Illustrated Guide: Benefits of Decluttering and How to Declutter
The Benefits of Decluttering Your Home
Is your cluttered and messy house driving you nuts? Do you just wish you had a neat, clean house to enjoy living in? Are you embarrassed to invite friends or family over to visit because of the way your house looks?
Are you overwhelmed by the mere thought of decluttering your living spaces?
Well, just keep reading and we will provide you with clear and easy steps to eliminate the stress of clutter from your life once and for all. We promise you it is worth the investment of ten minutes to read through our “Ultimate Guide to Decluttering.”
All you want is a nice clean house, office, and car right? You just need a free day to clean out the clutter that’s been building up in your home, at your desk, and in your car and you will be all set. Right?
The benefits of decluttering your home include:
|The Benefits of Decluttering|
|Having a Happier Life|
|Having a Cleaner House|
|Having More Space to Live In|
Download The Benefits of Decluttering Your Life Checklist Below (Print it out)
A simple solution to start with! Go to any home improvement store and there are literally entire aisles dedicated to new ways to organize and store your belongings. Ahhh! Decluttering is easy! Sure, sure.
There are also entire television shows and podcasts centered around the idea that if you can get rid of the clutter, you will have a happier and more fulfilling life.
So why is a clean uncluttered home and/or office not happening for you? Why is clutter possibly ruining your life or at least making it something you are concerned about?
What exactly is clutter? Why should You Declutter?
Let’s start your journey to find answers and a solution right here with something easy. What is the definition of clutter?
The Free Dictionary defines “clutter” in a few ways;
- Confused or disordered state or collection; a jumble
- Something that is disorderly or dirty, as an accumulation or heap
- Troubling, or embarrassing condition or situation
Admittedly, we all have clutter, even if we try to hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist. It is there. The question is what to do about clutter and how.
“Clutter Steals Energy and Joy” Monika Kristofferson
Think of these all-too-common sights, and see if any sound familiar. Your desk is littered with papers, overdue reports, and an overturned paper clip container you haven’t bothered to pick up.
Your kitchen counter has a stack of bills, the sink is full of dirty dishes, and the refrigerator has a reminder for a doctor’s appointment that was three months ago.
Children’s toys are all over the floor, and the lawn care equipment can never seem to find its way back on the right shelf.
Wait there’s more! Think about these other unlikely culprits of clutter. That stack of unopened crafting materials you promised to pull out one day. Four of the same over-the-counter medications, under the sink, because you forgot you already had some.
Dry-clean-only clothing pressed to the darkest corner of your closet because the perfect occasion never came. A pile of receipts you have yet to enter into your checkbook, or cross-reference with your online account.
A more practical definition of “clutter” would be the stuff you allow to accumulate because you do not keep yourself aware of it. There may be good or bad reasons for it, but it happens to the best of us.
You get lazy, you get distracted, or you ignore it and hope it disappears on its own. Unfortunately, for most people, this is no way to live and creates negative feelings and even stress.
Reasons for Clutter
You don’t have to be a hoarder to fall victim to clutter. Here are some of the many reasons you may allow clutter to build up around you.
Too much stuff.
Chances are, if you took an honest look at your home or office, you would say that you just have more stuff than you really need. You could be given gifts on special occasions and purchase things that you “think you need.”
You might buy items for one use then set it aside for extended periods or “treat” yourself to buying something more often than you would care to admit. The end result is that your space or home becomes packed full of things that you may not touch for years at a time.
Not sure how long to keep things.
Many of you are hesitant to throw things out or give them up because you think you might still have use for them. This can be true of spares and duplicates of a given item, or something that you think you can repair or restore.
If a piece of clothing appears outdated, you may still hold onto it just in case it comes back in style. Or you may save something because you “might use it again someday.” However you justify it, the “just in case” factor is strong when it comes to clutter. Can you relate to this sentiment? Be honest! 🙂
Hard to be aware of clutter building up.
Sometimes, clutter can be so slow to build up you don’t even notice it. One piece of unopened junk mail on the counter becomes three, then ten, then thirty. And we won’t even mention the important bill that you missed because it was hidden in the stack of junk mail.
You might find a new pillow or blanket and fall in love, and believe it will go perfectly with what you already have at home. This can happen several times over! You can totally forget what you currently have in your closets when you go shopping.
The easiest culprit is simple complacency and (if we’re brutally candid) a bit of laziness. After all, what’s one more dish added to the growing pile in the sink?
Lack of organizational systems.
