If you think your home is too cluttered or full of half-finished projects, now is the time to change that. According to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who think of their homes in that manner were more depressed, fatigued and had higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Meanwhile, Psychology Today also explains how clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli and causes worry over things that aren’t that important.
All of this is no big surprise to any family that’s constantly hurdling clutter to make their next activity or play date. Our lives tend to always be in overdrive without much promise to ever slow down. But you have the power to take back control by simplifying and organizing your life. Here are five ways to get started.
Let go of the past
Take a look at what’s really meaningful to you. Some things should be tossed or given away if you can’t even remember why you felt so sentimental over them in the first place. But there’s another way you can hold onto the memory while letting go of the thing. Instead, digitize your collection and put it into an online storage folder like Google Drive. Take a photo of yourself wearing that special bracelet or dress so you can remember it later.
Get a handle on the places clutter hides
It may be relatively simple to tackle the clutter in the main gathering points of your house. But what about closets and drawers? Start with a four-box method, where you sort items into four boxes including: Trash, Give Away, Keep, or Relocate. This will help immediately pair down and organize the clutter into categories.
Next, get the right tools to keep yourself organized. A high-quality closet organizing system with shelving and hangers can keep your hidden clutter in order and off the floor. Remember to look for things you already have around your own house. Old shoe boxes can tuck away shoes, socks, or accessories and stack up easily.
Create visual chore boards
Organize all the tasks in your home with an online system like Trello. The tool creates fun, visual lists where you create a list like Kids’ Chores. From there, you add cards to the list like “Clean the bathroom.” Add photos and visuals including incentives like allowance or a special trip to a favorite park when the list is complete. Your family may just think Trello is so fun, they’ll want to keep doing chores and de-cluttering.
Get an app for that
There’s an app for everything in life, including getting organized. For example, why struggle with sorting out all of those reward cards with rubber bands and envelopes? Get Keyring to store all of your rewards information and lets you scan your phone right at the store instead of fishing around for them on your actual key ring.
Meanwhile, Evernote can serve as a virtual list that travels everywhere you go. Instead of taping it to the fridge and forgetting it, just log onto Evernote and pull up the list you need. The app also uses check boxes and lets you insert your own photos and videos so you can refer back to it whenever you need it.
Slow down and breathe
None of the apps, tricks, or tools will do much good if you don’t make a commitment to slow down and breathe. Look for ways to eliminate stress, like getting up a few minutes early to savor a cup of tea or take a hot shower before the day gets busy. Say “no” more often to commitments that take you away from what’s really important in life and eliminate social distractions, as well as physical ones.
Remember at the end of the day, we’re happier when we’re spending time with loved ones, doing things we love to do. Sure, we have commitments and obligations. But how much does all that really matter? And which ones can you let go of to leave more room for things that do?