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You’ve probably heard just about everyone saying that they need to declutter. Or that they have too much clutter laying around the house. But what is clutter anyway? And why is clutter so bad? As someone who absolutely hates clutter, I have the answers.
If you’re new to the decluttering or minimalism lifestyle it’s important to take inventory of what it is that you want to change. Is your house too full of stuff that it’s not practical? Do you just feel overwhelmed most of the time? Have the kids outgrown clothes or toys that you haven’t gotten rid of?
Clutter VS Having Stuff
Minimalism gets a bad reputation because people think it means you’re not allowed to have things. Even minimalists have stuff! Although it varies from person to person, there are definitely reasons to have things. There’s a popular minimalism documentary on Netlfix, for example, where one of the people it features actually talks about his partner loving having certain belongings.
Just because you’re trying to rid yourself of clutter doesn’t mean you have to completely remove all the stuff, belongings, or things you love. It’s all about about keeping only the stuff that you actually want or need and getting rid of the rest.
Basically what I’m saying is that if you like something you’re allowed to keep it! That’s not clutter (even if someone else says it is).
What is Clutter?
Clutter is the stuff in your house that takes up space, creates problems, looks messy, and otherwise detracts from your well being. Clutter can mean different things to different people. For example, maximalist design might be appealing to one person but seem like clutter to another.
That means you have to define what clutter is based on how the stuff affects you.
Generally speaking, though, another word for clutter is mess. If your house is full of stuff, and that stuff isn’t organized and instead is making a mess, it’s clutter. The same goes for things that you don’t use, want, or enjoy.
Since everyone has their own tolerance for what occupies a space it’s important to keep in mind that your decluttering journey is going to be different from someone else’s.
Most Common Forms of Clutter
Anything can be clutter. All it takes is things building up before you have a pretty big mess. But, there are some things that are more likely to clutter your home than others. Most troublesome for most people is paper, mainly because it’s hard to get it organized.
Besides that, too many clothes lead to clutter, as well as knick knacks, toys, shoes, containers, and craft supplies. These are just a few things that usually get out of hand though… You could be overwhelmed with bed sheets, books, or buttons and it would be clutter!
Why Clutter is Bad
As humans we like to have stuff. Regardless of how tightly the tendrils of capitalism are wrapped around you there’s probably some human need inside you to be surrounded by things you like. For me, I love having a lot of books on the shelf. Even if I’m not going to read them!
But too much of a good thing, or worse, too many bad things will make your life worse. Not better. Clutter has a serious impact on our mental health.
Visually, clutter can be overwhelming. Our brains naturally like order and most people find a mess stressful. Too much of it can even disrupt your focus or relaxation.
Emotionally clutter also causes long term stress. The overwhelming feeling of the visual stimulation plus the stress of thinking about your stuff all the time can have a negative impact over time.
Finally, it costs you time and money. If you’re always moving things around, picking up messes, and hunting for things imagine how much time you’ve wasted over the years. Plus the money lost when things get lost or broken.
What You Can do About it
If you’re ready to get your house cleaned and organized it’s important to make a plan. From there you can figure out what kind of help you need and what needs to actually be done. Some houses are big jobs, others don’t have too much extra stuff so you can work on your own.
Once committed, it’s important to stay motivated when it comes to decluttering. Your desire to clean might ebb and flow, and that’s OK! Take it slowly and one step at a time.
Here’s some great resources to get you started:
- How Minimalism Can Help Your Mental Health
- When You’re a Minimalist and Your Partner Isn’t
- The Best Books for Minimalists to Kick Clutter
- How to Toss Sentimental Clutter
- 50+ Things to Declutter RIGHT NOW
Set Goals and Get Started
When you start decluttering it’s important to set some goals for yourself so you actually feel like you’re making progress. You might start by decluttering and organizing your bookshelves. Or you may want to focus on getting just one clutter-free room.
Where you start doesn’t matter, just complete one thing so you can enjoy the benefits. That will help motivate you to keep going!