Tidy house tidy mind

We all know that overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by too much “stuff”. Whether it be cupboards of never-worn clothing, cabinets of never-used glassware, or piles of old magazines, clutter is the bane of the modern lifestyle.

When your home, office or desk is in a state of disorder, the overall feelings of stagnation and irritation can lead to a cortisol response, which in turn can have a negative impact on your health. High cortisol levels can lead to weight gain, particularly around the face, midsection and upper back, muscle weakness and acne, among other things.

While the task of tackling this beast and getting rid of your clutter may seem momentous, it really is worth it in the end – taking the time to create a comfortable, tidy living space not only improves the aesthetic, it makes the world of difference to your mental (and physical) well-being. This doesn’t only refer to cupboards, shelves and floor space; it can just as easily refer to digital devices such as phones, laptops and computers, and even calendar and diary entries. We’ve put together five points to help you make the decision to clear up the clutter and reclaim your space (and sanity!)

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Home sweet home

– Go through your kitchen and bathroom cupboards and throw away or recycle anything that is old or expired. This includes foodstuffs, medicines, cosmetics and toiletries.

– Pack away seasonal items such as heavy blankets when the weather starts to warm up. The same thing goes for cookware that isn’t in daily use. Make sure they have a designated spot that is out of the way but accessible when the need arises.

– Get rid of rubbish. Broken or old toys, incomplete sets, chipped mugs, documents from way back when, and books you will never read again, can either go in the bin or be donated to a worthy cause.

Clutter-free office space

  • Getting motivated is even harder when you have to wade through chaos on your desk. Wherever possible, opt for digital copies. Bank statements, bills and in some cases receipts can all be sent via email. Likewise, if you no longer need hard copies, scan in important documents and store them on a hard drive.
  • Tidy up your stationery. Pens and pencils can go into a holder, paper clips and drawing pins into glass jars, and accordion or box files go a long way towards keeping things tidy and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Recycle old and unimportant documents, or if they are of a private nature, shred them. There is no point in keeping outdated bills, receipts or documents; they can easily become overwhelming.

Be strict with cupboard space

  • Anything that is superfluous, worn through, full of holes, too big or too small can go to charity. Those jeans you wore 20 years ago that you hope to one day fit into? Say goodbye. They are taking up space and could be put to better use elsewhere.
  • Pack your clothes into seasonal sections by storing out-of-season items in a specified place. When the seasons change, swap your wardrobe around.
  • You could even go as far as creating a uniform style, setting aside specific outfits to wear on a daily or regular basis. This way your choices are more efficient and you can weed out items that you no longer wear or use (including lingerie, jewellery and make-up).

Digital decluttering

  • Many people don’t realise this because it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind, but clutter on your phone or laptop is just as bad as physical clutter, draining your battery while hogging storage space. If it’s important, back it up on a hard drive or cloud storage.
  • Delete apps that haven’t been used recently, old or blurred photos, downloaded documents or conversations. Not only will this free up space and make your device run more efficiently, but you’ll be able to find what you are looking for without having to scroll through three years’ worth of photographs.
  • Organise what’s left by arranging it into categories. In this way, you streamline your device and (hopefully) won’t need to spend as much time staring at a screen.

Decluttering life skills

  • Come up with a planning system that you can follow, be it in a digital format or a bullet journal. Be consistent and you’ll find that your social calendar, work commitments, finances and leisure time will run more smoothly.
  • Learn to say no. Is there a monthly event you attend that you really don’t need but feel obligated to go to? Opt out. Friends that you’ve grown apart from? Gently say no thank you. Being mindful about your time is just as important as looking after your space. It will also enable you to spend more time doing something you really love.
  • Remember to set goals, in both the short and long term, six months, one year and five years. Set aside time with yourself once a month to make sure you are keeping on track. In this way you keep on top of what is important without the weight and added stress and chaos that clutter brings into
    your life.

In a nutshell

  1. Reduce your commitments
  2. Re-evaluate your relationships
  3. Reassess your routines
  4. Simplify your rooms
  5. Streamline your cupboards
  6. Clean out your drawers
  7. Organise your work area
  8. Declutter your phone and computer
  9. Set up an organised system to keep on top of things
  10. Start small.
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