Occasionally, clutter stems from simply lacking a system for sorting and organization. You do not take the time to put everything in its proper place or perhaps never even saw a need to until the task seems insurmountable.
This is another case where laziness can crop up. Often you can be so preoccupied with a hundred other things that keep you busy, you allow yourself to throw things in a pile or a bin with good intentions to deal with it later. Except “later” never comes!
One legitimate reason for clutter that is usually an excuse in most cases, is a transitional period of one kind or another. An example would be preparing for a move, whether upsizing or downsizing.
Anyone would understand piles of boxes or temporarily misplaced items in the shuffle of relocating or loading and unloading a truck. You could also be getting ready for a new addition to the household (children or parents), or are in the middle of a renovation project that requires emptying out a room or closet for the work.
This is understandable and perfectly fine for a season, but sometimes you don’t revert “back to normal” quickly enough and it creates problems. How many short-term “cluttering” episodes can you think of that happened with you and they still exist years later?
Sentimental about everything, emotionally attached.
One of the most common excuses people give for our clutter is that we are attached to everything. Have you ever gone through your storage units or closets, associating happy memories, or deep emotional attachments with each and every item you find? Thinking, if you were to part with it, it would be like letting go of a piece of yourself, and that often seems like too much to ask. Is this you?
Fear of change.
Another closely associated reason for your possible clutter is that you may be fearful of change. You may have always lived with things a certain way, and anything new or novel throws off your rhythm.
Sometimes you may be hesitant even to move things to a more functional place because you fear you may forget where you put something, or you don’t want to get rid of or replace something because you fear that you will miss the “old and familiar” once you do.
Ultimately, whatever label you put on your uneasiness around doing something about your clutter, you could feel overwhelmed by the prospect of doing anything at all. You probably have lived with things in their current state for so long that, even though you know something is wrong, it is too familiar and “normal” to do anything about now. Sometimes, there is just so much clutter everywhere you look that it feels impossible to tackle everything at once, so you put it off and delay it without a second thought.
Benefits of Removing Clutter
At best, clutter can be a temporary nuisance. At worst, clutter can become a major problem for our mental and emotional health, and – if left unchecked for too long – our physical safety and well-being.
Chances are, you’ve seen a program or read an article about someone who was living in a virtual cluster of “stuff,” surrounded by mountains of possessions in unsanitary conditions.
You may not feel quite this far gone, but even small steps to alleviate your clutter can offer great returns on the investment of your time and energy.
Here are just a few reasons to do something about your clutter today.
Sense of peace and lower stress.
One of the easiest and quickest rewards of cleaning out the clutter is the relief of background stress. Simple things such as you can breathe a little easier knowing that all the expired foods have been purged from the produce drawer and that you don’t have to step over a minefield of toys to get across the living room.
Once you have cleaned the house and put everything in its proper place, it’s as if your mind and body give an involuntary exhale of relief. You can sense a moment of peace and calm when you aren’t faced with the prospect of something else left undone.
Clarity of mind, less distraction.
Even after the initial peace fades, your mind is still clearer and stronger as long as you keep clutter at bay. Your thoughts aren’t distracted by an unfinished chore or a nagging reminder in the back of your mind.
You can remind ourselves that you have already taken care of everything, and give yourself permission to mentally unwind a bit. Also, it just feels good to check things off a to-do list and to feel a sense of accomplishment from putting everything in order.
One basic benefit of removing clutter from our homes is basic cleanliness and sanitation. It’s common sense. If a surface like a desk or a countertop is covered up, it’s not getting dusted or wiped down. When you clean off your counters and take everything out of the sink, you can give everything a thorough cleaning.
This prevents germs and bacteria from setting up shop, and you don’t have stains or smells marring what should be a sanitary space. Even an oft-forgotten space like your car could use a good cleaning every so often. Removing discarded cups and vacuuming up spilled snacks makes you more comfortable when you leave for work or school in the mornings.
Save money. Not buying things you already have but don’t know it!
Think about the last time this happened to you. You go to the grocery store, pass an item on the shelf, and you can’t remember whether or not you already have that item at home. When this happens, you might have that thought because your pantry or freezer is a cluttered mess of bottles and boxes, or containers with no labels.
Once you organize your foods, medications, supplies, or anything else, you can once and for all see what you have and what you might need to get. Otherwise, you run the risk of buying things several times over and forget you already have it.
Knowing what you have.
Even if you don’t buy things in duplicate or triplicate, it is still worthwhile to organize things just so you can see what you do have. If you feel like your towels or linens might need replacing but you’re not sure what you have in reserve, taking the time to sort what you do have can help you make that decision more easily.
