For some, living in a messy state is highly tolerable. For others, it is a frustrating, anxiety-producing nightmare of a situation. As a psychologist I am an advocate of an uncluttered mind, and having an uncluttered home can help get you there.
We all have different reactions to clutter. Some love a sparse, well-organised interior whilst others appreciate the texture that life’s detritus gives to a home.
But we aren’t discussing the various pros and cons of a minimalist versus maximalist décor here. What we are really talking about are the behaviours around clutter and how clutter affects our thinking and clarity, decision making, and overall sense of calm and wellbeing.
Research shows that people who regularly declutter or who maintain an organised home and work space are more likely to be punctual, less likely to be stressed, and generally have better working memories. Those are some pretty great reasons to keep your house (mostly) free of clutter – and your desk/work space too.
But like everything, decluttering your home is easier said than done. So how do we get to a level of organisation without feeling totally daunted by the task? Follow these tips for reducing clutter in your home environment.
8 Ways to Declutter Your Home
- Start with a small area – one drawer in your kitchen (or even better, the highly visible kitchen bench or hallway credenza where many homes “dump” their daily lives).
- Have a designated place for everything and put it there – car keys on a hook, office keys in your work bag. “Loss proof” your life by having labelled (yes, I said it) areas for your things. Organise a linen cupboard with a labeller (there it is again!) – single bed sheets, towels, beach towels, etc. It means when you go to put these things away you don’t have to think about it – because you already did think about it – thus freeing up valuable mental space and energy.
- Things that are used less frequently can be put into separate (labelled, yes, labelled) boxes or storage containers (Christmas decorations, beach paraphernalia, ski gear).
- Make decluttering a quick 15-minute weekly routine – start with the place where the “stuff” gets dumped. Go through the mail that was opened and put aside, read the school notices and make notes of important dates on a calendar. You could even have an old-fashioned mail sorter (your grandparents might have had one in the kitchen?) with a section for bills, one for correspondence, and one for miscellaneous – it will keep everything in order until you have time to address each item in it.
- Have some rules of keep or jettison – broken toys get jettisoned, clothes not worn for the past 12 months are gone, Tupperware without lids either goes or gets repurposed in a shed or for something that does not need a lid (in the bathroom it can hold cotton balls or cosmetics). DO NOT THINK YOU WILL REPURPOSE CLOTHES OR TOYS – if they aren’t used, they aren’t wanted. Give them away or if in too great a state of disrepair – out it goes!
- Make sure each member of the household takes responsibility for their own “stuff”. Kids can have a basket each for their clean laundry – it is their responsibility to put it away. You could adopt the same idea for toys and other things left lying about – have a basket to put it in and leave that in their room for them to deal with. If you are in a share house, perhaps you can collect your housemate’s stuff in one area so that it is not cluttering the common areas of the home.
- Lead by example – adopting a quick tidy-up routine will inspire others to do the same and result in the whole house being easier to live in.
- Buy a labeller – it means everything is easily identified and has a designated place, making tidying up a no-brainer.
Inspired to declutter your home? Try the first suggestion above and see what happens. Did you feel better about that particular space? Did it motivate you to work on clearing up other areas of your home? Was your week easier and less fraught because of the ease with which you found your things?
Thinking about decluttering your home, getting organised and tidying up in a big way? Your values have a huge impact on what you should get rid of and what you should keep. Read more about the art of decluttering according to your values in an article on Psych Central that I’m featured in.
Need to declutter your brain? Book an appointment with The Bondi Psychologist today.