Have you ever heard that a cluttered space creates a cluttered mind?
According to a Princeton study, clutter actually inhibits your ability to focus by stealing your attention, resulting in a decrease in productivity and an increase in stress.
Basically, if you want to get sh*t done, then you need to declutter your life!
Ironically, our brain doesn’t like to let go of our possessions. Have you ever experienced one (or all) of these thoughts while trying to declutter?
- “You might need this one day, so don’t get rid of it!”
- “I wore this shirt five years ago, I may wear it again for a similar occasion!”
- “I bought this candle while on vacation in Hawaii three years ago, I can’t get rid of this memory!”
- “This bag cost me a fortune when I bought it 10 years ago, so I need to keep it.”
These thoughts are your brain trying to keep it’s emotional connection with your belongings in tact. Researchers at Yale found that the parts of our brain associated with pain light up when we try to let go of our belongings, meaning that we literally find getting rid of our stuff painful.
So, it’s not your fault that decluttering is hard. We actually have to train our brain to be better at letting things go.
Tips to declutter your life
So, how do we declutter our lives when our brains resist so much? Just like developing any new skill, decluttering requires patience, practice and a few helpful tips.
1. Start small
It is particularly easy to get overwhelmed with the task of decluttering. Whether you have an overflowing closet, junk-drawer or are running out of pantry space (or, all three!), you can ease into decluttering by starting with more manageable goals. Instead of spending hours trying to declutter in one night, which will definitely lead to burnout, try focusing on one part of your home for 5-30 minutes every day. Overtime, you’ll accomplish far more than attempting to get it all done in one go.
- The Marie Kondo method
Famous minimalist, Marie Kondo, has made a living off helping people declutter their lives. She focuses on getting rid of items that lack value, which has been coined as the KonMari method. She has six criterias for five categories, which includes going through every single one of your items and tossing those that don’t spark joy. This method is a mindful approach that requires you to feel and understand the energy of each item you own.
- Get rid of 1 item everyday
If you get rid of one item everyday, you would have decluttered 365 items in one year. Toss out two items everyday and you’ll get rid of 730 items every year. This approach makes the daunting task of declutter much more manageable. Getting rid of 365 items in a day sounds grueling, but getting rid of one item everyday for a year is way more doable.
- Donate what you don’t use
If you have clothes, books and other miscellaneous items crowding your home, then donate them for a second life! You’ll not only get rid of items you don’t use, but you’ll feel much better about giving them to someone who will find use for your clutter. As a rule of thumb, donate as many items as possible to avoid excess landfill waste!
- Take before and after photos
Taking before and after photos is a great way to measure your progress! Sometimes, decluttering feels strenuous. In the midst of decluttering, our lives can feel messier than when we began, which can turn us off from the task all together. Before and after photos can show you how far you have truly come and can inspire motivation to tackle other parts of your life that may need to be cleaned up.