THE INCREDIBLE BENEFITS OF DECLUTTERING
So what’s all the fuss about?! I could rave on about the benefits of decluttering forever but let’s keep it to the top five for now:
Always running late? Never able to find things when you need to? Clutter gets in your way and takes time out of your day. Let’s face it there isn’t enough time in the day as it is without losing your keys, phone, umbrella, or rooting through piles of clothes to find the top you NEED for that important meeting today!
Part of the problem is that every item in your home needs a designated spot but 9 times out of 10 the problem is that you have too much stuff in the first place. It’s impossible for it all to have a designated spot in your home.
Decluttering saves you time as it streamlines your belongings. Reducing your belongings to those that bring you happiness and those that are useful or absolutely necessary will mean that everything can have a home! It also speeds up housework – tidying up before guests come over gets so much easier as does cleaning. Plus you no longer have THE FEAR when a guest opens one of your cupboards looking for a mug (you know the feeling – where you close your eyes, cross your fingers and hope they don’t die in a tsunami of tupperware…)
It costs us all a lot of money to rent or buy our homes (and in London we all know we don’t get much bang for our buck). However, somehow we don’t seem to make the connection between the space in our home and its value to us. If you are spending £X a month on rent or a mortgage then everything in your home should be paying its way! It is costing you money to store your clutter and even more so if you are renting storage units for your possessions.
Clients often tell me “but I can’t get rid of that, it cost me £X”. The “sunk cost effect” is the tendency for humans to continue investing in something that clearly isn’t working. For example, you bought an expensive jacket but never wear it because it does not suit you. You continue to allow it to take up space in your wardrobe at the expense of other items because of how much you have spent on it, rather than considering its actual value to you. It’s in our nature to avoid failure but we often spend considerable time and money (e.g. storage solutions) to house expensive mistakes instead of cutting our losses, letting go of items and moving on.
If clutter in your office is causing you to be disorganised or unproductive at work, you could risk losing out on a promotion. If you are self-employed, spending valuable time looking for your stuff means less time to focus on your own venture and important things like invoicing clients.
Ever bought a duplicate? Maybe you knew you had the item at home but just can’t find it? Or maybe you completely forgot you had that item already! Know where your things are, and you’ll save money by finding them when you actually need them!
Clutter impacts us subconsciously – a bit like when you haven’t closed apps on your phone and they are
running in the background but they are still there using your battery life. Often we do not link clutter with stress, worsening moods or anxiety when it may be having a detrimental effect on us. At its worst, clutter can have a severe impact on our mood and mental health.
Research has shown that generally clutter has a more emotional impact for women. According to researchers at UCLA’s Centre of Everyday Lives and Families (CELF), there’s a link between high cortisol (a stress hormone) and women who own homes with a “high density of household objects.” That means that the more stuff women have, the more stress we feel.
Decluttering will lift your mood and give you a feeling of accomplishment because you are taking back control of your life.
If you have excess stuff on your desk or your working environment (whether at home or in the office), you are making it harder for yourself to get anything done. If you take 10 minutes of your day to remove extra papers, dispose of rubbish and generally clear the decks, you will feel so much better.
Creative types often say they do their best work in cluttered environments. This may be controversial but the research suggests otherwise! Mikael Cho (Co-Founder/CEO at Unsplash) had first hand experience of this. As he says in one of his blog posts, neuroscientists at Princeton University looked at people’s task performance in an organised environment as opposed to a disorganised environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention. This results in decreased performance and increased stress. This is because your brain is dividing its attention amongst many stimuli. It is unable to concentrate fully on the most important task before you.
Try clearing your desk and take a moment to see how it makes you feel! Often clutter can be a security blanket and can make us feel that we are “busy”. In reality, it can be preventing us from getting our best work done.
5. LET GO OF THE PAST AND CONCENTRATE ON YOUR FUTURE
Clutter is not just about quantity but also quality. Holding onto artwork from an ex-boyfriend which ended badly and reminds you of him every time you look at it? Holding onto that dress which is gorgeous but makes you feel chubby every time you put it on? Don’t underestimate the psychological power of stuff! Give yourself a break and get rid of things that drag you down, make you feel guilty or sad. Your stuff may have served its time or it may have taught you a valuable lesson.
If you are surrounded by things that inspire and motivate you, this will have a positive impact on your life. Decluttering can be a rollercoaster of emotions and for that reason it can be harder than you think. It can be a difficult decision-making process but practise makes perfect. The better your decisions are over your possessions, the better your decisions will be in other areas of your life.
What would be the biggest benefit of decluttering for you?