Does less stuff really equal more happiness?
Decluttering was on my list of New Year’s resolutions two years ago. Then again last year. Each year I only managed to go through a few shelves and drawers before giving up. It took forever, I felt like I was hardly making any progress and when I thought of how much work I still had to do, I wanted to run.
This year I haven’t picked any resolutions, but the desire to have a more spacious, clutter-free home is still there. So I’ve been trying out new strategies to overcome decluttering paralysis and they’re working!
I can recommend a couple of books on decluttering and organising your home that will inspire you: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and Soulspace by Xorin Balbes.
I know what you’re thinking now. “But decluttering frustrates me, why would I want to read books about it?” At least, that’s exactly what I thought when I came across these books. Then a friend mentioned that her mum had read just 80 pages of Marie Kondo’s book and that was all she needed to find motivation and get her home oranised in no time. I thought I could probably cope with 80 pages, so I gave it a go.
At first, I was amused. The author was obsessed with tidying and I wanted to have nothing to do with it. Her methods were never going to work for me, we were too different. Then, when I was one third through the book, something shifted and I couldn’t wait to get stated!
Decluttering is more fun when you’re not doing it alone. If you have children, ask them to help and then you won’t have to spend your child-free time tidying up. Having kids around can make it difficult to discard any clothes (my kids seem to love the way I look in pretty much anything), but it gives you a boost of confidence!
If you don’t have kids, team up with a friend and make time for some decluttering parties. When you’re having a great time and interesting conversations, you’ll get everything done quickly and effortlessly.
Keep up the momentum
If your place is anything like mine, you won’t be able to complete your decluttering mission in one go. Don’t leave too much time between your decluttering sessions or the area you tidied up last time will get messy again and you’ll get discouraged. Instead, do as much as you can every day or at least a few times a week. You’ll be able to see that you’re making progress and you’ll find motivation to keep on going.
Image by JamesDeMers via pixabay.com
Spring is almost sprung. Can you smell the flowers? Can you hear the birds tweeting? Can you think of any other spring cliches to put into this question? I’m sure there’s many more about the start of spring being a magical time of the year where lambs are born and you get to frolic in the sunshine.
In reality, our springtime is more about what we’ll be wearing to the races, getting our bikini bodies back on track and cleaning out all the stuff that has consumed our house over the last year.
When spring starts, it’s as if we are reborn. It’s almost the same feeling you get during a new year, where anything is possible and you feel motivated to get stuff done. After all, have you not thought to yourself during this month: “I’ll just wait until spring to start my diet/start exercising/start hand washing my delicates, a few more weeks won’t hurt.”
One cliche that we should be living by is spring cleaning and getting rid of the things in our house just as the weather warms. Spring cleaning isn’t just great for the way your house looks, it’s good for your health.
While cleaning seems like the biggest chore, decluttering your house is fantastic for your mental health. Clutter is mentally exhausting and can cloud our brains. When the space that we inhabit is not clearly presented, it can cause stress, which we all know is less than ideal. Winter is the time where we collect things, making a nest for ourselves inside our own homes. It could be magazines that have been bought for warm, weekend reading or it could be the clothes that are hanging in front of the heater to dry. Spring cleaning means getting back into our lives with a clear mind, thus clearing the clutter.
Having a good spring clean also increases our productivity. Organising your home is great for your mindset, but also for your wallet as there is no need to replace things that seem to have been lost. Cleaning out clothing is also great for local charities who can benefit from the clothes you will no longer wear by giving them to someone in need.
Mental health benefits: tick. Money benefits: tick. Let’s get onto getting that summer body back right? Having a great spring clean of the house gets you moving! Cleaning is great exercise, so put some tunes on, work your way around the house and find that sports bra that’s been hiding all winter to get back into your healthy routines.
On top of all of this, spring cleaning gives you that sense of satisfaction when you’re done. Sure, it might be a huge and exhausting job, but just imagine how great you’ll feel once you’re finished and you can sit on your clean floor, watch TV and eat some pizza knowing that you’ve done something great. You’ll be as happy as a 1950’s housewife advertorial.
