Less mess, less stress.

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Less mess, less stress.



25 July 2016

Can’t find your car keys, your kid’s school hat or your tax documents? It may be time to get organised and eliminate all that wasted time and effort spent searching, but more importantly you can remove unnecessary stress from your life.

Effects of clutter

An untidy, disorganised home or office can not only be a symptom of stress but also a source of stress. Clutter can distract you, invite chaos into your life and seem an insurmountable task. Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter explains why mess leads to so much stress. Just some of the reasons include:

  • Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli

  • It distracts our attention away from what our focus should be

  • Clutter makes it more difficult to relax

  • Clutter signals our brains that our work is never done

  • It creates feeling of guilt and embarrassment

However Dr Bourg Carter says that fortunately, unlike other more common sources of stress such as our jobs and relationships, clutter is one of the easiest stressors to fix.

How to declutter

Set some time aside to declutter, maybe 20 minutes a day or a whole weekend depending on how you like to work. Take it one step at a time - drawer by drawer, wardrobes, rooms, etc. Sort your belongings into 3 piles – donate, rubbish, keep.

Punam Shah has nine tips to declutter your home. Some of her top tips include:

  • Be merciless – if you haven’t used it in the last year, get rid of it.

  • Create a maybe box – if you’re unsure about throwing something out, put in a box, label it with the date and store it. After six months if you haven’t pulled the box out, throw everything away.

  • Toss all papers except important ones – get rid of old magazine, letters, receipts, work documents and bills more than a year old. Obviously keep important documents and tax related documents.

Make your way around to every part of your house. Don’t forget to clear your fridge door – throw out extra magnets and file restaurant menus.

One area we tend to hang on to things too long is in the wardrobe. One common tip to help cull the clothes is to hang all clothes with hangers in reverse direction and after you wear an item return it facing the correct direction. After six months you will be able to clearly see what you haven’t worn and therefore what you can get rid of.

If you need a little push to get going, try out the De-clutter-a-thon 10 day email challenge. You will get an email daily that assigns a certain part of your house to sort out for that day.

Declutter at work

It is also important to keep your space at work clutter free. Start with tidying your desk and drawers and then move on to your computer by getting rid of old files, programs and icons on your desktop and tidying up your emails.

Maintaining the calm

Once you’ve decluttered, it’s important to stay on top of it otherwise clutter will creep back into your life. Set up a system and make it a habit and think about purchases carefully. In our society we often believe that more possessions bring more happiness. The simple truth is that owning less is easier than organising more.

Happiness is a place between too little and too much – Finnish proverb

What’s your top decluttering tip?

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