to focus
- Kills your productivity, which can make you more stressed out
Clutter in your home affects more than just your mental health. It can affect you and your family’s physical health, too.
Studies show that a messy kitchen means you’re more likely to eat out, which is almost always less healthy than making your own meals. And a treadmill covered in clothes or other junk is a treadmill you’re not working out on.
Not only that, but people with messy homes or more likely to suffer falls due to tripping over something they didn’t see, or slipping on a piece of clothing.
We’ve put together a list of eight ways you can overcome the challenge of clutter in your house for a happier, healthier home.
1. Set a Time Limit
Sometimes the dread of how much time it could take to try and declutter your house (or even a single room) can be enough to push the task off altogether.
But deciding in advance how long you want to spend on a certain task can help you manage the task without getting overwhelmed.
Say you want to organize all the books on your bookshelf. Focus only on this single task for a half an hour. Even if you don’t finish the task in the timeframe, you’ll have made progress.
Just like beginning a new fitness regiment or using a planner, starting can be the hardest part when it comes to decluttering. But setting aside an allotted amount of time for a certain task will make it feel more manageable.
2. Break Up Tasks into Smaller Achievable To-Dos
You don’t have to declutter your entire home in one day. Break your efforts into room-by-room tasks, and then into smaller more detailed tasks to make your goals more achievable.
For example, if you need to declutter your garage, start off by spending one hour organizing your toolbox. Next weekend, you can spend an hour organizing your gardening tools.
Don’t forget to assign an allotted amount of time to each task to make it even more attainable.
3. Recruit the Family
When it comes to clutter, chances are you’re not the only one creating it in your house. Recruit the whole family to help clear out clutter and keep your home mess-free. After all, two (or four or five) people can get a job done twice as fast.
Depending on your childrens’ ages, trust them with tasks they can handle. If your family room could use some TLC, ask your kids to spend 30 minutes separating everything into piles: toys, remotes & game controllers, books, miscellaneous, etc.
When they’re finished, get their input about where they think everything should go. This will save you some time and energy, and teach your kids some important clutter-free habits!
4. Keep Clutter Out
To truly keep a clutter-free home, you can’t just organize. Getting rid of the things you don’t need is an important step in removing unnecessary items from every room in your house.
Go through each room in your house and make two piles: one of stuff to keep, and one of stuff to get rid of.
The easiest way to make this decision is to ask yourself the following questions for every individual item you pick up:
- What does this thing do that nothing else I own does?
- Do I own something else that can do the same job better?
- Does it have sentimental value?
If you’re still struggling to decide what items you should keep or get rid of, you may need the four-box method.
Using this method, you can organize your items into 4 categories (or bags or actual boxes):
Box 1: Keep
For anything that remains useful and/or has sentimental value, find a place for it using any of the organizational methods above.
Box 2: Sell/Donate
You may not like the idea of throwing something away just because you don’t need it anymore. An old book is still a good book, or an instrument might have some monetary value.
Donate these items so they can go to good use again, or sell these items to try and get some cash in return.
There are a lot of great resources on the internet for selling and donating a variety of items:
Box 3: Throw Away
If an item has no use or sentimental value, and won’t be of use to anyone else, toss it. If you have a lot of large items that you need removed, call a professional trash removal service to get this done quickly and easily.
Box 4: Store
The store box can be used for 2 great reasons: 1. Store things that you don’t need on a daily basis, like seasonal decorations or a family photo album and 2. Store things that you aren’t sure if you want to get rid of or not.
If you can’t quite get used to the idea of letting go of the old sweater you used to wear in high school, put it in the store box.
6 months down the road, you may realize you haven’t thought of that sweater once, and you don’t need it after all. Then you can move the item out of limbo and get it out of your house for good.
5. Make A Positive Impact
Still having trouble letting go of things you know you don’t need anymore, but can’t seem to let it go?
Our last tip to help you get over this barrier is to turn getting rid of your clutter into a positive act. Give your beloved items a new home where they’ll be put to good use and get out of your house.
Other items can be donated to thrift stores, which typically use their proceeds to support humanitarian causes. Churches often have clothes deposit boxes for the needy as well.
It’s a lot easier to let go of something that you don’t use if you know it will help someone else.
6. Transform Your Sentimental Stuff
The things in your home that you cherish the most are probably your memories: photos, scrapbooks, your children’s childhood art, etc.
You can protect against losing these and de-clutter your home at the same time.
Digitize your photos and scrapbooks by scanning them into a computer program, and be sure to back up onto an extra hard drive. It’s a good idea to keep this hard drive in a fire safe where it will be protected in an emergency.
Your music and movie collection can undergo the same treatment. Instead of keeping stacks of dusty CDs and DVDs in your den, you can rip them onto a hard drive.
There are a number of software options out there than can help you store your digital assets, such as:
After you’ve digitized these items, you can store it neatly in organized totes that can go into the garage or basement. Or you can get rid of or donate any physical backups that you don’t need anymore.
Whenever you want to enjoy family photos or a favorite album, you’ll easily be able to pull it up on your computer.
With a smart strategy and small, manageable steps, you can take the work out of de-cluttering your home for good. And once you’ve gotten the junk out of your home, you can worry about keeping it clean and sanitary for you and your family’s health and comfort.