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Clutter Free, Stress Free?

Life is busy and we come and go racing to the next meeting, class,  school event, or kid’s activity. Over time, this “drop and go lifestyle” can result in clutter in our homes and offices and lead to added stress in our lives. I’ve been experimenting lately with clearing cluttered areas of my home and paying attention to how an organized environment changes my mood for the better, helping to reduce stress and increase a happier mindset.

The idea came from reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin.  It’s a fabulous read and highly recommended.  One part of the book, Gretchen tackles household disorder as she noticed it was a constant drain on her energy.  Taking a look at the fight against clutter and the “more enervating psychic clutter of loose ends.” You know the kind -the endless list of neglected tasks around the house that  drums up feelings of “weariness and guilt”. I love how she lays out descriptions of her clutter classifications.

Giving some thought to this very subject about clutter around our home, it posed this question:  “When everything has its own place and is in an organizing space, can this simple low priority task boost happiness and reduce stress?  Can it lead to a happier home and/or more productive work environment?” I decided to test this theory on my own and share my findings in hope that these quick tips provide peace and reduced stress for you as well.

Let’s get started. It’s motivating if you can dedicate a few days or a weekend to a total gutting and organizing session, but also satisfying if you’re only able to tackle one smaller section of your home and continue organizing in smaller doses. Maybe it’s that one closet down the hall that needs some attention, or a “junk” drawer in the kitchen, or a Tupperware drawer or cabinet, or the kids toys? You get the idea. Each day, I chose one section that required attention, spending  time tossing or setting aside items for garbage or a yard sale, and in less than an hour, completed that section. As each cabinet or drawer was finished, I was inspired to move onto the next, tackling the kids closets and finally, the much needed master bedroom closet!

HOME CLUTTER CLEARING:

If it doesn’t fit or you never wear or use it, it’s time to clear space to make room for the items we are currently using. What clothes have you not worn in the last 6 months or year?  Are they necessary to keep? Are shoes in good shape or in need of repair? As I cleared out the clutter in my own home – out went our outgrown clothing and shoes, forgotten jackets, games, toys, etc. I was even able to find additional storage space by sorting through books and games we no longer use, and storing extra sheet sets and comforters in vacuum seal Space Bags storage bags.

In the kitchen I cleaned out my pantry shelves; scrubbed, organized, set aside for donations or discarded items that I no longer used. The same fate was in store for refrigerator items-especially those stored in the refrigerator door! (How many of those have been in there for a LONG while?). Take a look in your own fridge and see what you might find!

I suggest that as you clear out your own clutter, consider having a yard sale for all of the items you no longer need or make donations to local establishments.  One man’s junk is another man’s treasure! Making a couple hundred dollars or helping others in need are nice rewards for your efforts!! Do you have a teenager in need of fundraising or spare cash? Put them in charge and have them see it through – it’s a bonus life lesson. My youngest daughter always wants to provide water and snacks for the hungry yard sale shoppers that stop by our yard, so I  let her set up a small table to manage during our clutter sale and she’s able to keep the profits.

OFFICE CLUTTER CLEARING:

We have a small casitas at our home which we use as a home office. It houses two of our businesses and fits three of us, so workspace and storage is limited. The space we created is functional and efficient and void of clutter. It has to be or we would all drown in paperwork!!  We even utilized a portion of the attached bathroom! Since we didn’t use the shower, we put together a shelving unit for storage of our office supplies and decorated with a shower curtain for a pleasing view.

organize

Our filing cabinet lives in a small closet tucked out of the way, but accessible. Maybe you also have a small workspace or office of your own in need of organizing? Take a look around and see where you can address vertical storage or unused space. Organizing information and maintaining our workspace allows us to be able to locate information quickly and recall details accurately, which keeps stress levels down. Standing file racks and stacking trays also work great on desktops in order to keep working files tidy and within reach.

Now let’s address electronic clutter! Have you checked your inbox lately? This can be a huge underlying stressor knowing there are messages unattended; or worse, letting your email pile up. Do you address it daily or is it in need of filing and sorting? Do you clear out junk mail, organize folders for important email history or flag mail to get back too – these tips help to keep on top of email. An organized inbox can help keep stress levels low at work throughout the day. Spend a few hours sorting and organizing your mail and see how it boosts productivity when you have a much smaller inbox to manage!

As each project is finished, take a step back and pay attention to how you feel knowing it is now organized and orderly. When you walk in the room, do you instantly feel that life is in order and happy to not see clutter? When you look around your home, does it bring a smile to have everything in its place? Perhaps fade away irritability? It does for me and the good feeling spreads through the whole family when the kids and hubby get involved and help out! This summer, my youngest daughter decided on her own that she likes the way our home looks when everything is put away and tidy.  I’m so glad she is already realizing the importance of keeping our clutter to a mimimum and she’s proud of being a part of helping keep our space in order, so with our yougest as our inspiration, we decided to continue our efforts throughout the house, inspiring daddy and sister to step up too! Don’t be afraid to involve the family; after all, they too contribute to the clutter!!

One important take away from this experience: we all have 24 hours in a day to accomplish what we need too. As busy as we are, there’s always time to dedicate to clearing out the clutter, if we choose to make the time. It was interesting to see what happened each time I stepped away from the TV or passed on checking social media or Internet surfing, taking those few minutes to apply myself toward my project. Plus, I found joy and satisfaction knowing my home was no longer cluttered! I was happier and it did boost happiness throughout my home. At the office, I’m more productive and spend less time looking for paperwork or emails. The results of my experiment were successful. I found my stress greatly reduced with my home and office peaceful and life in order. Finally, getting to cross off items on my nagging “to do” list was a bonus!

I enjoy knowing that no matter how crazy our busy work and activity schedules get, home base is in order. Nowadays, the whole family takes a few extra minutes daily to put things away, clean a few dishes, complete chores, make their beds and clean their rooms so we can  maintain and appreciate our peaceful environment, not just me – and that’s pretty cool. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not perfect and we remind each other all time to pitch in when we’re busy, but it’s funny how one small change made such an impact! I know all too soon my beautiful girls will both be grown and off to college. The house will be quite, and we’ll miss a bit of the disorder. So, really, it comes down to balancing life and work now, keeping happiness up and stress down and bringing order to your environment to help keep some sanity.

What are your thoughts or tips on getting/staying organized?  Write them in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you. Happy De-cluttering!!

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0 thoughts on “Clutter Free, Stress Free?

  1. I recently moved and had to pack and move it all. Definitely a good idea to de-clutter before you have to do this! Now I’m going through it with a different eye and much is going to the Good Will.

  2. I recently voluntarily closed a portrait studio to go back to teaching elementary school and had to move all of my crap-ola from my studio into my home. What a mess! I gave myself one summer to donate/pitch/sell all my stuff and struggled greatly with letting go of the identity I’ve had for 13 years. What if I need these camera lights again for that shoot I might want to do…? What if someone has a fire and they need to have images reprinted? I ulcerated, but then realized that I just couldn’t live in this house with my “old life” anymore. I went for it and felt incredible relief when it was all gone. It helped me focus on my new job and what was ahead of me, rather than behind me.

    Loved this step by step post. I really feel decluttering can give incredible clarity and an endorphin rush–who doesn’t want that?

    1. Laura, I can definitely understand your feelings of relief when all the clutter was gone! Especially after a move or a big life change! It’s always crazy to me how things build up over time, even with our best intentions, but life is busy. It is definitely therapeutic to make a move to put things back in order. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story!!

  3. This is one of the best things you can do for stress and anxiety- spending an hour clearing out physical clutter can have a massive effect on clearing out your head. Solid advice.

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