Does your house sometimes feel like a Where’s Waldo cartoon? You keep looking for things and can’t seem to find them. Each day it is something else that has gone missing and more valuable time spent looking for it.
It is obvious that clutter can equal stress. Just looking at it alone can cause a fight or flight response. Some people will attempt to ignore it, but it is still there in plain sight. And stress levels are increased at the thought of having to get it done. Especially if you just can’t seem to find the time.
This is a wellness issue because it can affect you and your health. Clutter creates an underlying level of stress. Cleaning and organizing it can actually benefit you because the body will release endorphins just like an athlete gets when running. Clutter can also affect your allergies. Old clothing and stuffed animals are well known for harboring dust mites. Ridding your home of uninvited dust mites will improve your comfort and well being. Spring cleaning is an option all year round. Most people feel a sense of accomplishment and are readily able to relax in a clutter-free environment.
In my prehistoric days, to which I refer to as pre- children, I had a need to have everything in its place and neat and orderly. My knick knacks had a special place on the shelf. My car was clean and smelled good. If I had a responsibility to take care of, I had time to get it done. Nowadays with children, to which I can refer to as post- traumatic, my order has gone out the window and has been replaced with a day-by-day option. Yes, I need to get that bedroom cleaned up and the laundry put away, but the water in the basement has taken priority. I will go one more night with that on my list and nobody will get hurt. I have clutter in my home. It sits quietly in the junk drawers and lurks in the laundry room. I will get to it when it tops my priority list. At this point, I do not need an intervention, but other people might.
Have you seen the show Buried Alive on the Discovery Channel? This is an extreme example of collectors mixed with clutter. These situations can be unsafe but to the stashers, these items are not clutter. Multiple books have been written on this issue. It can be sensitive to people. They do not want to simply throw everything out. That would be heartbreaking to them and this clutter distress can vary. By locations, by the day, by the person.
What level of clutter do you have in your life? Can you have your home ready in 15 minutes for company? Would you consider your work area to be “an organized mess" where it looks awry but you know exactly where everything is? Do you avoid certain rooms because it has a clutter disaster waiting for you?
About.com has a poll asking “How cluttered is your home?” The results so far show that over 60% of the 10,000 participants have clutter in their home between "moderate" and "in need of an intervention." The people in need of an intervention state that they do not know where to start with the cleaning. For me, I like to make lists. It feels great to check everything off as it is completed and it helps me relieve my mind of responsibilities. Mental clutter can be debilitating as well. Be sure that you are not over thinking too many things at once. A jumbled brain and a jumbled house will send you spinning. Step back, prioritize, make a plan and regain focus.
Experts suggest going through your home one room at a time.
Use about three boxes. One is to give away, one is for trash and one for things to keep. A few other suggestions follow below:
- Be selective about what you choose to save.
- Do not keep an item out of guilt.
- Live in the present and not in the past through a “thing”. If you do not have a place for an item, it is time to let it go.
- Make it enjoyable with music.
- Small goals like 20 minutes a day to start are easier to accept than overloading yourself and creating more stress.
- If you bring something into the house, then you need to bring something OUT of the house. (Not into the garage. We all know this is garbage limbo, just a step away from trash anyway.)
- Ask yourself if you really need each item. And do you have a specific place in the home for it? If not, then it will need to find a new home.
This can be overwhelming for a lot of people. Extra help is always an option. Ask a family member or friend and organizational experts are available for a charge.
Start out with these suggestions or help someone you know who is stuck. Get one room organized at a time and KEEP IT THAT WAY. Ask for help when needed and once you get into the habit of taking 15-20 minutes a day to put things back where they belong, you will be set free from the clutter anarchy.