Are You A Chronic Yo-Yo De-clutterer?
STUFF. We all have it and most of us have too much of it. Not only is there our personal stuff but there is the partners and kids stuff too, even pets have a collection of stuff! We get rid of clutter and then suddenly the house is full of clutter again!
Why do we have so much stuff?
Well, there are many reasons, living in a society where material goods equal wealth and status, it is easy to see how most of us get sucked into all this.
This is all well and good, if you have enough money to buy a new house every time you fill up the last one but for the rest of us, we need to take control of our stuff otherwise it starts to overwhelm and consume us. According to New York Times Magazine*, 1 out of 10 Americans rent, off site storage even though the average American home has tripled in size in the last 50 years!
When you stop and think, and I mean really think about all the items you own there is one big question to answer.
Why do we need all these things?
Why are we seen as more successful if we have a big home, packed with lots of expensive items?
Why does a collection of material goods lead to happiness (or more like, why are we sold that dream?)
Now, I’m not going to try and convince you to become a minimalist, I’m not one myself and yes, it suits some people but I’m not ready to go to that extent yet. Plus, I imagine that you are reading this because you are fed up with the clutter and chaos in your home but not quite to the point where you want to live with just 100 items.
There are lots of great ways to declutter your home, using the one in one out method, 7 bags in 7 days, filling a box to donate, 10 minute dash but…
Decluttering Is Pointless Unless You Do This:
Like many lifestyle changes, first you must change (or look at) your mindset. If you are forever in that “I can’t live without…” or “I really must have…” state of mind, then you will never manage to declutter your home and move out of chaos.
You might throw out 100 bags of clutter but unless your mindset changes too, it won’t be long until all that clutter makes its way back into your home. You will be on the never ending cycling of yo-yo decluttering.
Change The Voices In Your Head
The language we use, the expressions we have picked up since childhood and the vocabulary we choose all have an impact on our behaviour. Do you often say things like…
- It might come in handy
- I’ll save it for a rainy day
- I don’t need it but it’s wasteful to throw it away
- It was expensive so I can’t throw it out
- You can never have enough… (bags, shoes…)
- I’ll keep it just in case…
Don’t worry, most of us do! So the first step to truly declutter your home is to tweak that language…
- Yes it might come in handy but chances are it won’t, so I’ll get rid of it.
- No, I won’t bother saving it for a rainy day because I won’t use it then either
- It feels wasteful to throw it away, I will ask about and see if anyone can make use of it, if not, I will get rid of it anyway. It has served its purpose, time to let it go.
- It was expensive, I appreciate owning it but now it’s time to let it go as I am not using it/don’t really need it.
- Yes, you can have enough bags, shoes etc. I hate to say it, but my husband it right on this one!
- I’ll keep it just in case… but never use it, so out it goes.
But it’s not just about chucking things out, you need to change your mindset about bringing things into the house too.
When good meaning friends and relatives are trying to unload their clutter on you, just say NO!
When you are window shopping, before whipping out your purse, think about the item, do you REALLY and I mean REALLY need it? Where in your home will it live? Or do you already own something that will serve the same purpose?
When you see a bargain, change that “I can never resist a bargain” voice to “I love a good bargain, just not this one”
As the voice in your head changes you will notice the clutter in your home starting to decrease. It’s important to say these thing out loud too, many of the expressions that you use with have been passed onto you by your parents or picked up from your partner, so use your new improved phrases out loud because your kids will be absorbing these subliminal messages too.
There are three types of clutter:
Everyday clutter – things that don’t get put away after use or don’t have a home so they become clutter nomads in your home! Everyday clutter often occurs because you can’t make a decision. Do I still need this? Shall I deal with the bills now or later? Will I wear this again?
When you can’t make a clear-cut decision the item in question end up in limbo. It doesn’t have a home so it gets shuffled from one place to another, making your home look permanently messy.
Get decisive! Go with your gut instinct, that split-second decision is rarely wrong. When you start to think about the choices, your decisions get cloudy. It gets harder to make the decision one way or another.
Maybe One Day Clutter – items that you think might come in useful one day, you might use again or recycle into something else. Stockpiling tins of soup and rolls of masking tape fall into Maybe One Day clutter too.
Often this is learned behaviour from our family, especially if you grew up with parents or grandparents that lived through the depression or rationing. Most of us don’t need to stockpile, if that zombie apocalypse happens the last thing you’ll be thinking is “I was so smart to stockpile 3 years’ worth of toothpaste!”