Most of us have too much going on in our lives. Demands on our time come from all directions and we keep on adding new things to do, while trying to hold on to everything else that’s already there. Sooner or later it becomes impossible. Are you wondering how you could simplify your life to make space for more of what you want? Here are some quick ways to get started.
1. Say no more often
Is “yes” your automatic answer to everything? Become more selective and consider each request that comes your way before you answer. Do you really want to do it? If yes, go for it. Otherwise, say “no”.
2. Ask for help
You won’t get a medal for doing everything on your own and who wants a medal anyway? It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help and you won’t bother people (if you do, it’s up to them to say “no”). Even if you outsource one little thing a day, it’ll add up and you’ll feel the difference.
3. Declutter your home and your work space
Start with the areas where you spend most of your time – your desk, the living room, the kitchen. Once your space looks more organised, you will feel more organised and won’t be spending time looking for things.
4. Limit your media use
There’s no need to miss out on your favourite TV show, but if you find yourself mindlessly staring at a screen only because it’s there, turn it off. All of a sudden you have ample free time to meditate, go for a walk or get creative.
5. Buy less
Shopping therapy is a popular way to combat stress, but is it the most effective one? Very unlikely. When you buy less you spend less money, less time and have less stuff to make space for.
6. Be selective who you spend time with
Choose to hang out with people you love and avoid those who complain and drain your energy. Don’t agree to catch up just because you always do or because you feel obligated. You can choose who you give your time to and still have friends.
7. Slow down
It might be counterintuitive, but when you get enough sleep, make time for yourself and meditate, you will notice that everything else in your life happens with less effort.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you could do to simplify your life, don’t be. Pick just one thing and do it today.
Image via Pixabay
When you have young children, toys somehow make it in your home whether you like it or not. You get gifts from well-meaning grandparents, friends, festivals and events you visit, birthday parties and before you know it, your whole home turns into one big playroom. Too many toys can clutter your home and make your children more distracted. So what can you do to get the toy invasion under control?
Watch your children play
You may notice that your children always pick up the same toys and never look at others. It will give you clues about what your children are interested in, what skills they’re currently developing and how you can support them. You will also know what toys you can safely discard and no one will even notice.
Turn decluttering into a game
I believe it’s best to give kids responsibility for their own possessions and not just throw toys out behind their backs, but if you simply ask them if they need one toy or another, the answer will always be ‘yes’. Decluttering flows a lot easier if you make it fun. You can pretend that your children have a shop and they’re selling you the toys they no longer need. Or they may need to clear their toy space for a fun concert.
It’s very easy to give in and buy a cheap toy at the checkout only to stop your children’s whining, but the kids will lose their interest in the toy as soon as you’ve left the shop and it will probably break before you even get home. Instead, choose only good quality toys that will last for a while and that engage your children’s imagination, so that they keep on playing with them.
Join a toy library
Toy libraries are a great way to give your children an opportunity to play with different toys without having to store them all at home. It also give you a chance to see if a toy is likely to hold their interest before you go out and buy it.
It’s only natural that we want to give our kids everything, but they don’t need too many toys to be happy. As you decrease the number of toys your children won’t even notice and you will love a tidier home.
Image via Pixabay
Did Santa bring you something you’re not that keen about? Don’t let your unwanted gifts pile up and create clutter in your home. Here are some ideas on what to do with them.
Refund or exchange
Most likely you will need a receipt to do that, but some shops will exchange your unopened gifts without a proof of purchase. Depending on your relationship with the giver, you may even be able to ask them for the receipt. This is especially easy to do when the gift is clothing or shoes. You can always say that the item is not a perfect fit and they didn’t have your size when you went to exchange it, so you grabbed something else.
They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try putting your gift on eBay and see what kind of interest it gets. Keep in mind that everyone sells their unwanted presents just after Christmas, so unless it’s something that will go out of fashion, it pays to wait for a couple months, when you’ll have less competition.
