Most of us are looking for a solution to clutter. To confront overstuffed cupboards and sort out jumbled piles of stuff would feel great, but it’s a challenge to find the time to do it.
The people who have had success with keeping clutter at bay understand that tidiness is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Tidying is not a quick-fix solution; it’s a practice, a daily intention, an approach to living.
What happens when you are surrounded with only what you love? Incredible benefits accrue from leading a tidy life but many of us tend to resist lifestyle changes. Keep your motivation going by focusing on the positive outcomes of your choices, such as living with a capsule wardrobe or not owning a car.
The many upsides of a tidy life include:
- Clarity of values You are able to focus on what is important to you.
- Saving time and money You get to spend time on what fulfills you and are not constantly overwhelmed by having to make tons of decisions.
- Peace of mind This comes from having less stuff to look after (did I mention less stuff to lose?!)
More space for creativity This applies mentally as well as physically – setting boundaries for time spent on social media allows you to cultivate other interests.
Leading a life of tidiness and getting rid of the stuff that’s weighing us down gives us more time, space and joy in our lives. When we focus on the quality of our lives, it becomes easier to eliminate all the things that don’t support us.
Tidying means that you are not spending your weekends on housework made more difficult by clutter. Ultimately, your surroundings should represent your sensibilities and not burden you. You are the one paying for your home, so why treat it like a storage unit for your stuff?
Leading a life of tidiness and getting rid of the stuff that’s weighing us down gives us more time, space and joy in our lives.
Why do we buy stuff?
Justifications for making unnecessary purchases are so many and varied they could fill a book on their own. Here are the most common offenders:
- To distract ourselves We shop because we are full of emotions. Boredom, sadness, feeling unfulfilled, coping with loss – we will do just about anything to avoid experiencing and sitting with these feelings. We may sometimes allow ourselves to be swayed by advertising, but in any case we think accumulating stuff will make us happy. The anticipation and thrill of shopping is short-lived, but our emotions often persist and are then compounded with guilt, or buyer’s remorse.
- To impress people We all want to look our best, but at what cost? Fast fashion isn’t built to last, adds to the clutter in our homes and ultimately has a deadly impact on the environment. Shelves of books that never get read
Don’t add up to much more than belongings collecting dust, and they quickly weigh down our boxes every time we move. To become our fantasy selves a lot of us fantasize about what we would like to be – a baker, a gardener, a scuba diver.
We buy the accouterments that support these identities but don’t actually do anything with them because those people are not really us. Instead, the equipment sits, unused, filling our cupboards, garages and hallways.
CLUTTER IS NOT GOOD FOR OUR BRAIN
Whose homes were filled with clutter, were found that families with untidy homes experienced higher cortisol levels in the evening, suggesting that messy and cluttered homes contribute to higher rates of depression and affect our ability to learn, retain memories and battle stress.
Fear, “Maybe we need it,” we say to ourselves. We might regret it if we get rid of the office supplies we never use. What if one day we need 15 bands of rubber and don’t have any? A lot of what ifs” are involved.
The internal “what if” dialog is an excuse for further clutter to remain. Think of the fun you are going to give to someone else instead of thinking negatively.
Guilt Holding clothes that don’t suit you properly will not get the money they cost back magically. Face moisturizer that irritates your skin but costs a lot. The feeling of remorse comes up every time we look at this clutter. You should not invest your hard earning money on things that have not worked out.
The more thoughtful you are the fewer you can end up carrying into your house. Shop at stores that have a nice return policy if you have to take it home to check it out.
Memorabilia This is the most daunting type of clutter to say farewell to your past, your heritage. I recommend holding on a couple of signature items-the challenge knows which pieces to hold because they all seem to have the same emotional weight. One way is to think of how many objects the same memory wants to serve. Consider whether this is the artifact or the feeling of that time that you still want to hang on to. If it makes it easier, before saying goodbye, you could take a photo of the piece, or write about it in your journal if you hold one.
Tidying up a whole house is hard work. That’s true.
Start with a small job. Start with the smallest room in your house and choose to declutter only one small part of it. Maybe it’s just a corner in your study or the countertop next to the basin in your bathroom.
You can’t build a house in one day. Start with a small corner that you can tidy up in less than 15 minutes.
Get started. Get a small job done. It’ll make you feel so much better.