Walk into the average American home, and you’ll find clutter. We live in a culture where we’re constantly acquiring “stuff” and remain rather reluctant to get rid of items we no longer need. As a result, our homes – and lives – end up feeling disorganized.
The Downside of Clutter
Most of us are rather unaware of just how much junk we own. Research shows there are 300,000 items in the average home and that the average home size has nearly tripled over the last 50 years. Roughly 10 percent of all Americans rent offsite storage to put the items they can’t cram into already-crowded closets, garages, and spare bedrooms. It’s so bad that only 43 percent of households with a two-car garage have room to park a single vehicle.
Clutter isn’t just annoying – it actually has an impact on how we live our lives. Here’s what clutter is doing to you:
- Zaps productivity. Clutter is a distraction. Visually, there’s always something to take your focus away from the task at hand. Practically speaking, you’ll spend valuable time looking for items that you need (rather than completing the tasks on your plate).
- Increases stress. Clutter is often a key source of stress. Whether you realize it or not, it’s mentally exhausting to account for all of these items and deal with the baggage they bring to the table.
- Unsafe and unsanitary. From a very practical point of view, excessive clutter is unsafe. It’s easy to slip or trip over something, which can cause damage to yourself or your property. It’s also unhealthy. Piles of junk create breeding grounds for germs and allergens, which may eventually impact your health.
- Clutter is expensive on a couple of different fronts. First off, you’re more likely to “lose” items when your house is filled to the brim with junk. This causes you to purchase items that you don’t really need. Secondly, it’s harder to sell a house at a fair market price when it’s cluttered. This could cost you thousands of dollars when you decide to sell.
This is just the starting point. Clutter impacts everyone in different ways and leaves a host of negative side effects in its wake. Until you wake up to the fact that clutter is holding you back, you’ll continue to struggle with fulfillment and happiness.
6 Ways You Can Declutter Your Home
Whether you’re a hoarder, or you just feel like you have too much stuff, here are some straightforward, no-nonsense ways to declutter your house and live a life of freedom:
- Stop Bringing in New Items
The first step to this process is to stop bringing new items into the home. You have to stop the flow of junk into your house to get control of the situation and come up with a logical plan of attack. This includes new items you’ve purchased, paperwork from the office, fast food bags, etc. If it isn’t necessary– like groceries, toilet paper, or dog food – it stays out.
- Is it Useful, Beautiful, or Joyful?
Author Regina Brett once said that you should, “Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.” In fact, it’s one of her 50 lessons to live by. And while it may sound like a nice quote to stick on a postcard, it’s actually a pretty sound principle for managing your house.
As you declutter your home, keep Brett’s advice in mind. With each item you encounter, ask yourself whether it’s useful, beautiful, or joyful. If it doesn’t fit into any of these categories, you should trash, donate, or sell the item.
- The 12-Month Rule
The 12-month rule is another rule of thumb you can use. It simply says that if you haven’t used something in the past year, you probably aren’t going to use it this year. And if you aren’t going to use it this year, then it’s even more likely that it won’t be used the following year (and so on and so forth).
As you go through your possessions, get rid of anything that doesn’t pass the 12-month rule. You’ll probably be shocked by how few items you actually need in your home.
- Go Room by Room
It’s hard to tackle a decluttering project without a plan. When you know exactly where to start, you’ll find it easier to execute.
One of the best strategies is to go room by room through your home. This has a way of breaking the larger project down into more digestible bits. Go through every single item in the room you’re working on and put it in one of four piles: keep, trash, donate, or sell. And for the items that you keep, there needs to be a specific place for the item.
- Take an Hour a Day
You don’t have to declutter your entire house in a day – or even a week. In order to prevent yourself from getting burned out, take one hour out of every day. That’s seven hours per week and 30 hours per month. Depending on how much clutter you have, you should be able to completely purge your home of its junk within one or two months (maximum).
- Shop With a Purpose
Once you’ve purged your house of unnecessary items and decluttered to the point that you can reclaim your sanity, it’s imperative that you don’t start reloading your closets, garage, and spare bedrooms with junk that you don’t need.
Any time you shop, it needs to be with a purpose. Before adding an item to your shopping car – physical or virtual – ask yourself this one simple question: “Do I really need it?” If you’re honest with yourself, the answer to this question is rarely yes.
Green Residential: Houston’s Real Estate Leader
At Green Residential, we take pride in helping our Houston-area clients find, sell, and manage their properties for maximum return and enjoyment. When it comes time to buy or sell your next home, give us a call. We’d be happy to walk you through the process!