5 realistic ways to downgrade

5 realistic ways to downgrade

Social media is clogged with messages that less clutter is the key to joy, happiness, and success. (No pressure!) It doesn’t help that home improvement TV shows (with their huge production teams) make it look so easy. But let’s be honest: If decluttering were a simple color-coding process for an inspired life, the never-ending quest to organize hacks would cease to exist.

Science tells us that clutter isn’t just an inconvenience: it can increase stress, causing negative feelings which can lead to anxiety and depression. It’s not surprising that women are more affected than men, as ancient gender roles are still in play and many women are responsible for keeping a clean and tidy home. It is true, however, that as we begin to pave the way towards intuitive organization, we feel calmer, lighter, and more productive.

“Our brain is less tired of constantly trying to mentally organize or classify spaces. We’re not burning energy digging through a drawer for that jersey we saw the other day to match the pants we’re wearing,” said Tatiana Bernardi, owner of Alpine Organizers. “That manageable feeling eases both internal stressors than external, giving us more time and energy to focus on other aspects of our lives.” Another plus: You won’t get hives when a guest drops by unexpectedly.

The real key to eliminating clutter is avoiding additional stress. Yes, it’s a chore, but can it be any fun? We’ve highlighted five easy ways to declutter and talk about the good kind of clutter you might want to hold on to.

Tips for decluttering your home

1. Start small

The most challenging step in decluttering is figuring out where to start. That’s why experts suggest tackling a drawer, a makeup bag, any small space that can be easily accomplished without turning the house upside down. Organizing small takes minimal time but still has a big impact, so much so that we organically start craving organizing in another space.

2. The right way to clean a single drawer

It may seem easy to tidy up a single drawer, but without a system, we often transfer a clutter to another location. Here’s how Bernardi avoids this mistake: “Take everything out of the drawer. Throw out all the trash: empty pouches, zip ties, pen caps that belong to long-lost pens, loose staples, etc. Clean out the drawer so you start with a clean canvas. Separate items into piles to keep, donate, and question marks. Don’t allow yourself to end up with a cluttered section of donated items that have just been moved from one drawer to another. Have a donation box in house and make frequent drop-offs. Avoid the urge to peek inside the box to save those sweatpants you’ve already decided to part with.

3. Set realistic goals

Tidying up your home takes time. If you’ve lived in the same place for a significant amount of time, there may be years or decades of excess belongings to sort out. Make a list of the rooms in your home and rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 asking yourself how important it is to clear out each space. Start with the room that is at the top of the list. Before you begin, have materials like trash bags, boxes, scissors, and cleaning supplies handy. Decide how much time you can spend organizing each week and add those time periods to your calendar. Whether it’s 10-minute sessions a day or an hour on the weekends, consistency will help you stay on track.

Consider asking a friend or family member to be an accountable partner. Check in with them before starting a decluttering session and again when you finish. If you work alone, having someone by your side will motivate you when you feel distracted or overwhelmed. Imagine how it will feel to gather in your home, get dressed in the morning in your organized space or how much time you will save by always knowing where your headphones are stored.

4. You have (too much) mail

With fast shipping and record high deliveries, it only takes days for cardboard boxes and shipping materials to become part of your home decor. Not the aesthetic you’re looking for? Brenda Scott, owner of Tidy up my space, suggested placing a container you love in a place that makes sense for you to manage your physical inbox. Add a recycling bin or trash next to the container to get rid of the junk mail and break down the boxes immediately. “Put a ‘No Flyers’ sticker on your mailbox. Less income equals less to deal with,” she added.

5. Know the difference between good and bad clutter

Maximalists, rejoice! Having an organized space doesn’t mean your home has to feel barren. It simply means that your things have designated places that make sense in your life. “I call it ‘happy chaos’, when disorder doesn’t affect your creativity. Indeed, it can enhance it,” said Marie-Hélène Riverain, owner of Love and order Organization.

Others call it cluttercore, a design trend and concept that filling your home with what makes you happy can provide a sense of comfort and warmth. If you enjoy coloring, shelves filled with books and plants, and displaying sentimental items, getting rid of old items will make room for adding more items to a collection and sharing those memories with others.

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