The Slow Creep of Clutter

Messy pile of vintage objects.

A bag here, a shoebox there, that stack of magazines by your favorite chair… And then one day you realize that you’ve got a cluttered home. Unlike that spilled pitcher of juice or the piles of laundry after vacation, clutter’s appearance is insidious. It slowly creeps its way into our homes and lives.

As Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote in Psychology Today: “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.” That’s not how we should feel at home. Our homes should be a sanctuary from stress, not a cause of it!

As Dr. Carter points out in the article, even things that are neatly stacked (until they get knocked over, that is!) create ‘visual clutter’. And that visual clutter bombards our minds and senses with way too much stimulation. We need a rest from all that ‘stuff’.

A complete victory over clutter might be a bit too much to ask for in our busy lives. However, there are some tips that might help us achieve at least a truce with the clutter attacking our homes:

  • Put on your favorite upbeat music. It really does help the time pass faster.
  • Start small. Try sorting one drawer, a shelf, or the corner of the room. It might be a tiny victory, but it’s still a victory!
  • Sort each item into one of 4 piles: donate, sell, toss, or keep. When you’re done sorting for the day, empty those bins! The sooner you get the stuff out of sight, the less tempted you’ll be to keep just one more thing.
  • Touch each item as little as possible while you’re sorting. The longer you hold it, the harder it will be to let go!
  • Learn to just say no ! It’s painful to get rid of things we own – or to pass up a great bargain or the newest gadget. However, learning to say ‘no’ is a very freeing experience. Try it for yourself.
  • Get your family to practice putting things back in their place when done using them. Your home will just naturally become less cluttered as a result!
  • Initiate ‘cleaning frenzies‘. It’s amazing how much clutter can disappear in just a few minutes each day!

Every time you’re tempted to bring a non-consumable item home, remind yourself of this axiom: ‘Mess = stress‘. Instead, treat yourself to the peace and freedom that comes from an uncluttered home. Your brain will enjoy an end to that creeping clutter!