How Clutter Affects Us
People underestimate and try to ignore how clutter affects us.
Every day I hear from women (and occasionly men) who feel buried or surrounded by household clutter. Stressed, tense and anxious, they tell me they’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start to clear it.
Each day feels like ‘groundhog day’, where precious time and energy is spent on cleaning, dusting, sorting and rearranging objects or looking for ‘missing items’ that have ‘disappeared’, only to reappear when they are no longer needed: it’s a demoralising and frustrating way to live.
Chasing a dream, living a nightmare
In pursuit of the ‘home sweet home dream,’ too many women find themselves ‘living a nightmare’; trapped by their own homes and the lives they’ve created. Instead of working for them, women tell me they feel like their homes are working against them – physically, mentally and emotionally.
“Something’s gone horribly wrong and I’m responsible for fixing it!”
These wonderful ‘superwomen’ (and chances are you’re one of them) who are striving to manage the complex and ever-changing demands of modern living are experiencing a lack of ‘the good stuff’ in life. I don’t mean things – I mean time, space, money, joy, love and laughter. Instead, too many of us feel constantly tired, frustrated, irritable and anxious, ‘running on empty’ with a ‘to do’ list that never gets done.
Breaking Up With Clutter Is Hard To Do
I’m sure you’re aware, decluttering your home and life in this environment is extremely challenging; it’s why breaking up with your clutter is so hard to do on your own, despite your best efforts and intentions the odds are stacked against you.
I wish I could help everyone in person, but there is only one of me to meet the growing demand for my in-home, in-person services. To help you and other women who are ready and willing, I’ve put together the ‘Clutter Busting’ series. So that you will not only be ready and willing, you will also be able!
How do I know what I know, and why am I so confident it will work for you? Because before I became a seasoned decluterrer a.k.a home organiser with a successful track record of helping people, I was a clutter magnet. The knowledge, information, insights and expertise I share come from a lifetime of experiences, lessons learned, and an absolute commitment helping people break up with their clutter, just like I did.
My Journey with Clutter
Growing up in the 70s, (like many of my clients) clutter was never an issue. We simply didn’t own as many things as we do these days! But add a couple of decades, a couple of children and a busy career, and I began to notice the dragging weight of the things owned by other family members and myself.
As a natural homemaker, moving and setting up home 17 times taught me many valuable lessons. Amongst them was the need be adaptable, quickly followed by how much time, energy and money were being wasted accommodating ‘possessions’ we didn’t need, want or have a use for!
The Most Valuable Lesson of All
Finally the most valuable lesson of all – that the only ‘things’ worth holding on to are good people and good relationships. Each move embedded the mantra ‘less is more’ deeply into my psyche. Since letting go of many of the items that had wormed their way into my life, and embracing cosy minimalism, I discovered my joy, and I’ve never looked back.
Alongside this personal experience of the reduced need for objects, was a growing acknowledgement of the shocking amount of waste we create in our modern world. Today, like many of us, living sustainability is a core value: it relates directly to how I work with my clients, how I live and run my business.
I focus on making the most of what people already have and helping people to switch their thinking, hitting the reset button on their homes and lives. In 2018, I launched my professional decluttering business Homes Revamped to help overwhelmed clients break up with their clutter and the stresses and strains that come with it.
As a seasoned declutterer I’ve seen first hand how clutter affects us, and the impact that decluttering has on people’s lives. I share strategies, tips, tricks, information and insights to help people conquer clutter. My mission is to help as many people as possible to create and maintain a home environment that works for them, not against them.
The Clutter Effect
What you need to know about the clutter effect. It sounds dramatic, but clutter affects our capacity for joy and more often than not causes misery.
When you’re surrounded, boxed-in and feeling cornered by clutter and the chaos it brings, there’s no space to bring in anything new. Both your home and life are full of ‘yesterdays’ with not much room for today, let alone tomorrow. And if you think you’re the only one experiencing this, think again. Here are just a few facts:
- You’re not alone – 90% of Australians are living with clutter, from ‘junk rooms’ to garages too full to park cars in
- We feel like we don’t have enough space though on average our homes are 3 times bigger than in the 1950s
- We don’t use 80% of the things we keep – so the thinking ‘I’ll keep it because I might need it’ is misguided
- The self-storage industry is booming as Australians pay thousands of dollars a year to store things rather than edit their possessions and let them go
- On average we dispose of around 32kgs of clothing each a year, wearing each piece only 7 times. All those clothes cost money, all that money was earned with your time
- We wear 20% of the clothes we own, 80% of the time, this is a stunning fact, but remembering it when we do your wardrobe declutter will make the job easier.
What Happens When You Declutter
The most common response to feeling cluttered is to rearrange, ‘organise’ or hide items to make them less visible. This doesn’t clear the emotional weight of too many things and comes at a cost, both financial and emotional.
Clutter in our homes is responsible for triggering the production of cortisol in our bodies. This stress hormone affects our thinking, behaviour, mood and overall general health, and women are more susceptible than men. There’s plenty of research out there that concludes the less clutter, the less stress!
