Let’s call clutter what it really is: noise.
More specifically, clutter is a cumulative, baseline noise level that sneaks up on us. Research has shown that it increases anxiety, hurts sleep, and harms focus. So how do you get rid of it, and how will your life change as a result?
Let’s begin by how to properly declutter.
Start with the Obvious
If you’re decluttering your bedroom, start by making the bed. If you’re in the kitchen, wash the dishes. If you’re in the bathroom, organize the medicine cabinet. These are visual obstacles to the decluttering process, and tackling them right away will make it easy to focus as you continue.
Form Three Piles: to Keep, to Put Away, and to Throw Out
Go drawer by drawer, surface by surface. Take out every single item and ask yourself, “have I used this in the last year?” Do you use it frequently? (Do you actually?) If so, arrange it neatly. Are you done using it? If so, put it back where it belongs. Is it a duplicate, something you don’t use, or something you’re setting aside for possible future use? Throw it away.
No, Really — Throw It Away
Decluttering is a process of letting go. You are fighting against your habits, and in a very real way, against certain insecurities. You’ll be glad you committed. You can get rid of mountains of papers by scanning them and storing them virtually, where you can print them if needed. If you have an abundance of sentimental items from childhood, try the trick of taking a photo and giving the item a kiss before getting rid of it. Donate clothes, books, appliances, and furniture.
Now, let’s look at the wonderful effects of decluttering:
A good goal is to be able to take one quick look, close your eyes, and describe every detail. For instance, your desk could simply be a black surface with a lamp, a laptop, and two speakers. It may be stark, but it allows your mind to process the whole scene at once, creating a clean launchpad for concentration and creativity.
Time is our most precious resource. Decluttering both saves you time and makes your free time more relaxing. Not only will you be less likely to lose something, but with fewer things around, you’ll also have a tidier mental catalogue of where they’re located.
Fight Club’s Tyler Durden said it best: “The things you own end up owning you.” In a way, we do end up belonging to our belongings — every possession takes up some real estate in our minds. This is the baseline level of noise mentioned at the beginning. By downsizing and minimizing, you are freeing up bandwidth for other thoughts and processes to unfold.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface of decluttering and the amazing benefits it can play in your life. Try it at home or in the office and see for yourself.
Danielle, Mia. “Massive Psychological Effects of Clutter, According To Science.” Mia Danielle | Minimalism and Intentional Living for Parents, 29 Aug. 2018, miadanielle.com/psychological-effects-of-clutter/.