In fact, often stockpiling is wasteful as the product doesn’t get used by its best before date or over time it deteriorates rendering it useless.
Having a “spare” in the cupboard is a great idea, as is an emergency kit filled with useful items that you might need in an emergency. If you have fallen under the stockpiling spell, then do a good turn and donate your extras to a shelter or home that can use the items. That way you are not being wasteful, someone is making good use of it and you are breaking a habit.
Also, keep items that you tend to stockpile in one place, then you will know how much you have got and resist the urge to buy one ore because you have a feeling you’re going to run out soon. If you have your masking tape scattered around the house, you can’t possibly keep track of how much you actually have.
Memories Clutter – these are the items that help you remember past events, photos, souvenirs, newspaper cuttings, mementos… These are usually the hardest to deal with.
Often we don’t want to let go of Memories Clutter because it serves as a reminder of the good times, our achievements, then happy days! We feel guilty like it’s some kind of betrayal to throw these items away. Then there are the false promises, you know the ones – “I’ll organize all my photos into proper albums during the winter”, the reality is the photos stay in the draw as you get sucked into the next series of Game Of Thrones.
Start today. From today, when you download your photos, delete the crap ones straight away and label the good ones. If you have a bit of extra time you can go back to your archives and start organizing those. But for now, start from today.
Some people can be on top of their game controlling one type of clutter but totally swamped with another, understanding which clutter is causing chaos in your life will help you get a grip on it. If you are overwhelmed by all clutter of all shapes and sizes, you’re not alone!
From a study by ensuring, on average people lose or misplace 9 items a day while another study states it takes 7 minutes each time to find a misplaced object, mobile phone, car keys, and bills top the list. What is really scary is that for 63 minutes a day you are looking for misplaced items, how crazypants is that? You could watch an episode of your favourite TV drama, get a good workout in or spend an hour working on your biz if only you knew where your laptop cable is/was?!
Having A Real Reason To Declutter
It stands to reason that if we have less clutter we will have less chaos in our lives. Just looking at a cluttered room makes you feel queasy, by reducing the amount of stuff, you rein in the chaos and by default start to feel more relaxed.
Ask yourself why you want to declutter your home?
- You feel overwhelmed with so much ‘stuff’ lying around
- You are fed up with not being able to find what you need when you need it
- You are sick of the never-ending cycle of picking up
- You feel depressed and bogged down when surrounded by clutter
- You hate spending so much time each day, cleaning and tidying
- You hate cleaning with a passion and it’s so difficult to do when you have to navigate the clutter.
For me, it’s the last one, the others play a part too but I detest cleaning. If the floors are kept clear and we have no clutter lying around, I can whizz around the house and get the cleaning done quickly. If I have to start picking things up it takes forever and by the end, I’m more grumpy than Eeyore on a bad hair day.
Also, by having a no-brainer routine set up for daily cleaning and then the bigger jobs scheduled spread across the year everything is kept under control. Grab my House Cleaning Schedule & Checklist below (it’s free) and adaptable, I know we all have different homes so you can make it fit your needs.
Spending less time cleaning means you can spend more time doing the fun stuff and, who doesn’t want that?
Try closing your eyes and visualizing your home exactly as you’d like it, what does it look like? What points of beauty are in the room and how does it make you feel? Anchor that feeling and then whenever you feel like you have fallen off the decluttering wagon, you can close your eyes and bring your reason back to you.
And Finally, Having Less Is Better For Your Kids
Neil Gray of Dreamtown.co.uk commissioned a research study of 3000 parents which revealed that on average a child owns 238 toys but plays with only 5% of them on a daily basis. Mind-boggling when you think about it.
Think about your own kid’s toy collection, how much actually gets played with?
I was introduced to the work of Maria Montessori when my son was a baby and a lot of her teachings made good old common sense to me. Having fewer toys to choose from, the child spends longer with each toy, cleaning up is quicker and easier and the child has a greater appreciation and respect for the toys he does have.
Concentration skills are often much longer for children who have fewer toys, they spend a longer amount of time playing with each item, exploring it more, and figuring out different ways to use it and it fosters imagination.
And with fewer toys it’s easier to find each toy a home, making it easier for your child to take out what they want to play with and put it away. If it’s easier to put away they are more inclined to do it, which means less nagging from you! Win-win!
Stay on top of the housework with the Wonder Mom Cleaning Checklist (it’s FREE!)
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