Is clearing clutter on your to-do list this year? Having trouble getting started? Sometimes finding the proper motivation is what finally gets us to take action on a goal. Being tidy and well-organised on a daily basis helps us to keep a peace of mind while saving time and effort. Let’s make a fresh start.
In our fast-paced consumer society, we are under constant pressure to buy and collect, so we accumulate more and more things. But we don’t learn to let go. A messy room can make it harder to find things when they are needed, and in professional settings, it might result in missed deadlines or losing important documents. We also struggle with never-ending to-do lists, dates to remember, and events to attend, so our time becomes as cluttered as the space in which we live and work. All this leads to a state of overwhelm which is harmful to physical and emotional well-being.
Researchers at UCLA’s Centre on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) have identified a direct link between the stress hormone cortisol and clutter. A further paper from the American Association for Nurse Anaesthetists, suggests that people with messy homes are 77% more likely to have weight issues. It is believed that weight gain is due to the rise in stress levels that comes along with a cluttered existence. Stress alters the way fat is deposited because of the specific hormones and other chemicals your body produces when you’re stressed.
So, how to get out of this habit, getting rid of stuff that’s getting in our way, both materially and metaphorically? Organization is big business these days. From books to seminars to organizational systems, everyone seems to want to find some way to perfectly arrange every aspect of their lives.
According to the English Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make out. Creating printable decluttering calendars for some months might help: simply write which areas or rooms you plan to declutter and when. Then, work your decluttering around busy times, vacations and holidays. If you plan to have a yard sale, you may declutter rooms with the highest chance for saleable items first (kids closets, playroom, garage) and save the rooms that most likely produce trash for last.
The Japanese way of decluttering
The good reasons to give clutter the boot, once and for all, are especially the chance to enjoy more free time, spend less money, feel calmer and simplify our life. The popular Japanese cleaning consultant, Mary Kondo, creator of the KonMari Method, author of the bestseller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever” (Ten Speed) and now even a star on Netflix with her own tv program “Tidying Up“, suggests a very easy method to resolve your problem: if you don’t love it, don’t keep it! She takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).
The British Decluttering Style
On the other hand, the English writer Deborah Robertson, author of the new book “Declutter” (Kyle Books), who transformed her own life by decluttering, now hopes to help and encourage others to do the same. Bursting with practical and relatable advice, her book injects enthusiasm, energy and some much-needed humour into the essential task of de-cluttering. With a refreshingly honest approach, Debora tackles the best ways to deal with domestic dilemmas, cluttered kitchens and crowded cupboards. She includes handy tips and tricks for the average time-poor person. Tasks are broken down into achievable goals and ‘quick fixes’, allowing even the busiest of people to create, maintain and achieve a tidy home.
And it’s not just the home she works on.
Debora also helps you to get rid of anxiety and kick-start productivity with the “Evening 15” rule: an easy evening routine to make mornings easier by completing just a few tasks such as folding some laundry; fixing any packed lunches; putting out clothes for the next day or wipe down the kitchen surfaces and sink. Last but not least, she suggests how to transform our lives following her “10 de-cluttering commandments“. Our favourite?
Good enough is good enough. Banish the paralysing tyranny of perfectionism. Give yourself permission to do things imperfectly. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting impossibly high standards.
Forget the holier-than-thou approach promising a whole new you if you alphabetise your sock drawer – this is decluttering for real people, with real lives.