That pile of tools thrown together on the workbench might have what you need for your next project, or you might need another trip to the hardware store. You won’t know the answers to these important questions until you sift through the clutter! Knowing what you have or don’t have saves you time and money.
Ability to donate.
There are tangible, well-researched positive psychological benefits to donating things to those in need. Whether you support a community shelter or thrift shop, or even give something to a friend, allowing others to benefit from your excess does far more good than letting it gather dust in a forgotten corner of your home.
You should, of course, make sure that the items you are donating are in decent condition. Rather than taking your whole closet to the dumpster, instead, spend some time carefully thinking about what you could give away and help someone less fortunate than you. This will actually make you feel good!
This could be a simple concern like tripping over a child’s toys because they weren’t put away properly at the end of the day, or it could be a genuine health and safety concern like dangerous tools or appliances.
If you are not careful, your clutter could expose real safety hazards that could jeopardize your health or well-being. It could be dangerous to let things get too out of hand. Tripping over a box or stack of something could cause injury.
Benefits of Decluttering Thoughts
Yes, we all have clutter. No denying it! The question is how much clutter do you really have and is it causing a negative impact on your life? An example, there is probably a pile of laundry sitting on the floor in your bedroom right now that needs to be sorted and put away. We all have busy lives, but taking a little time to figure this out is important.
There are many benefits to removing clutter even if you think it is not a problem for you. It is not as formidable a task as you make it out to be. Some simple tricks, a few useful tools, and a little bit of hard work will make all the difference. The positive mental aspects of decluttering are substantial.
Keep reading as we provide you with those tips and tricks to declutter your life.
How to Declutter Your Home
We already talked about the negative aspects of clutter. Now let’s get busy with simple solutions anyone can do. First, understand you are not “stuck” living in a cluttered world. You can always stand up and do something about your clutter.
Sometimes you may feel like it’s not worth the effort. After all, once you clean off the table it’s just going to get filled up again right? So what’s the point? If you can work past some of this initial doubt or defeatism, you can power through and give yourself better peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment.
You CAN do it! Decluttering your life is possible!
Here are some definitive steps to follow as you start to go through your clutter. Follow along. Print this list out and you will have some real pointers and suggestions that work to defeat clutter in your life.
Starting Points for Decluttering
If your clutter seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, here are a few first thoughts to make the task seem more manageable.
Start small. There’s a common phrase: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” If it feels like too much work to attack clutter in your entire house, start with just one room.
You may feel like everything is equally deserving of your attention, but start small and work from there.
You will find that suddenly, a list of 50 projects becomes a list of only five or ten. You can get through that smaller list in much less time, and even if you stop there for the day you can still go to sleep knowing you did something productive.
The key to making progress with your decluttering efforts is to make sure you do a little bit each day.
Get family or friends involved.
Don’t be afraid to call in the cavalry. Decluttering projects are perfect for a “honey-do list,” and your kids can even help with basic chores. If you know that much of your clutter is due to holding things for friends or coworkers, invite them over to pick up their things or to help with a larger project.
You can even enlist your parents or neighbors to babysit your children while you take a day to take care of business. Remember, no one is an island, and you shouldn’t feel guilty asking for a little help!
Start a checklist.
Checklists are an absolute must for getting rid of your clutter. The very act of making a checklist starts the process of introducing order to a chaotic environment.
You can clearly assess and put down on paper what you want to accomplish and remember that you can always add to that checklist if you forget something. There’s nothing wrong with a growing checklist as long as you actually finish it.
Reward yourself with each step you take. Do a little dance or give your family a high-five when you mark a project as completed. Treat yourself in some small way for a job well done!
Before and after photos.
Taking pictures of how things look before you start, then taking pictures of how they look when you’re finished, are a perfect source of motivation and a reminder of your hard work.
You can really get a strong sense of how great things can be with a little effort. Candidly remind yourself how much better off you are having dealt with your clutter. You’d be surprised just how much better things can be when you look at things from a before and after vantage point!
Create a system to organize by “Keep it, Store it, Donate it, or Trash it.”
A tried and true method of dealing with clutter is starting with the old tried and true “four piles” technique. There are many variations of this and it works well.
The Keep It Pile: These are the things you really want to keep handy and accessible no matter what. The things you may use every day.
The Store It Pile: These are items that you can set on the top shelf and forget about for a while, but don’t need to get rid of completely. You know you will need them at some point but not today. Find a good spot you won’t forget where you put them though!
