You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it now: less is more. A simplified, uncluttered life is an appealing concept to many but actually quite difficult for most of us to achieve. Whether we are attached to the sentimental value of a certain item of convince ourselves that we’ll likely need it one day, we often end up holding onto more than we should, and often to the point where doing so complicates our lives in ways we don’t even realize. Here is why decluttering your home can improve your life and how to do so in 3 approachable and totally do-able steps.
It’s natural – we buy, we keep and then we buy more and keep more. Why throw away items that are in perfect shape? From photos and cds to trinkets, souvenirs, furniture and clothing, a household can soon turn into a pile of stuff that is barely used but held onto for no other reason than because it’s all already there. We live in a clutter culture, but it’s time to get out.
In a recent four-year study, researchers peaked into the lives of more than 30 busy families in the Los Angeles area coming from a variety of social and economic backgrounds. The team's psychologist found a link between how families, especially mothers, talk about their home spaces and their diurnal cortisol levels. In a 9-year study completed in 2012, UCLA researchers found that clutter caused elevated stress levels and even triggered depression. The study went on to conclude that the damage of clutter goes beyond the messy appearance of a household and actually threatens human health at all levels – physical, emotional and mental.
Now that we know clutter is harmful, it’s time to learn how to move forward in a more minimalist way. Here are 3 easy ways to declutter your home.
1. Apply the 1-Year Rule
If you haven’t used an appliance, worn a piece of clothing or looked at an item in a year, toss it, donate it or give it away to someone who will use it. There are certainly exceptions to this rule. Anything with very important sentimental value – I’m talking photographs, items of clothing for very formal occasions or seasonal items that are needed for trips to the beach or camping – can stay. However, you have to be strict about this rule. Just because you like something doesn’t mean it should stay. Start with your clothing and the move on to your toiletries, make up and other items that are easy to hoard. Take one room at a time to make the task less daunting.
2. Fill One Trash Bag
Every month, give yourself the task of filling one trash bag full of things you do not need or use and throw it out or give it away to others who could use the items more often – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, after all! Make this a monthly ritual and you will soon become more aware of what you have around your household.
3. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge
This is another fun task to reducing your clutter. Identify 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate and 12 items to be returned to their proper home. This takes care of 36 items in your house in one day. Assign this task to each person in the household and make it a fun game that tracks who can achieve it faster.
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