How to declutter your home and mind to maintain a place of peace in 2023
Home is where the heart is, but clutter can clog the arteries of daily living. Doctors have discovered anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, and loss of productivity are just a few side effects of living in a disheveled environment. Sadly, today’s culture lends itself to collecting too much. “We live in a society that is about over-consumption,” reveals Logan Alderman with Orderly SC. “With our fingertips on Amazon and Target, with free delivery and free returns immediately at hand, this is a big issue with people. It’s a mix of folks amassing too much and then not doing a great job of getting rid of things they haven’t touched in years.”
Alderman is just one of the dozens of professional organizers booked out for weeks at a time as the industry surges. When the pandemic left the entire nation stuck at home, unsuspecting consciences were punctured with a need for organization and decluttering. Today, the desire to sort, sell, discard, or donate stuff continues to grow. “People who are disorganized, and have a lot of clutter in their home, are often frantic for finding things,” explains Judy Penders with Ducks in a Row Home Organizing. “A neat and tidy room brings a sense of calm, gives a good sense of space, of what you have and what you need. It even lends itself to better sleep. It’s peace of mind.”
A generational shift is also taking place as Gen Z and Millennials set up their own homes. “Older generations had so much history,” explains Penders. “Everything was paper, scrapbooks, notebooks. People handing down china and furniture that was so important. In today’s modern world, many of these things aren’t valued as much. People want freedom and to spend their time doing other things.”
Kayla Chase, with Greenville Organizer, takes it one step further when it comes to inherited items and gifts. “The intention of giving something to someone is to show you’re thinking of them,” she says. “It’s not to make you feel guilty for giving the item away when it’s no longer useful in your life. If your only attachment to something is guilt? Get rid of it.” Making order of disorder is part physical, part mental, and all time. To clear the slate—and the kitchen, den, closets, and bonus room—we secured these tips from the experts.
Ready, Set, Declutter!
- Overwhelmed? Start small with just a drawer. Make sure it’s a drawer that is used often, like a junk drawer. Tiny steps will grow into large accomplishments. Try to spend 15 minutes a day sorting out small spaces.
- Energized? Ready to tackle a bigger project? Start with an open space the family and guests use frequently. The kitchen is a great place to start. You’ll be surprised when one room flows into the next, and then the next, and then the next.
- Make piles of items to keep, discard, donate, give away, or sell. The sell pile can’t hold more than five items; otherwise, it tends to become an ever-growing pile of cast-offs that never leave the house.
- For big projects, work in two-hour blocks of time. You’ll make a mess categorizing items before finding them permanent homes. Create a clean space to sit and de-stress on breaks. Realize that big projects may take longer than a day or even a weekend.
Tactics for Tackling Too Much Stuff
- Get in a routine. Follow the adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
- One in, one out. If you purchase a new pair of shoes, dispose of a pair you already have.
- Roll your clothes. This takes up less space and allows you to see what you have.
Children & Teens: Establish good habits during the early years. Just like a new teacher at the start of the school year, give the family an annual show-and-tell of home processes and where things go.
Adult Children: If they don’t live at home, neither should their belongings. Offer to keep one bin of precious keepsakes and that’s it.
Downsizing Parents: Listen to them attentively and recognize the process can be overwhelming. They are giving up their belongings, home, and history. Move slowly, let them see you’re handling items with care, and keep reminding them of how much space they will have at their new place. (FYI: It’s less stressful to declutter prior to the move than to relocate to a smaller space and haul hundreds of boxes.)
Products to Help Stay Organized
Tools: Label makers, clip labels, vinyl and mesh pouches, baskets of all sizes, museum gel (to hold items in place on shelves and walls)
Pantry & Kitchen Items: Lazy Susans, clear bins that can hold small items while providing visibility
Drawer Organization: Expandable dividers, interlocking sets of multi-size containers