A neat trick is to send yourself an email with a list of where you put things.
Break them up into categories so you won’t spend hours
trying to remember where you put something.
The Donate It Pile: This is often the toughest “pile” for most people to create. Yes, you know you will feel good about helping someone else by donating these items BUT deep down you hate to part with them in fear of needing them one day. that you can donate or use for a yard sale.
The Trash It Pile: Ok, this is actually the EASIEST pile to do! We promise you that once you muster up the courage to actually throw things away you will feel so good! AND you won’t remember for very long what you even threw away.
This is also the quickest way to deal with clutter.
To the Four Pile Technique to Decluttering summarize:
- Keep It
- Store It
- Donate It
- Trash It
What are the essentials, and what are your favorites?
Ask a few questions with every item you pick up. Do I really use this? Is it one of my absolute favorites? If so, then, by all means, keep it front and center. If not, think about the best place for it even if the best place is not your place.
Avoid the catch-all space. (one closet or room that holds everything, don’t sweep it all under the rug)
If we’re honest, some of us deal with our clutter by throwing everything into a closet in the back room.
You know, those spaces with things that fall on your head if you so much as crack the door open. The catch-all area with mismatched items stuffed onto every inch of shelf space.
Try to avoid sweeping it all under the rug and calling it a day. Remember, clutter that has just been moved has not actually been fixed at all, just relocated.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. (small bites, let yourself feel what you need to feel)
If it’s genuinely too hard to get rid of something, allow yourself to process those emotions. What is necessary or even helpful is not often easy in every case. Some people also have a tendency to be too hard on themselves even allowing things to become slightly disorganized after we put in the hard work of “spring cleaning.”
Things might have been perfect for a while, but just because they have gotten out of hand again does not mean you can’t put them right in short order. So relax.
Remember it’s a process.
If you could “fix” your clutter once and for all, you would never have had clutter in the first place. Remember that keeping your house organized is a long-term process that will never truly be “done.”
Hopefully, you don’t have to don a hazmat suit to initially deal with your situation, but remember it usually will just take a little extra time to keep a space neat over weeks and months.
The trick is, once you get things in a manageable state, it’s easier to keep it that way afterward.
Areas to Keep in Mind. Room-by-Room Tips and Tricks.
Let’s go one step at a time and identify just a few common culprits for clutter, and what we can do to resolve them.
Desktops and countertops.
We all have a “junk pile” where mail or other notes accumulate, and sometimes we even lose our phone or keys underneath it! If you find yourself searching for that one paper you printed three months ago, try spreading everything out on the table or the floor and organize by sender or by date. Then, file them away using whatever system makes the most sense to you. Do this every few days or on the weekend to keep things in check.
Our main living spaces can most easily fall prey to clutter, but are fortunately some of the easiest to restore a sense of order to. Get a basket for your remote controls, and make sure the kids pick up their toys at the end of every day.
If you have so many blankets and pillows that you can’t even use your furniture, choose the ones that are the most comfortable or that are the most useful and put the rest away.
A thorough dusting can also help the room feel neat and clean once side tables are visible again, and vacuuming once a week will pick up loose crumbs from a fun dinner around the television.
Kitchen and pantry.
Nobody likes doing the dishes, but let’s do them anyway. Look at your shelves or cabinets and try to group like items together – plates, bowls, cups, mugs, etc.
Go through the drawers that seem to catch all the unusual measuring cups and other one-use tools, and see which ones you use regularly. Empty your pantry and refrigerator, then put things back in an organized way so that you can clearly read every label.
Oh, and throw away those leftovers that have long since won the game of hide-and-seek you’ve been playing.
Hallways and walkways.
Try to keep common traffic areas clear for foot traffic. You never know when you’ll have the phone in one hand and an armful of laundry in another on the way to the bedroom; when this happens, a few shoes and a loose bag can become a minefield.
Even a side table that you toss your keys on when you get home might be of better use someplace else if you can barely get in the front door.
Garage, basement, attic, or shed.
For many of us, these areas are prime suspects for clutter. Everyone seems to roll their eyes when we suggest cleaning out the garage, but it’s important to do this at least once a year. Hang yard and gardening tools on hooks or racks for easy access, and go through those boxes you haven’t touched in a decade.
Remember, don’t just throw things in the basement and forget about them – pull them out, decide if they’re really worth keeping, and get rid of what you have no intention of using again.
Bedrooms and bathrooms.
