Just. So. Much. Stuff. Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you own? You’re not alone. Two out of three of us admit to wishing we had less stuff – you know receipts stuffed in a drawer, unworn clothes in the wardrobe, emails clogging up the inbox. But with studies revealing that a house full of junk can have a detrimental effect on your mood, it could be time to finally sort your sh*t out.
“Clutter is a metaphorical weight on your shoulders,” explains Olga Levancuka is a life coach and author of ‘How To Be Selfish’.
Clearing the clutter can have a benefit not just on your space, but also your health with psychologists finding that women with overly cluttered homes have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol which can have far reaching consequences not only on your stress levels but also your overall health.
Meanwhile a study by UCLA showed that physical clutter affects people’s ability to focus, process information, and be productive.
“If you can see it, whether you realise it or not, it’s on your mind and if it’s on your mind – even if you don’t acknowledge or realise it – anxiety starts to creep in and before you know it, you feel more weighted. If you have felt tired lately or can’t fell asleep as easily as you used to perhaps its time to declutter,” says Olga.
And considering this week marks National Organising Week (NOW), what better time to tackle your stuffocation…
Research from Barclaycard has revealed that we’re wasting a massive £1,033 worth of wardrobe space by storing clothes and accessories we don’t wear. The average Brit wears less than half (41%) of their wardrobe items on a regular basis, and over a tenth (12%) just once or never at all. Time to stop being a fashion stasher!
First identify the clothes you’re not wearing, storage expert, Alison Handling has a handy tip. “Hang your clothes with the hangers facing all one way. Then when you wear the clothes and return them to the wardrobe place the hanger the opposite way. After three months check how many hangers have been untouched and clothes unworn.”
Stylist Alex Longmore suggests creating 3 piles: one to keep, one for charity shops/to throw away and one “to mend” pile. “The keep pile should be the only one in your wardrobe and be strict with yourself and don’t have a ‘maybe’ pile, if you’re not sure, send it to a charity shop.”
Elizabeth Hearn, mindfulness expert and iCAAD presenter, suggests adopting an essentials only discipline. “Lose the ‘emotional need’ to be prepared, because it usually never happens.”
“Nobody enjoys that feeling of digging around in our handbags searching for something like a needle in a haystack, but you can banish the stress in a few simple steps,” says Vicky Silverthorn, professional organiser and author of Start with Your Sock Drawer: The Simple Guide to Living a Less Cluttered Life
Vicky suggests emptying the entire contents of your bag and laying it all out in categories: make-up, stationary, toiletries, meds or vitamins, tech and miscellaneous. “Then buy some small toiletry bags (all different is best). This is how many bags you will need unless you are happy to combine. Give your keys a ‘go to’ place or pocket.” Ta da! NEVER loose or rummage again!
E-hoarder? Time to clean up, digitally speaking. “Get into a habit of unsubscribing from anything that you are not sure about or that you keep receiving out of habit,” says Olga. “Delete daily at least 20 emails, from your junk box or even old ones which have accumulated for whatever reason. From being the person who avoids checking emails, you’ll start to feel excited to see your inbox filling in with work and social invitations.”
And the digital decluttering doesn’t stop with your inbox. “If you’ve moved all your social interactions to other technologies such as WhatsApp – you need to clear this too. It takes up a lot of your android’s memory space, which could be used for your favourite music and newly discovered audio books. And just to have some available memory is also good as it gives you the feeling like you have ‘space’,” Olga continues.
Whether you’re a beauty fiend or your make-up bag is more on the minimalist side, Vicky Silverthorn says we’re all guilty of keeping products we never use. “Make-up does have a shelf life, so you need to get rid of all that is probably now bacteria riddled,” she says.
“First empty every single bit of make up you have in your home and lay it out. Categorise and get rid of the old and the manky, then buy some make-up bacteria spray and get spraying.” Vicky recommends introducing an organised system where that enables you to see the products you have. “If you can’t see it there is no way you will remember to use it. We use what is in view.” She suggests using drawer dividers like these from the Holding Company.
