Psychologist Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter suggests that a messy home can leave us feeling anxious, helpless and overwhelmed. It can cause our senses to work overtime on information that isn’t necessarily important, distract us from where our focus should be and inhibit creativity and productivity.
Luckily, it’s one of the easiest sources of anxiety to fix. If you’re looking to de-clutter your living space this spring, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Make your bed
Gretchin Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, suggests that for most people, ‘outer order contributes to inner calm’. Her number one tip? Make your bed. This simple act can set the tone for the rest of the day.
“Because making my bed is one of the first things I do in the morning, I start the day feeling efficient, productive, and disciplined,” Rubin writes.
2. Follow the ‘one-minute rule’
This is a common productivity tip and it works well for the home. Don’t delay any chore that takes less than one minute to complete. Whether it’s taking out the trash or hanging up your wet towel, the accumulation of these one-minute tasks will leave you feeling less overwhelmed and more in control of your environment.
3. Do an ‘evening tidy up’
Similar to the one-minute rule, taking five minutes to tidy the house before you go to bed can help prepare for the next day and act as a calming activity before going to sleep. Don’t get too ambitious and start scrubbing the ceiling—simply put everything back in its place.
Dr. Carter suggests that clutter doesn’t only apply to our physical environment. Mental clutter can also become stressful. One of the easiest ways to combat this is to focus on one activity at a time, without distractions such as mobile phones, emails and other electronic gadgets.
“You'll be amazed at how much more you'll accomplish when you focus on a project without allowing anything else to get in the way,” Dr. Carter writes.
5. Don’t “treat” yourself
Gretchin Rubin recommends not letting small tasks build up because you feel as though ‘you deserve a break’. When you’re overwhelmed or not motivated to tidy up, simply break down your chores into small tasks and don’t procrastinate. Although you may not enjoy the process, you’ll get a boost of happiness once you see what you’ve achieved.
It may seem trivial to worry about how much ‘stuff’ you have lying around your house, but many experts agree that it is more important than we often realize.
“Our environment is a physical manifestation of how we feel,” says Darcy Smith, PhD and a New York City psychotherapist. “Clutter creates chaos in our brain, which undermines our ability to function. With less distraction, our brains function better, our anxiety decreases, our self-esteem increases and we feel more competent. We also are more likely to invite others over and be social.”
What do you think? Do you have any other tips to stop clutter from taking over your home?