We live in a world of excess, but who can blame us? With all of our desires readily available at any given moment, it’s hard not to fall into the hoarding trap.
Whether it’s clothing, old memoirs or just useless junk (whose kitchen “junk drawer” isn't overflowing?), we become attached to the things we own. We have a hard time letting them go.
The reality is, these items just aren't making us any happier. In fact, they may be causing more stress and anxiety in our lives.
Do you remember the last time you cleaned out your dresser or sifted through your collection of toiletries?
I’m willing to bet about half of your items in these places are used as infrequently as your old high school graduation gown.
So, why are we staring at clutter every day? Do we feel empowered by the number of items we own? It’s time to toss this mentality and realize the facts: Simplicity and happiness go hand in hand.
Eliminating excess clutter and minimizing the items you own will not only promote happiness and relieve anxiety, but will also help you focus on being more creative and productive in your everyday life.
Albert Einstein may have been onto something when he said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Starting any project with a cluttered mind is a sure sign of failure; I would much rather get to work with a clear conscience (and a clean desk).
Here are some tips to help simplify your home and become an overall happier, more productive you:
Less Clothes, Less Stress
It’s hard making decisions on what to wear each day, especially if your closet is bursting with options.
Having a smaller selection of clothing will not only give you more time to sleep in the morning (who doesn’t want that?), but it will also allow you to feel less stressed when you wake up.
Imagine waking up to a minimalist closet organized to your liking. Goodbye, crazy mornings!
Having a smaller selection of clothing also allows you to get more creative with your outfit choices and ensures you will actually wear all of the items you own.
I was extremely inspired reading about the Capsule Wardrobe challenge, which Un-Fancy blogger, Caroline Joy, created.
The goal is to narrow down the clothing you own to 37 pieces, and, in turn, gain a better understanding of your personal style and wardrobe needs.
Cleaning your closet can be daunting, I know. Here are some questions I ask myself when trying to get down to the bare essentials:
1. "How often do I wear this?" If the answer is less than once every month or two months (with the exception of special occasion clothing), it’s time to get rid of it.
2. "Does this make me feel confident and beautiful?" If the answer is no, then why do you own it? Narrow down your closet to the special items you feel great wearing. When you feel great, it shows!
3. "Am I holding onto this for sentimental purposes?" If the answer is yes, you have one of two options: Take a photo of it to remind you of the memory it serves and toss it, or keep hoarding those band t-shirts from high school. The choice is yours. (I strongly recommend the former.)
Remember, you can always donate your old items to Goodwill or put them for sale in local consignment or resale shops. Having a clothing swap with your girlfriends is always a good way to revamp your closet as well.
Clean Countertops And Surfaces
I don’t know about you, but when my countertops, desk and coffee table are free of clutter, I feel like I can take on the world.
Tackle one area at a time, starting with the place you frequent the most. For me, it’s my desk. For you, it could be your kitchen island or coffee table.
Find and eliminate where the clutter is so you can start fresh and feel at ease. Can you believe even the act of cleaning can be a great stress reliever?
Think of how spotless your tabletops could be with just 15 minutes of de-cluttering. I can already feel the relaxation.
I recommend spending 15 minutes before you go to sleep tidying up. Straighten pillows on couches, take out the trash, start the dishwasher and clear the countertops.
That way, you'll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start your day without added chores staring you in the face. The elimination of clutter will leave you feeling more positive and rejuvenated.
Hoarding Sentimental Items
I think we are all guilty of this. Whether it's the birthday card Grandma gave you last year or your bowling trophy from middle school, we all have things in our closets that hold special memories.
However, these items are taking up space that could otherwise be free of clutter. Luckily, we live in a world of advanced technology, which allows us to store memories digitally.
Here are some simple ways you can hang on to your memories while still freeing up closet space:
1. Take a photo of the item.
You can make a special folder on your hard drive for "memories" to look through when you're feeling nostalgic.
This way, you can keep the memory without keeping the clutter.
2. Create a "nostalgia box."
This is especially useful for things you absolutely cannot part with. Grab a shoebox, some art supplies and your special items.
Decorate the box to your liking, and fill only this box with mementos. Everything else has to go.
3. Ask your parents.
If there's a large item you truly cannot let go but it's taking up too much space in your 300-square-foot studio apartment, ask your parents if they can store it in their garage until you have room for it (or until you realize it may not be worth keeping).
Take It One Step At A Time
We all have clutter in our homes, and it's important to remember you can be lax with your cleaning (sometimes).
Tackle small projects one at a time, and do not overwhelm yourself with simplicity and throw everything you own out the window (though, that may be cleansing in a whole new way).
The more you get rid of, the more you'll realize your mood changing and then, you'll begin to see your home in an entirely new light.
That once-overwhelming closet is now a haven of beautiful clothes you adore. Your kitchen is now a place to happily cook with friends, rather than an underused mess. The change will be instantaneous, I guarantee it.
When simplifying and narrowing down your items, remember this: Take your time, make sure to save what is extremely important to you and toss the rest.
Recycling is a great way to get rid of old items while still saving the environment and allowing others to benefit from your cleanse.
Even old furniture can make a comeback in a new home. Chances are, you won’t even miss the things you're getting rid of, and you’ll love the newfound clarity and positivity you have because of your stress and clutter-free environment.
All of this has led to my new personal mantra, "Have less. Do more. Be more."