Perhaps you’re moving into your first new home. You’re in…
Your home ought to be a retreat from the stress and pressure of the world outside. However, if it’s instead making you feel anxious, helpless and overwhelmed it might be time to address the mess.
According to psychologist Sherrie Bourg, clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces and ourselves, but it’s rarely recognised as a significant source of stress in our lives. (Psychology Today, March 2012)
Bourg highlights a number of reasons mess leads to stress including excessive stimuli causing our senses to work overtime; distraction; difficulty relaxing physically and mentally; feelings that work is never done; anxiety about getting through it all; guilt and embarrassment when people visit; inhibiting creativity and productivity; and frustration caused by difficulties locating things.
Breaking free from clutter may feel overwhelming and be time consuming, but if you take on each task in separate increments, you can celebrate the wins along the way – and be rewarded with that wonderful cleansing feeling.
In the long term, the health and lifestyle benefits of decluttering your home are plentiful. Every trip to the charity shop and every overflowing bin are all signs you’re well on your way towards taking control of your home life.
Here some ideas to get you started:
Take stock of your CDs, DVDs, Music Cassettes, Video Cassettes and Books
It’s time to break up with some of your books. Keep only those you’ve had a long-term love affair with and say goodbye to those one-night stands. Once you’ve given away some of your books to charity, alphabetise them neatly on your bookshelf or, if you want to get creative and really frustrate a librarian, you can even colour code them. That’s right, all the red books together, all the blue books together. It’s totally impractical, but looks terrific – better for non-fiction than fiction.
If you have old home videos, transfer them onto a digital format. With the right tools, you can do this yourself – otherwise you can pay a service to do this for you. Once you’ve got them on a digital format and have backed them up, you can discard the videotapes.
Even if you have a cassette player, it’s likely your old music cassettes will get chewed if you try to play them. Subscriber services like Spotify and Pandora and music players like iTunes pretty much have everything from your youth. Make it a project to search for and download all your old tapes and mixed tapes. Once you have them on digital format, you can discard the tapes and actually enjoy listening to all those classic old songs.
If you’re no longer buying CDs, it’s likely you’re no longer listening to them either. Naturally, you want to keep the tunes, so burn them onto your computer so you can include them on your digital playlist instead. Once that’s done, donate the CDs to charity. If you still listen to them, take time to store them nicely on racks and alphabetise them.
While video shops are now few and far between and downloading movies and TV shows is becoming more commonplace, owning DVDs still seems to be relatively popular. Yours may very well be bursting out of your TV cabinet and spilling over into other areas. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to buy a dedicated bookshelf for your DVD collection and alphabetise it. That said, if you don’t watch any of your DVDs anymore and you’re purely a digital junky, simply donate them instead.
Organise your memories and give them a new life
There’s nothing wrong with sentimentality, but when it inhibits rather than adds to your wellbeing, it’s time to reconsider your options.
Photographs: Get rid of all your old crusty, yellowing photo albums, buy some funky new photo boxes and transfer your photos from one to the other. As you are doing that, scan your photos into digital format. Make it fun to look at your old memories. Pick one of your favourite photos and turn it into a canvas print or, to display a collection of memories, create a canvas collage instead. Mount these somewhere you can enjoy them everyday.
Recipe books: Here’s a great way to divest your recipe collection and invest in something significantly more useful. If you have kept magazines and cookbooks for the sake of that ‘one amazing recipe’ it’s so easy now to keep individual recipes and say goodbye to the books. Smartphone apps like SnapRecipes let you scan the photo, ingredients and instructions and keep them in digital format for you – accessible whenever you want them (and much less dusty!).
Old artwork: It could be your children’s artwork or it could be your own. Perhaps your own parents have decluttered their house and you’ve suddenly ended up with all your old childhood artwork. It’s time to get ruthless! There is a way to respect the artwork and throw them away all at the same time. Take a high resolution photograph or scan of the artwork. Rather than them taking up space in the corner of the house somewhere, you can now enjoy them in digital format anytime. You might even like to pick some favourites and give them new life as canvas art prints.
While it’s often easier to hoard, particularly if you’re the sentiment type, ask yourself ‘Will I actually use this?’ and ‘Am I going to be needing this?’
Think about which items are the most sentimental rather than deciding they’re all sentimental. For your most sentimental items, ones that you simply can’t part with, instead of keeping them in a cupboard or box, put it on display.
If it’s tucked away in a box, perhaps that means it’s actually not that important to you. If it’s truly valuable and you have a very real emotional connection to it, give it the presence it deserves in your home – on display in a glass display cabinet or shelf.
It’s time to break free from the shackles of clutter and enjoy all your home life has to offer! You’ll start feeling much, much better. Happy cleansing!