Donate to charity
Take your unwanted gifts to your local charity shop and your gift will serve a good cause instead of gathering dust in your home. Most charity shops will happily take clothes, shoes, books, CDs. Only some will accept electrical goods, so check with them before you drop off the items.
Give to someone else
If it’s a downright horrible gift that you’d be embarrassed to offer to anyone else, then don’t do it. It can also be that it’s not a great gift for you, but it would be perfect for someone else you know. Just make sure you remember who gave it to you in the first place, so that it doesn’t make its way back to them.
With a bit of imagination most items can be turned into something else. Your unwanted gifts can provide hours of rainy day entertainment for crafty kids. You can use clothes to make party costumes, book pages to include in your scrapbooking projects and a mug to turn into a pen holder (after giving your kids free reign to re-decorate it).
Image by jill111 via pixabay.com
Clutter is one of those things that drives me absolutely mental, and I know I’m not alone. Not to say that I live in a show home. I more live in a state of bearable chaos until I snap and have the urge to make everything as pretty as possible.
But one thing I’ve learnt is that making things pretty is so much harder with clutter around. It doesn’t matter if I know I’ve just mopped and dusted and attained hospital-grade cleanliness, if it all ends up with stuff of top of it I’ll have a special type of freak-out. And having had such a freak-out recently while giving my apartment a spring cleaning-style overhaul, I thought I’d share the tips that I learnt the hard way.
One thing at a time, sweet Jesus
A quote from my Nan that would’ve saved me a whole heap of stress had I listened. When decluttering it’s tempting to get excited at the prospect of having a show home and attacking every draw, cupboard and hiding place with a furore – which is how I began. After one night at Ikea the boyfriend and I decided to get cracking and as I started stripping out the laundry, he attacked the living room. Next thing I know it’s 10.30pm on a Wednesday night, we’re both knackered and seemingly everything we own has ended up on the floor. This was a stressful situation: there was no space, we had to do acrobatics to get into the kitchen and my dreams of a perfect home were trampled beneath piles of books, DVDs, linen and everything else.
So start small – pick a room, or a cupboard. Empty it, clean it and get rid of what you don’t need, while putting the survivors back in an organised fashion. It’s amazing what a relief such small changes can bring.
Get a system
There’s a phrase to keep in mind when decluttering: ‘If it’s not useful, beautiful or extremely sentimental, don’t keep it’. This is a super handy rule of thumb when you’re staring down at a draw of old nail polish, broken trinkets and random bits of faff that so easily accumulate, I’m convinced they’re breeding.
The same goes with clearing out your wardrobe – if you haven’t worn it in a year, odds are you won’t.
Ditch the guilt
One thing that can often be an obstacle when doing a clear-up is the sense of guilt that you’re wasting money or being reckless. So rather than just filling a wheelie bin with all stuff that’s no longer useful to you, donate it someone who could really benefit from it. Places like Good Sammy’s and the Salvos take everything from books to cookware, bedding and clothes. This way, you’re giving new life to something that may have just sat neglected otherwise. Women’s shelters and charity shops often do drives to support people in need in your community, so by doing a clear-out, you could really help others.
Or if there are a few of you having a clear-up and your bestie would murder you for getting rid of that dress she’s coveted for years, grab some bubbly and have a swap night with friends – odds are you’ll find some steals, so you’ll be updating your wardrobe while cleaning it out – ultimate win-win.
Decluttering and spring cleaning (even in summer, or autumn…you get it) also has benefits far beyond leaving you with a pretty pad. Studies have shown that getting organised in your home can give you increased motivation, a clearer mind and additional energy, all while reducing the stress and anxiety that can come from clutter. So for a happy home, and head, get your gloves on.
Kate Jones blogs about writing and pop culture at Calvicle Capitalism.
Are you a clean freak? A happy hoarder? Or a spring cleaner, like Kate? Tell us in the comments!