Clutter is a reality. To some degree every one of us has to deal with it day in and day out, and we always will. That is the nature of clutter. It accumulates. Keeping it at bay requires diligence and an effective strategy. That said, life happens, and often when we're busy focusing on the stresses of life, that's when clutter creeps in and threatens to overwhelm us.
Ideally, the best time to deal with clutter is when it presents itself, but that isn't always practical or even possible. There comes a time, however, when it becomes necessary to address the elephant in the room - the clutter that has taken over and is impacting the quality of life of everyone in the home.
So how do you know when decluttering has ceased to be a 'someday' and become a must? Here are some warning signs that clutter may be taking control of your life.
You Can't Find What You're Looking For
If you regularly struggle to find simple things, clutter may be the culprit. It's easy to misplace things on a cluttered surface. Necessities get swallowed up by neglected excesses. If you're feeling frustrated at the time you waste searching for stuff, it's time to schedule some decluttering.
You Spend Money on Things You Already Own
This is a common problem in cluttered homes, and it's directly related to the first problem. You can't find what you're looking for, so you buy another one, knowing that you have one somewhere. You need it, so you buy it, but it's a waste of time and money that is both frustrating and bad for the budget. Or maybe you don't realize you have a particular item because it's lost in the clutter. Whichever the case may be, if clutter is impacting your budget, it's time to schedule some decluttering.
Your Home is Not a Place Where You Can Relax
Studies show that a cluttered environment causes stress. It's difficult to relax when surrounded by clutter because your brain registers the clutter as something that requires your attention. Your home should be a place where you can feel comfortable and peaceful. If you regularly experience a stress response upon entering your home, it's time to schedule some decluttering.
You Avoid Certain Spaces in Your Home
I've seen this all too often; many people have entire rooms of their home dedicated to clutter, rooms that could be used for sleeping or crafting or relaxing or interacting as a family. The door remains closed on such spaces, and no one enters except to deposit more clutter. If clutter has claimed one or more rooms in your home, it's time to schedule some decluttering.
You're Embarrassed to Have People Over
This is the situation that saddens me most as an organizer. If your clutter is preventing you from having people in your home, it's time to schedule some decluttering.
Believe You Can Succeed
If you recognized your own situation in any of the above circumstances, you may be feeling overwhelmed and depressed. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard someone say (when speaking of their clutter), "I don't know where to start".
My answer is always the same, "Just start somewhere."
Anywhere will do. I recommend starting in the space that you use the most or that is causing you the most stress because that will have the most meaningful impact on your life. Open a drawer and start sorting, clear off a surface, dig into a pile; it doesn't matter where you begin, only that you do.
You will find that you gain momentum as you work, and with that momentum comes motivation to continue the process. With each item you discard or donate, you will feel a weight being lifted from your heart.
The decluttering process isn't easy. It takes time and effort and energy, but it will be well worth everything you invest. It's an investment in your future and your well-being. Stop letting clutter negatively impact your quality of life. Reclaim your space. You can do it!
If you struggle with any of the challenges detailed above, please share your experience in the comments section below.