The trend toward cleanliness is here to stay. In an era of overconsumption and growing concern about climate change, an increasing number of people are cutting down on clutter as part of a broader movement toward less wasteful living and a more sustainable lifestyle. Of course, the environment is not the only thing driving our need for tidy spaces and minimal living. With more research showing the negative impact of clutter on our mental well-being , many of us are looking for easy ways to reduce “stuff” to reduce stress levels in an increasingly anxious time.
Whether you’re motivated by a desire to be more sustainable or you’re trying to manage your stress, you may be wondering how to order your life without feeling completely overwhelmed in the process. Here’s a simple guide on how to address the overabundance of possessions in every part of your life and move more toward zen.
Focus on an area that feels attainable.
Be realistic about your organizational and housekeeping goals. Unless you have superpowers, there is simply no way you will finish cleaning your house or apartment in one day. Start simple by focusing on a single area of your home, like a junk drawer, for example, and work your way up to the big stuff.
Sort your items into five boxes: keep, donate, maybe, recycle and discard.
These categories may seem simple enough, but we’ll quickly break them down anyway:
- Keep: This includes things you want to keep or relocate to another room.
- Donate: if you have items in perfect condition that you no longer want to keep, don’t throw them away, donate them and give them a second life!
- Maybe: this box includes items that you have not yet decided whether you want to keep or not. Instead of putting these items back where you’ll forget them, put them in a box located in a high-traffic room until you’ve made up your mind.
- Recycle: The recycling box includes regular recycling and items that need to be recycled in a specific way, such as batteries, unwanted electronics, and prescription eyeglasses.
- Trash: If the item in question is damaged beyond repair and cannot be donated, recycled or upcycled, throw it in the trash.
Exchange single-use items for reusable versions.
Single-use items, such as plastic bags, paper towels and beauty products, not only leave a trail of waste in their wake, but also contribute to a cluttered home. Think about it: how much space do your plastic bags take up under the kitchen sink? If you’re not using them, make sure you don’t throw them away-most grocery stores offer recycling for clean plastic bags!
To reduce clutter, look for reusable versions of items you use frequently. For example, if you use disposable cotton rounds in your beauty routine, consider swapping them for reusable cotton rounds made from bamboo. Simple swaps like these not only reduce the amount of clutter in your home, but they can also save you money in the long run.
Adopt a capsule closet.
Let’s face it: no one likes to sort through their closet. You may enjoy the feeling of victory that comes from ridding your closet of unwanted clothes, but it can be time-consuming and downright exhausting. Needless to say, you want to keep your closet as organized as possible so you don’t have to sort through it again for years to come.
Enter: the capsule closet idea. A pared-down closet made up of versatile pieces, a capsule closet is guaranteed to keep your closet stylish and tidy. Start your own by reducing your closet to 37 items or less and wearing only those items until next season.
Raise your hand if you have piles of bills, junk mail and other unwanted paper items on your counter. If you raised your hand, try to find ways to go paperless. First, see if you can sign up to receive electronic statements from your bank and cable company. To cut down on paper junk mail from companies, log in to your account and ask them to stop sending you promotions. You might also consider using PaperKarma , which is an app that helps you opt out of receiving junk mail: it does all the work for you.
Turn your home into a relaxing haven.
Once you’ve tidied up different rooms in your home, you can add a few touches to make them feel more relaxing. Give your bedroom a fresh look by introducing some greenery. Add a DIY perforated board to your entryway so you can easily hang bags, pet leashes and other accessories. Give your bathroom a smart makeover by updating it to sustainable bathrooms and adding some eye-catching art. Small but significant adjustments to your home can make you feel happier and less stressed.
Invest in organizational storage for your workspace.
Buying organizational storage for your workspace may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it can go a long way toward making you feel less stressed and more productive. Your organizational system doesn’t need to be complicated either. A simple pencil holder, vertical wall shelves, a perforated board, and colorful storage boxes can make your space look tidy while fueling your motivation to knock off your to-do list.
Don’t forget to tidy up your mental space.
There’s no doubt that physical clutter is a burden on our mental health. But what about the less tangible clutter that involves our to-do list, work deadlines, errands and other responsibilities? If you’re constantly stressed about all the things you have to do, it’s time to take a step back and realize that it’s okay to let someone else take the reins. Take care of yourself first and you’ll be in a better position to take care of others when they need your help. Take some time to reset with meditation or do something you enjoy, such as knitting or reading.
Turn your cleaning efforts into a ritual
Tidying up your home and life is not an overnight process, so try to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to do it quickly. Instead, make the process more enjoyable by turning it into “me time.” Pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine, put on some relaxing music, and feel proud of yourself for taking the first step toward a happier, clutter-free life.