The start of a new year is always an excellent time for a refresh and reshuffle, not just in your personal goals and aspirations, but also in your home and general living space. Our clutter and our possessions can drag our mood down more than we think, so why not do something about it? I always like to take this time to do a declutter.
As we look towards spring, spring cleaning and decluttering can put your mind at ease, relieve some of that anxiety and improve your concentration.
Start with Paperwork
I find it difficult to work in a messy office that has piles upon piles of papers stacked around everywhere. Are you the kind of person that holds onto every receipt and every bill? It’s a good, responsible practice to keep them for a while, but they still need a good sort out.
Take a look in the file cabinet you’re afraid to open and start sorting through your paperwork. They should all get organized by type (receipts, bills, contracts, identity documentation, etc.) and by year. That will make it easy to keep track and maintain the system by putting any paperwork away in the right category. You can use plastic trays for this, but you can also get some special dividers from any store that sells storage.
Generally speaking, if it’s over three years old and it’s not a contract or a warranty, it can be safely disposed of. And just like that, paperwork and tax season will not fill you with dread anymore.
Don’t Forget Your Digital Clutter
Decluttering isn’t just about physical objects, but also about digital ones. Do you get anxious looking into your own computer folders? What about your desktop? Consider purging your devices of any and all digital clutter that is slowing down your performance or ruining your focus.
You can start with your phone, the many apps you’ve acquired and never used and the photos stored away that you never look at. Surely your browser is drowning in open tabs and bookmarks, which makes your internet run slower and affects your work performance.
Do you need all this clutter? Not really. So why not clean it up and enjoy the free space? You’ll see how much better your devices run and how efficient you are once you’ve gotten rid of the backlog.
You Probably Have Too Many Clothes
In the 21st century, the average person has too many clothes. More than we can ever wear. And still, we buy more. But do you ever find yourself sitting in front of your closet, trying to find something to wear from your mountain of clothes? Do you have clothes that are old, stained or don’t fit? Are you overwhelmed by the amount of clothing you own?
Your wardrobe should never create feelings of anxiety and decision paralysis. That’s usually a sign that it’s taking up too much brainpower and it’s time to purge. Decluttering clothing can be an emotional process, so the best way to do it is to try to remain objective.
Start by trying on all of your clothes to assess quality, fit and style. Then you can create three piles: Keep, Toss and Undecided. Keep and Toss are pretty self-explanatory, and the Undecided clothes can go either in storage until you miss them (if you ever do) or can go back into your wardrobe. Every time you wear a piece, turn the hanger around. If within 6 months there are unturned hangers, you know what to do.
Kids Accumulate Too Much Stuff
If you’re a fellow mother, you can probably relate to the fact that children seem to accumulate a lot of belongings they only use for a short period of time. From baby paraphernalia to clothes they outgrow and toys that only retain their attention for 5 minutes, they’re probably strewn all over the house and you trip over them every day. Living in a chaotic space like that can really weigh on your mind.
Most people don’t think to extend their decluttering efforts to their children’s belongings, but this can actually be a wonderful opportunity to teach them a valuable lesson about only keeping what you need and sharing with others.
Anything they’ve outgrown can be safely donated, and as for toys, you may pick a number of toys they’re allowed to keep, have them choose what they want to keep and what they want to toss or institute a one-in-one-out system. If they want a new toy, they need to give one away. That should keep the clutter and the chaos under control and hopefully out of sight.
Do You Use All Your Kitchen Appliances?
If there’s one thing that messes with your flow, it’s a messy kitchen. It’s not just unsightly, but it’s impractical – you need that valuable counter space that is currently being used up. Everyday dishes are easy to put away, but what about all your kitchen tools, appliances and gadgets that you never use? Surely those can be decluttered.
I’d start with deciding on your big pieces. Do you use all of your appliances? Your coffee maker? Your toaster? Your huge stand mixer? That’s a lot of counter real estate, and even putting them away until their next use can make a big change.
Now let’s tackle the cutlery drawer. If you’re anything like me, you used to get sucked into ads and the superficial “need” for specific doodads and tools that you rarely (if ever) use. Consider giving them away or selling them with the knowledge that you can always borrow something if you happen to need it. Why own a fondue pot if you never make fondue? You’ll be surprised at how much space you can free up this way.
For too many people, clutter is a lifestyle, and it’s affecting us in more ways than you know. A cluttered home can lead to heightened feelings of anxiety, restlessness and difficulty concentrating. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to start paring back on our family belongings and why decluttering is so important to achieving a simpler, more content life.
Teresa Bennett is a passionate writer and reader. She is fascinated by all things real estate, travel and health. She lives with her two cats and a dog in a small menagerie.