Generally speaking, human beings love our things. We love stuff – and we can’t help it! We’re collectors by nature, a trait that has only been reinforced and perpetuated by our superfluously materialistic society. But what are the negative side effects that come along with all this (literal and figurative) baggage?
Have you ever felt completely stressed out and overwhelmed when looking at your jam-packed closet or overflowing attic? We have definitely been there, and it’s not a great feeling. Whether it’s an issue of having too many things, not enough space, or a combination of both, it’s easy for our clutter to get out of control. Luckily, it’s also easy to get things back under control with a few tips and tricks.
The minimalist lifestyle has been gaining popularity in recent years as people have begin scaling back and reevaluating what they truly need in order to be happy. Examples include the popular blog The Minimalists (which also inspired an intriguing Netflix documentary) and bestsellers like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up.
So – how do you even begin tackling this monster? Start with these simple steps to help you determine what deserves a place in your space, and what stuff has overstayed its welcome.
- Step 1: Categorize your possessions into dedicated groups to create some order (for example: clothes, shoes, electronics, books, etc.)
- Step 2: Once your stuff is categorized, decide which pile you want to start with and take a look at each item one by one
- Step 3: Immediately discard anything that you know you no longer need and put it into a “trash,” “donate,” or “sell” pile
- Step 4: Analyze the remaining stuff and ask yourself if you love or need each item. If you need it, keep it. If you don’t need it, but love it, keep it. Otherwise, decide if it belongs in your garbage, neighborhood Goodwill, or next yard sale.
- Step 5: Reflect on what items made the cut and which didn’t – and use those insights for more mindful purchases in the future
Sorting through all of your things can seem like a daunting chore, but it really doesn’t have to be. And according to the experts, decluttering your space can have some seriously positive effects on virtually all aspects of your life – so if you ask us, it’s worth the time investment.
And it’s not just a bunch of fluffy “live your best life” advice. The University of California, Los Angeles has been researching the negative effects clutter has on families for years. Their dedicated Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) studied the relationship between 32 families and the thousands of objects in their homes and found some startling conclusions.
According to their findings, clutter has a strong effect on mood and overall self-esteem. Women were found to be especially stressed by the presence of clutter – in fact, according to the CEFL study, the amount of stress they experienced at home was directly proportional to the amount of clutter their family had accumulated.
By implementing a combination of MRIs and other diagnostic tools, the CEFL researchers were also able to determine that clutter actually has a negative affect on the brain’s ability to concentrate and ultimately process information. Similar to the disadvantages of multitasking, physical clutter can overload your senses, impairing your ability to think effectively and causing stress as a response.
So, aside from the glaringly obvious, what are some of the other perks of decluttering your life? Well, there are tons, according to experts. Below is a list of some of the most interesting benefits people who decluttered their space (whether it’s a home space or a work space) reported:
- Overall productivity and concentration levels skyrocketed
- Stronger ability to think creatively and solve problems
- Falling asleep quicker and easier, as well as improved quality of sleep
- Boosted mood and increased self esteem
- Increased focus on setting and achieving goals
- More money (after selling unnecessary items and/or more thoughtful spending)
- Elevated socialization and spending quality time with friends and family
- Increased appreciated for belongings and prized possessions
- More time (after having less to clean and no mess to look through)
- Overall clearer and calmer mind.
Now, while it can seem extreme, we’re saying you need to immediately break out the trash bags and throw out 80% of your things! There’s nothing wrong with holding onto the things that you truly need, or simply love. So with that, we challenge all of our fans to make more conscious purchases in the future, invest in quality-made products that will last a long time, and every once in a while, treat yourself with something that you know will bring you joy!