Your social life
Yep even your diary needs a spring clean now and then. “Spending time with the people who like and love you is great but you also need some ‘me time’ and you might also want to dedicate time to achieve your own personal or career goals,” says Olga. “Being social has its time and place. Declutter your diary from social appointments with people who are not that important to you and spend less time going out with them. Prioritise time with friends and people who matter to you the most and allocate some time for yourself.”
Olga also believes it can be beneficial to declutter your social media feeds too. “Remove outdated images or quotes from your Instagram account or else. You are constantly evolving, don’t let the clutter of outdated photos and sayings to drag you back to who you used to be,” she says.
Your junk drawer
Everyone has one. That drawer where you stuff everything from receipts to raggedy old keys. “This task is easier than you think and will take you all of 20 minutes,” says Vicky Silverthorn. “Don’t use the rummaging method it will bore you. Tip it all out Use a tea towel to empty it on if you haven’t been in there for a while!” Vicky suggests having a bin bag ready to discard everything you don’t use, know you will never use and that you can truly live without.
“Use drawer dividers or even shoe box lids (I use a kitchen utensils tray in mine) to separate items so you can see them. Everyone is allowed a junk drawer but having one that is organised makes it far more practical.”
Your to-do list
Drowning in must-dos? We feel ya! “This one is about being honest with yourself,” says Olga. “If you keep moving even one task from one to do list to another for a few weeks, it’s clear that you will never tackle the task. In this case, your cluttered to do list is only scratching the surface and covering the real issues.”
Olga suggests only keep the tasks you will actually do on your to do list. “This will give you some breathing space and a feeling of being released from a lifetime obligation,” she explains.
“Then, go for the root of your problem. What you’re not doing is not being honest with yourself by dragging those tasks you never do from one list to another.”
“The most important thing about decluttering your desk is to have one simple action tray,” says Vicky Silverthorn. “Anything within this tray is something you have to do, though I think ‘to action’ is a far friendlier term. As long as your filing system is easy and non-faffy then an over flowing filing tray can also be avoided.”
Vicky suggests using a drawer system for filing like this Bisley 10 drawer cabinet. “Within the drawers separate documents you need to with thumb-cut files and label at the end so that it is visible. Keep categories basic and collated. Remember any system that you implement that is unnecessarily complicated means you are less likely to keep it up.”
Elizabeth Hearn, mindfulness expert and iCAAD presenter, has another desk de-cluttering tip. “Shred. Scan all your receipts, essential documents and photos. Store sentimental cards, letters and notes in recycled online-delivery boxes – Zara’s are perfect.”
A tidy desk = a tidy mind and all that.
“If there’s one thing worse than having a cluttered home or work space, that’s having a cluttered mind,” says Dominica Roszko, health expert, and founder of www.vegerasta.com “A cluttered mind is unfocused, constantly distracted and restless. It tries to move in many different directions at once and the result is that very little gets done. Mental clutter pulls us off centre, disrupting our balance.”
Dominica has some simple tips for decluttering your mind:
Breathe. Very simple and effective. Take a deep breath, and concentrate on your breathing as it comes into your body, and then as it goes out. You will immediately notice a calming effect.
Write It Down. You don’t need to keep everything stored in your brain. Choose a tool—it can be an online tool, an app, or even a notepad—and write down everything that you need to remember (appointments, phone numbers, to-do-lists, shopping lists, ideas, things to check later, etc.)
Keep a Journal. Write down all of your thoughts, worries, hopes, and experiences. It allows you to observe the events and your current situation from the distance. Treat it as a therapy. Do it everyday as the more you do it, the more peaceful you’ll become.
Appreciate an Alternative Activity. Everyone needs to switch off – whether that’s with the family, friends or becoming immersed in a hobby or activity they love.
Get active. It will get your endorphins moving! Exercise helps control your weight, prevent illness, boost energy, and improve your mood. It helps you sleep better, feel better, and focus better. Find something that inspires you. There’s no point in committing to daily running at 6am, if you are not a morning person or simply hate running. Choose an activity you love.
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