I get an odd sense of satisfaction at the end of a day of tidying. Visible closet floors. Organized pantry shelves. Clean tabletops. They all create a feeling of tranquility. Surprisingly, it's not just a burst of temporary happiness caused by checking things off the to-do list. It's so much more.
Why Too Much Stuff Is Too Much
When you take control of your life routines and belongings, feelings of anxiety, depression, and anger dissipate, according to Audrey Sherman, Ph.D. at PsychCentral. When you declutter your home, it opens your mind to daydreaming, planning, and constructive thinking.
We tend to keep objects from different stages in our lives, and over time, they pile up around us. If you don't have any routines to declutter your home, eventually all that stuff can become overwhelming. We need to make tidying a mindset, according to a Psychology Today article based on Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
The idea of "mindful decluttering" is about organizing the physical part of your life so you can become more mindful of your habits. Tidying is a tool to learn how we want to live life: organized, or cluttered?
How to Declutter Your Home Mindfully
Both Sherman and Kondo offer several tips for taking control of the influx of physical things, clutter, and dirt in your home. It starts with making cleaning part of your everyday tasks (rather than "someday"), having a designated place for each item, and digging in mindfully.
Think about these ideas. Which ones can you add to your day? Can the kids help with some tasks? Which cleaning tasks could be outsourced?
- Do a quick refrigerator cleanup while you put away groceries.
- Keep the kitchen counter tidy by filling the dishwasher after every meal, even if it's not full and ready to wash.
- Remove all garbage from the car (coffee cups, snack wrappers, used tissues) each time you get out.
- Take a sack of garbage, recycling, or items for donation out with you each time you leave your home.
- Ask a neighborhood kid to help with lawn maintenance, such as weed pulling or garden watering, for a small fee.
Once you start to dig into overstuffed closets, storage spaces, and garages, keep these tips in mind.
- First, get rid of objects that don't have sentimental value. This will help you build momentum around decluttering.
- Sort and reduce items by category, not room. For example, bring all the books in the house into one area to be evaluated.
- Get into the mindset of choosing what you want to keep, not what you're getting rid of.
- If an item brings you joy, keep it.
Put That Extra Stuff to Good Use
When I go on a decluttering spree, I donate the unwanted items to a local resale store (Habitat for Humanity might run one near you). I make a few dollars each month from reselling, and what doesn't sell gets donated to families that have experienced a house fire or other tragedy and need things quickly to set up a temporary home.
I always tell myself that if I haven't been using the items, there might be someone out there who could really benefit from having a sweater to keep warm, book to inspire them, or hand mixer to explore a new baking hobby. Why should I keep things tucked away in a closet when they could be getting used?
In addition to donating items, consider selling them at a yard sale, upcycling them into crafty art projects, giving them to a friend or neighbor in need, donating them to a church fundraiser, or taking them to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. They always need towels and kitchen tools! As you continue on your decluttering quest, getting rid of stuff and giving it to someone who can use it always feels good in your decluttering quest.
Have you implemented cleaning tasks into your everyday routine? Tell us about them on Twitter @TomsofMaine!
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Why It’s Good
When stuff piles up in your home, it leads to stress and an unending cycle of feeling behind. Stay on top of cleaning chores by breaking them into small tasks that can be naturally woven into your day. Get everyone in the family involved and you'll be on your way to a tidy home and tidy mind.