By getting rid of the stuff you don’t need, we make room for the things you do. Not only making are you making your home more liveable – you’re making more room to devote to yourself, to family and personal relationships, and more.
The Declutter Effect
I genuinely believe that decluttering your home is the best way to declutter your mind and clear a physical and mental space for what’s important to you.
• You’ll reduce the stress triggers that are making you uncomfortable or even unwell
• By decluttering, you’ll also eliminate up to 40% of the housework in your home.
Just imagine what you will do when you reclaim that precious time!
The Bible and the Pink Coat: Adriana’s story
Let me tell you about Adriana, who contacted me after one of my clients shared her experience of working with me on an office declutter and revamp.
Adriana runs a successful business, is a keen crafter, a wife and mother of two teenagers. She told me she was time-poor, and despite several attempts had ‘never managed to get on top of the clutter’ in her home.
As someone who prided herself on being organised, Adriana said she was “avoiding rooms because of the clutter”. As the rooms in question were her home office and craft area, she knew she couldn’t carry on living this way.
After we met and worked together, we were able to identify the cause of her clutter effect.
Adriana realised that she had ‘procrastinated for years over getting rid of things I thought I SHOULD keep’. Together we “unlocked the mental shackles” that had been holding her back and prevented her from letting go of a pristine, white, leather-bound bible.
The Bible was a wedding gift, stored for more than 15 years, even though she couldn’t remember who it was from and it was neither needed or wanted. As for the cute pink coat, it was hanging on the back of a door. Adriana had told me her youngest child was in her teens, but the coat was for a three-year-old. It had been her daughter’s and in excellent condition. After we talked and Adriana thought about it, she was able to put it in the donate pile.
When we were done rather than feeling stressed or guilty Adriana told me: “I can now love my home again, thank you for helping me clear 15 years of clutter, my home office and craft area is now a joy to work in, and I’m motivated to keep going”. She did, with a mind cleared of the mental clutter that had been getting in her way.
Where to Start – The Recipe for Success
If you recognise yourself or any of the facts strike a chord and you’re ready for change, I’m here to provide you with a kick-start. In my next few articles, I’m going to give you my foolproof recipe for success. It will help you lift the weight of your clutter and transform your home and your life.
Together, once a week, we’re going to tackle three key clutter trouble spots in your home: Your wardrobe, the Kitchen/pantry, and the ‘junk’ room. I will give you a framework for decluttering so you can work towards success at your own pace. Included will be practical steps and the process to follow as well as food for thought.
When you follow my decluttering recipe – in less than a month you will be on the way to transforming the way you live and the relationship you have with the objects you choose to share your space.
What you will need
Before we get started on the practical decluttering of your home, it’s essential to make sure you are set up for success. So you’re ready to hit the ground running, spend the next week preparing and ensuring you have these elements in place: it’s the difference between failure and success!
As Adriana’s story demonstrates, and I know from experience, the fundamental key to your success is ‘mind over matter’ or the ‘decluttering mindset’ this, more than anything else, is what is going to shift the odds in your favour.
What to prepare this week:
1. Mindset: Get yourself in a decluttering headspace. Once you’ve read through this email, I recommend watching this inspirational TED talk by Graham Hill. It will help you switch your thinking and give you some invaluable insights about how we’ve ended up with a clutter problem.
2. Plan ahead and prioritise time in your week to do this: Decluttering is a big job, and you will need uninterrupted time to make an impact. I recommend working in bursts of 60-90 minutes, depending on your stamina, and no longer than six hours in a day (excluding breaks).
3. A focused approach
- Plan where you’re going to start and allocate time – stay in the room you are decluttering.
- Don’t be tempted to place things in other rooms, or you will get distracted.
- Have a drink bottle and a high energy snack with you if you feel you might get lured to the fridge before your 60-90 times break!
- Tell family members you are unavailable during this time. Comfort – dress for success – in this case, I mean wear clothes you can move in while we get to work, and layers, so you can shed them if you need to.
4. Environment: Do you love music? I recommend putting on either your favourite upbeat tracks or if you are feeling stressed, something more soothing to keep you company as you organise.
5. Resources: You’ll need a good supply of large, sturdy bags and robust boxes so we can pack as we go. For your wardrobe, you might like to get some new hangers if you don’t have enough, and for your kitchen some food storage containers. I recommend paying a visit to your op shop for the latter, they usually have quite a selection of storage containers at a fraction of the price of buying new.
6. An exit strategy: Whatever area we declutter in the coming weeks plan ahead, allow enough time for the removal of the clutter from your home (the garage or shed still counts as your home). Plan an op shop drop-off as part of your school run or a shopping trip. I include the removal of items to donate in my in-home packages, as I know this is where people come unstuck.
I love, love, love a transformation, and I’m excited to go with you on this journey. Until next week and the wardrobe declutter, take care, and know that things are about to change for the better!