Three Steps to Clear the Clutter

The warm, fresh air blowing outside means it’s time for spring cleaning inside! A cluttered living or working space can do more harm to your mental health than you might think. Aside from creating an overall more stressful existence, clutter can keep you from being able to focus. A study by WebMD shows that when participants look at a screen of disorganized images, their brain attention became more divided and less productive. The more organized our surroundings are, the more our brains stay focused.

One reason many people don’t deal with clutter in their homes is because they have emotional ties to objects. It can be hard to give up gifts, clothes that once fit, and expensive items. Think about why you are holding on to an object. Is it useful to you? Is it something you need or wear often? Is it something that adds to the beauty of your home or brings up good memories? If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, it’s time to donate the object to a person or cause who will find it useful, beautiful, or valued. When you’re ready to clear the clutter, or if you just want to do some spring cleaning, these three steps will help you organize your space:

  1. Start small and then work up to the major task of decluttering. For example, start with cleaning up the items that are always by your side, such as your cell phone or wallet. Get rid of smartphone apps that you don’t use, old emails and pictures, and then throw away all the crumpled up receipts and gum wrappers in your purse or wallet.
  2. Then, move on to bigger spaces, such as your car or closet. Trunks and glove boxes are notorious for hiding trash, leftover items from trips, and maybe even useful things that you have been missing—such as your car’s registration! Likewise, a closet can be a spot where we tend to shove clothes that are old, don’t fit well, or don’t work with our current style or dress code.
  3. Lastly, tackle the biggest area of clutter that makes you cringe when you think of it. This could be a garage, basement, kitchen pantry, or even just an unruly filing cabinet. Give yourself enough time for the task and be merciless—throw away or donate anything you are not using and store the things you do need in an organized manner. Use tools such as shelves, file organizers, and divided storage containers to help you put everything back in a way that appeals to the eye and also makes it easy for you to find items later.