Many of us live in homes that are full of clutter. We have little bits and pieces everywhere we go. Knick knacks and gifts, forgotten tools, broken parts, paper and mail and tons of other little things add up to a big mess. Not only is clutter bad for the look of your home it is also bad for your health. Living in clutter raises your stress levels and your blood pressure. Searching for lost items in clutter means wasted time. Clutter also provides a way for dirt and grime to build up, causing unhealthy living conditions. Not to mention that clutter can hide damage, like from mold, or provide a great hiding place for pests like roaches and mice. All in all, clutter is more dangerous than you would think. But how do you start ridding your home of clutter? Here are some helpful tips to live clutter free:
- Clutter Stops at The Door – To get started you need to make a rule. No new clutter. That means that every new thing you want to bring into your home must have a place to go and a valid reason for being there. I started small. The mail did not come in the door. Junk mail went in the big outdoor trash can. Coupons got cut outside and placed into their slot. Bills were paid immediately or stored in the ‘to be paid’ section of my inbox. Just this little step helped a lot. By limiting what you bring in you can stop adding to the mess and make it possible for even your small efforts to make an impact. It is like digging in sand; if you don’t stop the hole from refilling you are just wasting your energy.
- The Technology Intervention – Paper free is the way to be. Technology gives us ample opportunities to save paper ad even photos without having to actually have something physical on hand. Scan your bills, important document and even photos into your computer. Then trash the rest! If you are worried about losing it online, try cloud storage or a backup hard drive. A million papers can be stored in a tiny file online. Take it from me, getting rid of the paper really helps!
- Fix It or Forget It – Throwing away broken things seems to be a big stigma to some people. However I have a theory. If it has been broken for more than two weeks you should just throw it away. Why? Because it is obviously not that important to you. For big fixes like broken televisions or kitchen appliances you probably already got a replacement. Why are you hanging on to the old broken stuff? Unless you are a professional it probably isn’t even safe to try to fix it yourself. Instead take it to the scrap yard and get a few bucks or toss it. Even broken antiques are often a waste of time and space. No one will want to buy or inherit a chair they can’t sit on!
- Good For You – Keep in mind that not everything that is clutter is broken. Some things are perfectly good, and that is what stops us from getting rid of them. But think about it. Are you keeping things that are good or good for you? If you do not love it or use it then it does not matter how good it is. Get rid of it! Give it to someone who will appreciate it, donate it to a cause, or just toss it. It might seem bad, but in reality you are helping your health and mind so it is actually a smart move.
- Old is Not Gold – The big debate continues: is it junk or is it an antique? Just because something is old does not mean it is valuable. Don’t cling to old things because you think they will be worth something someday. Do some research and find out what the real value is, keeping in mind the current condition of the object. If it is worth a lot then sell it now. A bird in the hand… If not then get rid of it. Don’t cling to things you only think are valuable.
- The Collection Crazies – Why do people have the desire to hold onto everything. From baby shoes to toy cars to ceramic angels, people hold on to collections of things in order to feel connected to them. However how can you enjoy a collection if it gets so out of hand that it becomes clutter. If you can simply display your collection in a nice way then great. However if you have a room piled to the ceiling with your collection then you are in trouble. Think about what really matters to you. Stuff or relationships? Take a picture and sell your collection. Keep an item or two that are very special to you and get rid of the rest. Don’t collect just for the sake of collecting or trying to have it all. There will always be something more. Instead try to remember the love that caused you to start collecting and let go of the burden you have taken on.
- One Mountain at a Time – Little by little a mountain can be moved. That is how you have to take on clutter. You may get fed up with it all one day and swear to clean out the whole house. Don’t try to do that. You will just exhaust and frustrate yourself. Instead take it one day and one spot at a time. You can try to do one room a day or one room a month, it is up to you. Some of us have more to get out from under than others. For me it took four days of steady work to clean out one walk in closet. Don’t get frustrated and give up. Instead take it one small spot at a time and enjoy the small strides you make. If you keep it up you will eventually master it!
- Clothes Horse – Speaking of closets, some of us have clothes to blame for a lot of the clutter. No matter who you are or what you do you do not need more than one closet and one dresser. Most of us need far less than that. Take a look at your clothes. Are you saving clothes you don’t fit in any longer? Why? If you do get back to that weight you will want new clothes by then. Styles change so fast that only a few things can survive over the years. If you have clothes you have not worn in a year then get rid of it, barring fancy dress of course. Do not buy clothes that are on sale or in fashion just because. If you don’t feel comfortable in it at the store then you won’t wear it. Clothes that wrinkle easy, show sweat quickly, stretch out fast or bind up should be tossed. You have better things to do with your time than fool around with ill-fitting clothes. If you have been meaning to sew, hem, or repair the item for more than a month toss it. You will never get to it. Think about it: you probably wear the same few outfits every week. Why make it harder on yourself?
- Sometimes More is Just More – A lot of us think more is always better, but sometimes it is just more. Think about what is really important to you. Do you want to spend your time maintain, cleaning or picking up stuff, or do you want to spend time with your friends and family? The less stuff you have the happier you will be. It seems counterintuitive, but it is often true. Stuff holds you back, weighs you down, and sucks up your resources. Take the time to reduce your stuff and you will feel relieved in more ways than one.
- A Spot for Everything –Last but not least, make a pact with yourself to have a spot for everything in your home. If there is not room then maybe you need to toss something. I have made a deal with my family and myself. Every item in means another item must go out. A new shirt means an old shirt has to go. A new toy requires and old toy (of equal size) to hit the road. This helps me to not only have room to store items but to also keep clutter from taking over once again. It can be hard to stick to, but it is much easier to do it this way then to dig yourself out again in a couple of years.
As you can see, living clutter free takes a conscious effort but it is doable. These tips can help you to get rid of clutter and live a healthier lifestyle. When you do clean out the clutter you can call Fast Haul to come pick it up for you and save you a trip. Fast Haul’s junk hauling and trash removal services is always reliable in providing environmentally-friendly recycling and disposal for the Bay Area. Happy cleaning!
This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com