In a land before baby, even before marriage, I didn’t worry about having too much clutter around. My living space was mine alone and I lived an almost bare essential, minimalist existence, stripped of sentimental objects and tokens.
Not now though.
Life now is proper adulting with a husband and a daughter and a cat. And each of us, thanks to a mixture of necessity, privilege, sentiment and consumerism has amassed our own little bundle of things. Much like most people in modern western society.
I just want to acknowledge before we dive into the post what a fortunate place I’m in to be writing this post in the first place. Even though the clutter causes anxiety sometimes and I find that a clean house and mental health go hand in hand for me, that- to me seems like a very advantageous position to be in over some other people. I just don’t want to seem too “first world” in that woe is me, I have too many things!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links from Amazon. For full disclosure see here
Living with less stuff and decluttering
Figuring out the type of clutter you have is a pretty effective way of helping you make hard and fast decisions whether you can just throw it out, donate it or keep.
Things to declutter
Random things in bedside drawers
Assorted items under your bed
Old linen you no longer love
Clothes you haven’t worn in a year
Cables that you don’t know what they do
All the unloved towels, sheets, pillowcases
Random card games
Old pillows and cushions
Broken Hair Bands
Old gunky products
Old baby products
Old bath toys
Holding Onto Items For A Friend
Clothing that they want back when they reach a certain size, a box of things that remind them of an ex, a box of childhood things they have given to you for safekeeping. While it’s a lovely symbol of faith that they’ve trusted you as keeper of their clutter, you are not a storage facility. Either their stuff is important enough that they can take it back, or you can dump it.
Ask that they make a decision by a certain date or it’s going in the bin.
Clutter Without A Proper Home
This is the number one source of too much clutter in my house and my biggest cause of organising related meltdowns. Objects that just don’t have a proper place designated. So they end up in “the drawer” or “the bench”. You know the one.
The everything drawer that contains random things like balloons and cables that charge nothing. That drawer suddenly becomes full so it spreads to another drawer and then there’s two. Before you know it, there’s an entire cupboard of miscellaneous junk.
Lucky there’s a post to help with that here!
Then there’s all the stuff you can’t see. The to-do lists. The organising behind the scenes. A lot of decluttering is so emotional that when people begin, they realise they aren’t ready for it, and invent reasons to stop.
Maybe you’re needing to work on yourself. Maybe you’ve just discovered the life changing magic of tidying up and you’re on board with Marie and wanting to Kon-Mari the entire house, but the other part involved wants to keep that tshirt they once looked at back in 1986.
Either way, there are negative effects of clutter, as you’ve probably guessed.
It’s commonly known that a messy home or living space leads to poorer mental health. Other reasons to cut the clutter is that it leads to poorer visual processing as well as less efficient recall.
Tips for mental clutter?
Try having a “command centre” somewhere in your home. Whether you’re a family of one or you have children, it’s useful. Keep a physical calendar with appointments nearby with a notebook to remind you of groceries, to-do lists, brain dumping etc.
Try bullet journaling if you’re keen to develop your own life organiser without having to stick to particular pages (or if you have an artistic side).
I have a Nuuna Journal that I bought from a physical store back in 2017. I’m not an every day journal-er (that’s totally a word) and I’ve still got half a book left.
Decluttering your head may be the hardest thing to get organised but try to remember it isn’t a linear process.
is it wrong to say I’m not a big fan on sentimental clutter? Does that make me sound like a scrooge? Most probably. By sentimental clutter I’m talking about your knick-knacks, ornaments, photographs*, plush animals and other things you keep because someone gave them to you or it reminds you of such and such.
*I love photographs and art, my scrooginess doesn’t go that far
Objects Without Storage Space
This is the clutter that’s the result of a lack of space. You have two options really. Make more space (either find the space, rent space or donate something else to make space) or say goodbye to the item.
Otherwise, you’re stuck with the clutter.
“But I Might Use It One Day!” Clutter
This is the clutter you keep for the alternative reality you. It’s aspirational clutter. Dresses that fit when you were 16 (you’re not going to have the body of a child again, get rid of it!), things you bought with the intention of using and never even took the tag off or old exercise equipment.
It doesn’t make you a failure to rehome or donate or even sell these things. It’s pretty self-aware to accept that you aren’t the person that is going to use these things, instead of ignoring their existence while they continue gathering dust.
Waiting for “some day” so you can get your monies worth will never pay off. The anxiety that clutter produces is a constant hum.
For more tips on decluttering see:
Good news! This clutter is the easiest to get rid of. I don’t have to tell you what garbage clutter is but I’m going to anyway. It’s the random receipts that you don’t need to keep, the wrappers that never made it into the bin.
So what to do if organising the clutter feels too overwhelming?
How to declutter fast
Firstly, grab some garbage bags. On total auto-pilot, you’re going to set a timer for 15 minutes and just grab the trash you see and put it in the bag.
This isn’t the time for dance parties or sifting through your memories, now’s the time to pick it up and bag it.
Grab some laundry baskets. Just plain ones, or buckets. Whatever you have will do. Start in whichever room you feel like doing. Whatever room freaks you out the most or whichever room needs to be cleaned and decluttered priority-wise.
It’s time to put the things back where they belong. So clothes will go in the laundry to be laundered (not now though, later!) or in the bedroom to be folded. Check out this video for more cleaning and clutter-busting tips by the organised mum:
Motivation to declutter
Having the motivation to declutter is one of the main reasons why people never get around to starting the organisation process. Once you build momentum and are in the flow of decluttering your space, it’s easy to keep going with it.
This is why I recommend making decluttering a weekly practice. It may seem over the top the be donating or repurposing things every single week but there is a caveat. If you bring things into your home (a new appliance, knick-knack etc) then consider rehoming another item.
If buy a new cookbook (recently we got Jamie Oliver’s new Veg, it’s amazing). I will decide that instead of overstuffing my bookshelf, I’ll take a well-read Marian Keyes back to the second-hand bookshop in exchange for store credit.
I find that the “one in on out” method works great for too much clutter when it comes to kids toys too. I’m a big believer in second-hand toys (and clothes) and we buy a lot of my daughters’ things from thrift stores.
Here are two ingenious products to help organise toys
Check out the below posts for more ideas on toy decluttering.
Do you feel more equipped to deal with the clutter now? Or did you use the reading as a procrastination tactic?
Let me know if you struggle throwing things away or rehoming them or if you can do it heartlessly like me lol
This Anxious Mum