Three years ago, I moved from a mobile home into a house that was double the size. I was looking forward to having more space than stuff because I appreciate the peace that comes with a clutter free environment. I soon discovered however the phenomenon of our modern culture that is the abundance of clutter – physical clutter, virtual clutter, mental clutter. In just 3 short years, I find myself back in the same place as before. I have more stuff than space to put it in. I don’t know about you, but a cluttered environment puts me in a bad mood and makes it hard to be productive.
After doing a bit of research into the matter, I found that it is not just me either! All of this clutter creates additional stress in your life, believe it or not. Now, most of my clutter is in the form of emails and dirty dishes because I have been really trying to declutter this year. I have gotten rid of nearly half of all my possessions since January, but my house is still too full. Between you and me, living with other people who are not trying to declutter can make it difficult.
What about you? What kind of things clutter up your life? You know, things that sort of just pile up while you are busy living life that end up causing you stress in the end. It may not be an overwhelming pile of dishes, or 500 unread emails like mine, but something similarly out-of-hand with clutter.
Here is what your clutter does to your mind. It turns out that being in a cluttered environment has some serious psychological effects according to science. Being in an environment full of clutter can cause “stress and increased cortisol levels that can become long-term; feelings of shame or inadequacy that can lead to depression; distraction from focus that kills our productivity; and negative behavioral effects for ourselves and our kids.”
It can be hard to declutter or even know where to start. Here are some tips that are pretty painless and quick to help you get rid of some unnecessary clutter in your own life! If you need a little motivation, take a look at this article about living in a developing country that might help put things in perspective.
7 ways to remove clutter and reduce stress
1. Your inbox
I should absolutely take these words to heart! Do you find yourself avoiding your inbox because of the overwhelming number of emails, like me? Well, then we both really should take the time to sit down and unclutter it. It may take an hour or several, depending on the level of clutter in your inbox, but you can follow these 4 easy steps to getting and keeping it clutter free for the future.
- Delete all of those unessential emails.
- Save important emails in your archive or folders you make.
- Unsubscribe to unnecessary emails so that you don’t find yourself with 100 unread emails by the end of the week.
- Undo calendar reminders that you don’t need to help keep it even less cluttered.
2. Your closet
Have you ever heard about geniuses and super productive people wearing the same thing everyday? Think Steve Jobs and his black turtleneck. It isn’t that they are recycling the same shirt each day, in fact, they own multiples of it. That way, it is easy to get dressed and they don’t have to waste time choosing what to wear. This may be a little extreme for most of us. I personally like to dress differently to express myself. But there are a few things you can do to reduce the clutter in your closet without compromising on your fashion versatility.
- Separate for seasons and store away what is out of season. Keep out things that can be used for multiple seasons.
- Donate what you don’t wear. If you haven’t worn it in the past year, chances are you don’t need it.
- Get rid of the pieces you like but that don’t actually fit. You know you are never going to wear them.
3. Your refrigerator
The refrigerator can be a source of clutter and disgust for some of us. This can be especially true of shared refrigerators, because we all seem to procrastinate throwing away our old food and leftovers. Do we feel so bad about wasting food that we hang onto it as it grows moldy and shrinks? Whatever the reason, here are 5 steps to getting and keeping your fridge clutter free.
- Throw away those leftovers that are so old they are unrecognizable.
- Toss all the expired condiments weighing down the door.
- On the vien, get rid of the condiments you won’t use
- Look in the produce drawer for any furry veggies that may be hiding in the back and toss those too.
- Now arrange everything so that it is easy to see and leave room for new leftovers!
4. Your office
Whether you work in an office building or from home, you probably have a lot of clutter in your work space. It is hard to keep things tidy when you are trying to get all of your actual work done. But if you take just a little time to declutter your desk, you might just find yourself able to be more productive. Here are a few simple things you can do to reduce the amount of stress increasing clutter at work.
- Shred or get rid of unnecessary papers cluttering up your workspace.
- Try to minimize knickknacks and decorations in your workspace that may be distracting.
- Move any clutter that is near your monitors that you can’t get rid of. This will help you stay focused while you are working there.
5. Your medicine cabinet
- Throw away old/expired medicines and grooming products.
- Get rid of what you don’t use like that makeup you thought would look good but didn’t.
- Try to find a place for everything in the cabinet so that it doesn’t end up re-cluttering up your sink area.
6. Your bedroom
It is common knowledge that your bedroom should be a place of ultimate calm and peace. Afterall, it is where you spend nearly ⅓ of your life – sleeping. Experts tell us that the bedroom should not be a place of activity, but a place of rest.
- Get rid of the TV and other screens. They have been shown to have a negative impact on your sleep.
- Minimize furniture and decorations so that it is a clean, relaxing space.
- Get a plant to help clean the air that you breathe.
- Try some room darkening curtains to ensure you don’t see any clutter that may be left!
7. Your kid’s room
For being so small, kids sure do accumulate a lot of stuff! I know it isn’t always easy to get rid of their old things, especially for them. When my daughter was little, I used to declutter her room while she was gone because she didn’t want to get rid of anything! It was easier to explain to her afterwards that I had donated the clothes she had outgrown to other kids who could use them than to argue with her about why it doesn’t fit. Whether you can get their blessing or you have to be stealthy, doing these things is a good way to start to reduce the clutter in their lives too!
- Get rid of the toys they have outgrown. Maybe hide them in the closet for a while first to make sure they don’t notice them missing.
- Get rid of any clothes they have outgrown or don’t wear.
- Look in the bottom of the toy box and throw away all the random garbage that accumulates down there.
- If they have just way too many toys that they don’t play with, see if they are willing to go through them with you and decide which ones to donate and which ones to keep.
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