It happens to everyone at one point or another – we look around our home and think, “Man, I have a LOT of CRAP! What do I DO with it all?!?!” You know what all that STUFF is? It’s CLUTTER – and odds are good that all that clutter is suffocating you. Do you really understand clutter… what it is AND what to DO about it? That’s what we’re talking about today.
After someone new to the concept of DEcluttering truly acknowledges that they have TOO MUCH STUFF all over their home, they naturally do the 2 biggest decluttering mistakes of all…
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There are two HUGE mistakes many people make when attempting to clear clutter from their homes:
1. They go about the futile process of trying to ORGANIZE their clutter, and
2. They work hard to HIDE their clutter in closets, drawers, cabinets and “catch all” rooms (ie, the guest room, the basement, the attic, etc)
Short term – sure, those 2 actions give you an immediate feeling of a clean and clutter-free home, and it’s a quick and easy way to “Emergency Clean”
Long term – Those 2 things do NOT work.
In time, all that “organized clutter” WILL become a cluttered mess again.
And, all those spaces with your hidden clutter will become full and you’ll run out of places to hide your clutter.
In short, your house will become even MORE cluttered than it was before you started fixing it.
To really purge the clutter from your home and your LIFE, you have to first start by understanding clutter.
1. What is clutter?
The dictionary describes clutter as:
• “things scattered in disorder”
• “to litter with things in a disorderly way”
That’s how the dictionary defines clutter but, to me, clutter is anything we do not need, want, or use that takes up space and creates disorder in our life. Clutter can be anything from clothes to magazines, books, newspapers, toys, nick-knacks or even furniture. These are just a few of the items that can clutter up your life.
Paper clutter is a BIG issue for many people, too!
Almost anything you own can become clutter if you let it get out of control – and reality is: you know your clutter when you see it because you FEEL it.
2. How is a Clutterer defined?
A clutterer is a person that becomes overwhelmed by their stuff. A clutterer is emotionally attached to their belongings, but is not so emotionally attached that they are unable to part with items if they really need to. Many clutterers are people that are disorganized and fail to find the time to declutter; therefore, things just pile up.
3. What is a Hoarder?
Hoarding is the excessive accumulation of items. Hoarders become so emotionally attached to everything they are unable to differentiate trash from items of real value. Hoarding can be a psychological disorder that creates health and safety issues in the life of the hoarder and those around them.
4. Difference between a Clutterer and a Hoarder
Being a clutterer does not mean you are a hoarder (we call it being a “pack rat“).
Clutter results from the inability to keep up with household chores. Unlike the hoarder, the clutterer knows the true value of items and has the ability to let go of items if they only found the time to declutter. Hoarders lose the ability to distinguish between items of true value and junk.
To the hoarder everything has value and the hoarder is unable to throw anything away.
Hoarding is a psychological problem that may require professional treatment.
5. What are the negative aspects of Clutter?
At times do you begin to feel claustrophobic, frustrated and have and overwhelming feeling that your life is starting to spin out of control?
If this is the case it is quite possible to trace those feeling back to clutter.
Clutter creates tension and tension leads to frustration and a loss of control. Clutter affects all aspects of your life; this includes your emotions, your professional life and your view of the future. Eliminating clutter helps to clear the negative forces out of your life that which, in turn, really helps to reduce your stress level and feelings of over-all happiness.
6. How to begin decluttering
Decluttering your home is such a rewarding and gratifying experience, BUT the hardest part is: Getting Started.
By the time one starts looking for help or Decluttering Ideas on Pinterest, they most likely feel SO overwhelmed by the not-so-simple question of “Where the heck do I START?”
There are many ways to get started uncluttering your home – you just have to find a simple method that works for you long-term.
MANY of our readers here have a TON of success with these 2 ways to start decluttering:
Once you get started decluttering your home it will fuel your momentum and motivate you to KEEP doing it – it feels GREAT to eliminate clutter!
The following are a few simple steps you can take to begin decluttering your home.
• First and foremost you must want to declutter and bring order to your life. If you are not mentally ready to begin decluttering there is no reason to start the process. You MUST get motivated to declutter and organize first.
• Second you must be emotionally ready to part with items that no longer have value for you. The decluttering process involves parting with items you no longer need or use. Be prepared to break the emotional ties you have with belonging you will be throwing out.
• Third is to visualize what you want your uncluttered space to look like. Get a picture in your mind and work toward that goal. Keeping your mind focused on the outcome will bring it into your reality.
Now that you have yourself mentally prepared to declutter the easiest way to begin decluttering a room is to get three boxes.
• Label Box #1 – Give-a-way
• Label Box #2 – Throw-a-way (Line with garbage bag for an easier way to throw out your trash)
• Label Box #3 – Put-a-way
Pick a room and pick a starting point within the room to begin your cleaning. My suggestion is to start at the entrance. From your starting point begin to systematically work your way around the room in a clockwise direction. Do not skip any areas. Every item within the room should be looked at. It may belong where it is, if so leave it. If not, place it in one of your three boxes. It won’t be long before your give-a-way box fills up and you will have to decide what to do with these items. Here are two options for you to consider.
• You can donate your items by taking them to the Goodwill or your local thrift store.
• Another option would be to list your items for sale on eBay or Craigslist and make yourself extra cash.
As you go through this process you will begin to realize how many items are out of place. Once Box #3 (put-a-way box) is full, stop decluttering and put those items where they belong. Continue this process until you have removed all the clutter within the room. You will find this a very easy and systematic way of removing clutter.
If even this process leaves you feeling overwhelmed, try my 3 secret tricks I use to make decluttering easier (and more fun!)
7. Benefits of removing clutter from your life
There are MANY benefits that come from removing clutter from your life. The following are a few examples of how reducing clutter will improve your life.
• Improve efficiency and free up time
By living in a clutter free environment you will find you have more free time in your life. Knowing where items are located means you will not be spending hours trying to locate something you are looking for.
• Peace of mind and emotional calmness
Have you ever heard the saying “Clutter on the outside leads to Clutter on the inside?” When you live surrounded by clutter, tension builds inside you. Clearing away the clutter around you, will relieve much of the stress and tension you are feeling within.
• Increase the space you live in
A decluttered space gives you a feeling of openness and freedom. Did you know that organized items take up much less space than disorganized items. By organizing and decluttering you will give yourself more space in which to live and work.
• Save money
The question you may be asking is how can decluttering save money? For many people, their items are so disorganized that when they need something they are unable to find it. Instead of spending hours looking for an item, it becomes more convenient to go out and buy a new one. Knowing what you have and where it is stored will save you money by not buying duplicate items.
• Locate items you forgot you had
As your decluttering process begins you will find items that you forgot you owned. Some of these items will be useful and you will want to incorporating them into your everyday life. Other items will have no value to you and it is time to throw them out or give them away. Getting rid of items you no longer need will free up valuable storage space.
• Feel better about your home and your life
Organizing and decluttering will give you renewed pride in your home and how you live your life. You will no longer be embarrassed or ashamed to invite guests over because your house is a cluttered mess. Not only can you take pride in your decluttering accomplishments, your spirit will be renewed and you will have gained a greater level of self esteem.
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