Simple tricks like organizing your clothing by type or color can help make getting dressed in the morning easier. Clearing out your dresser drawers and folding those T-shirts can give you more room than you thought you had.
Sort everything in your medicine cabinet, and pay close attention to expiration dates. Throw out things that are clearly past their prime, and give every surface a good scrubbing.
Think about new ways to organize based on what you use every day, and try storing seasonal items in boxes or containers on upper shelves or under your bed.
One area you can easily overlook is your electronic devices. Tech devices get smarter, but we still seem to have more and more of them as time goes on, not less.
That rat’s nest of charging cables always needs to be untangled. WE ALL HAVE so many chargers now! Try scaling down to only one charger for your phone, tablet, or laptop if possible.
Also, try unplugging everything behind your TV stand and rearranging using a cord saver to save space and have fewer cables going everywhere. Using a surge protector can also help in addition to preventing damage to equipment.
Closets outside of your bedroom need a little TLC too. Fold up linens when they’re not in use, and make sure your seasonal collections are stored in easy-to-see containers for easy access.
If you haven’t used that party platter in the last few years, chances are you won’t use it again – try donating it or selling in a garage sale for someone else to appreciate.
Introduce a system that’s easy to understand and easy to return to later when you do need to retrieve something.
Areas to keep in mind when battling clutter build up!
- Desktops & Countertops
- Living Spaces
- Kitchen & Pantry
- Hallways & Walkways
- Garage, Basement, Attic
- Bedrooms & Bathrooms
- Closets & Outdoor Sheds
Useful Decluttering Tools and Techniques
Do you still need some additional and practical ways to get rid of the clutter? Think about these easy and fun suggestions!
|Check Expiration Dates|
|What Do You Actually Use?|
|Do Your Clothes Still Fit?|
|Make Decluttering a Game|
|Create a System for Decluttering|
|Be OK With Throwing Things Away!|
|Change of Your System if it is Not Working For You|
|Keep Up the Great Work! Be Proud of Your Efforts!|
Expiration dates (food, medication, etc.).
This is possibly the easiest trick in the book: if it’s expired, throw it out. This applies to most foods, as well as some toiletries and medications. Not a lot of confusion here.
What do you actually use?
Another easy question to ask: do I actually use this? If the answer is yes, make sure you have easy access to that item. If the answer is no, think about the best place for it – even if that place is the garbage can.
Sizes and fit of clothes.
This one may take some time, but try on each article of clothing as you sort it. If it doesn’t fit, it might be time to send your gently-used items to the thrift shop, or your well-loved items to that big laundry pile in the sky.
Make it a game.
See how much of a surface (kitchen counter, desk, etc.) you can see and keep visible for as long as possible! Ha! That is a tough one!
Reward your children with stickers or prizes for putting away their toys or making their beds each night.
Or for yourself, play a simple mental game by seeing how long you can keep that freshly-cleaned bathroom countertop empty, or keeping the junk mail pile to a minimum.
Organization products. (shelves, bins, organizers, etc.)
There are countless ways to organize our spaces: shelving units, storage bins, organizers for pantries and cabinets, and the list goes on. Find what will work in your space for the things you need, and give yourself permission to spend a little extra money for what could be a long-term fix.
Introduce a system.
If you’ve never implemented an organization system, try one out for size. Try sorting your spices alphabetically, or organize your closet by color or season (coats vs. swimsuits). And don’t be afraid to change the system halfway through if you can tell it’s not going to work.
Fix what can be fixed, but be okay with throwing things away.
Sometimes, we may hold onto things that need minor repairs but never get around to them. When you find something like this, stop what you’re doing and see if you can actually fix it without an undue amount of work.
If it’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth, or if it’s cheaper to simply replace it, throw it out and don’t give it a second thought.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. (you’re not stuck with a system forever, feel free to change it)
No system is ever set in stone. If you’ve lived with one system for a few months but find that it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, shake it up without giving up. Keep trying until you hit the sweet spot that keeps clutter at bay.
The Benefits of Decluttering
Keep up the great work.
Remind yourself that getting rid of clutter is not getting yourself back to some kind of baseline – it’s a major accomplishment!
Take pride in a clean and organized home, not only for the space you have to welcome others but also for the way you can now live each day in a clutter-free zone.
The Bottom Line on Clutter and Decluttering
Clutter can happen to the best of us, but it’s not the end of the world. With a little bit of hard work and developing a plan of action, you can get rid of the clutter and live a happier, more balanced life.
Thanks for joining us on this decluttering adventure. As always, have fun and enjoy the day?
Joy of Today