What a great holiday weekend! Sunday we had gorgeous weather and luckily that was the day we had planned a nice cookout with friends. It was wonderful. Monday, it got up 96 degrees here in Bloomfield, New Jersey! Alan and I both had the day off so, instead of going shopping on Memorial Day, we took the opportunity to declutter and catch up on all our "postponed" decisions. Yes, even professional organizers gather clutter when we get really busy like the past couple months have been.
I know it's time to make time to clear the clutter when my TO READ tray can't fit anymore stuff to read. And, when my TO PROCESS basket can't hold more mail because it has started to become my TO READ.
So we cleared out all the junk mail from the past few months, 3 large shopping bags full of catalogs, magazines, flyers, etc. I even found a few left over from Christmas! And this is even though we recycle 2 shopping bags full every week.
We also caught up on all the TO DO's that required both of us to work on and by the end of the day, when you would think that we would be tired, we both felt amazingly refreshed, proud of ourselves and really peaceful.
It still amazes me how much weight and stress is lifted from your shoulders when you clear clutter. How much more easily you can breathe when your to do list shrinks. And to be honest, because Alan & I cleared our clutter together, it felt kinda like we had a date! Seriously, we had a chance to connect, talk, and make decisions on things that affect our life together. And we had some fun too as we found things that made us laugh, took breaks to play with the cats, etc. In the hustle of everyday life, we don't get a chance to spend a whole day together very often.
As our reward, we relaxed during the evening. As we cuddled up and enjoyed watching a couple shows we had Tivo'd on The DaVinci Code, we both marveled at how good we felt because we had accomplished so much. We could truly relax because stuff wasn't hanging over our heads anymore.
Here are 10 ways excessive clutter can affect you and your life:
- Clutter causes irritability, resentment and stress that leads to temper tantrums, outbursts, and overall disharmony (especially, if people are having to deal with "other people's clutter". You may start to feel like you aren't a good parent or aren't a good example for your kids
- Excessive clutter can cause depression, acting out, bad behavior in children due to their inability to focus caused by the clutter
- Causes conflicts often due to chronic lateness
- Can keep you from socializing because you don't have the energy or can't find clothes to go out. Keeps you from getting close to people because you don't entertain or want to have people visit you in your home
3. Loss of Self-Esteem
- Causes you to feel like you aren't capable or are missing some basic skill that everyone else "seems" to have so you feel bad about yourself - the truth is you are not alone, many people have issues dealing with clutter
- Excessive clutter often cause feelings of shame, guilt, anger and embarrassment that holds you back.
- Clutter drains your energy - and you don't realize it till it's gone. Every item in your home has an energy to it. When items go a long time unused, unloved and uncared for, they become stuck, stagnant energy that actually physically drains you of your energy.
5. Physical Health & Stress
- The stress caused by clutter is enormous. Every time you can't find something, or an argument flares up with a loved one, or you can't relax because you worry about all the things you need to do, but can't till you get the clutter cleared, your stress levels increase. Stress in turn, lowers your immunity and resistance and so you may have frequent, persistent colds.
- Clutter can make it more difficult to eat healthy, cause headaches, fatigue, sinus problems and allergies and more.
6. Mental Health
- Clutter decreases your ability to enjoy life. It causes stress, confusion, inability to focus, and often leads to depression. Sometimes clutter is initially caused by depression, but clutter also makes it nearly impossible to recover from depression. In my experience, once people start releasing their clutter, their energy comes back and the depression gets better, sometimes it goes away for good. Some people are extremely sensitive to their environments and just never realized what a difference it could make.
- Even in people who don't have ADD, clutter causes ADD like symptoms.
7. Safety & Hygiene
- In extreme clutter, people have a hard time walking without tripping or bumping into things. Often there are things hidden in the clutter that are very unsafe for children. I've seen some cases where a young child is pretty much confined to a playpen all the time because it just isn't safe to be out of the playpen.
- Inability to clean cluttered areas can lead to extreme dust and even mold and mildew that exacerbates and even causes health problems in yourself and your children
- Simply having too much stuff eats up your time like crazy. Every thing you own requires some amount of care and organization. If you have too much stuff, it's much more difficult, time consuming, and expensive to get organized.
- Having too much stuff often leads to procrastination and lateness which wastes your and other people's time and causes a whole host of other problems.
- Not being able to find things is a huge time cost of clutter. For some people it wastes several hours every day.
9. Your Future
- Holding on to clutter often grounds you in the past at the cost of your present life and your future.
- Clutter distracts you from being able to think about your goals, projects, hobbies and get things done
- Things have to have homes. Whether the home you provide for things is an extra room, a piece of furniture, or a container, you continue to pay for things long after you initially acquire them. Clutter directly costs money in the following ways:
- Late fees for bills paid late
- Credit card debt - often for unused stuff
- Duplicates purchased because you can't find things
- Some people move to larger home to accomodate the stuff
- Renting storage facilities
- Clutter affects people's careers. Studies have shown that people with cluttered desks and offices are less likely to be promoted. This of course affects how much money you can make.
I hope you aren't experiencing ALL of these things. If you are, it may be too difficult to dig out alone. Please consider getting help. If you don't have friends and family you feel comfortable getting to help you, consider hiring a professional organizer. You can find one near you by searching on NAPO's website at www.napo.net or at NSGCD's site www.nsgcd.org
To learn more about clutter, how it affects you and ways to start preparing yourself psychologically and emotionally to let go of the everday clutter that's holding you back,
Check out Part 2 of the Clearing Clutter Series : )