Clutter. I love it. I hate it. Stuff beckons me, but I know it can slowly — secretly — erode my health and peace of mind. My brain, of course, doesn’t know it’s clutter when I buy it, but 90% of it surely ends up in that category.
Studies show that physical clutter competes for your attention, which inevitably decreases performance. The same thing happens with multi-tasking. Senses get overloaded, resulting in higher stress and impaired ability to think creatively.
One thing I’ve learned from my many false starts at “cleaning up my act” is to start small. Looking at a room that’s stuffed full of stuff is so overwhelming that the effort is more likely to get put off, sometimes permanently. Starting small sets you up for success. Once you see how even a small de-cluttering task improves your mood and stress level, you’ll be motivated to continue. Fingers crossed!
Starting small with a single drawer or shelf makes sense, but I propose starting in the bedroom since it is the most important room in the house. Getting a good night’s sleep is so vital to good health that I present to you the bedside table. Everyone’s choice of what they must have here is different, as you can see from these photos of my own bedroom. I’m vigilant about keeping the space in front of my face as clear as possible, and my husband never thinks about his “essentials” once he adds them to the pile. Thus, the accumulation begins, making dusting impossible and nighttime breathing questionable. (This isn’t the place to store magazines you’ve already read!) Really, what do you need at hand when you are in bed? A good book? Intimate items? Reading glasses, a flashlight and clock? Maybe a comforting memory would be nice. Everyone’s needs are different, but you get the idea.
I’ve experimented a lot and remember well the day I decided to start borrowing instead of buying books. Truthfully, they seldom moved from the shelf once they’d been read, and gathered layers of dust as proof. I claimed to love books and just wanted to have my favorites where I could look at them, but when it came down to examining why, there was no good answer. Sooo… with new eyes and three empty boxes on the floor, I asked of each book, “Will I ever read this again?” Probably not. Only sentimental favorites, ones to re-read, and those used consistently for reference went back up, like for gardening and the like. I remember the feeling of relief as I looked back and forth between the boxes destined for the library’s next book sale and the ever so tidy — non dusty — smaller book case. Ahhh. Less dust, more room in my room. Visually calming.
I’ve extended this feeling over the years to lots of corners in my home. And always try to remember that de-cluttering is not a one-time deal. Stuff just seems to propagate, and you get so used to seeing it that you just don’t notice the accumulation anymore.
Clutter has the ability to sneak up.