I promised I’d continue to explore my 6 Lifestyle Hacks for Better Health in more depth over the coming weeks. The previous post closely examined the first hack on the importance of having a Daily Ritual. Now we venture into the minefield of decluttering. If the thought of getting started is just too overwhelming, here we take a closer look at how you can find expert help to declutter your home AND declutter your mind.
Decluttering – a big business
When I first started to research this topic, I honestly had no idea decluttering was such a hot subject. In fact, there are numerous organisations able to deal with the matter on your behalf.
One such organisation is APDO – Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.
Or you can call upon the Declutter Darling – aka Rachel Burditt – whose Lovespace Blog can walk you through the life of a Professional Declutterer. Services such as wardrobe organising, removals box unpacking, downsizing assistance, loft & garage clearing, kids’ toys & clothes tidying, & home staging (when getting ready to sell your house) are all on offer. You can even get virtual decluttering help for £75!
I’ve always been a firm believer in the maxim “a tidy space leads to a tidy mind” but had seriously failed to comprehend the big business it has now become.
So, let’s not procrastinate over our stuff any more and discover the experts’ ideas to tackle this often overwhelming feat.
Does mess lead to stress?
Kate Ibbotson definitely thinks so. In fact, she even founded her company, A Tidy Mind, to help others improve their wellbeing by decluttering their homes and, ultimately, their minds.
Her blog post offers a few of the common pitfalls which can mess up your home, as well as your head:
- bulky furniture – if it’s too big for your space, consider replacing or storing it
- dusty ornaments – consider quality over quantity
- too many clothes – lose the clothes that don’t make you feel good about yourself – donate or recycle
- poor lighting – this could be hugely impacting your mental health
- too much stuff – let go of the things that don’t add value to your life
Dave Asprey, founder & chair of Bulletproof (Diet & Coffee, plus significant other wellness products), offers tips to declutter both your home & your mind in his blog. He also weighs up the pros & cons of too much stuff:
- The benefits of decluttering go way beyond making your home look like a Pinterest board. Studies link organized homes to less stressed, happier and healthier people.
- Clutter in the workspace also makes it more difficult to focus on a task without feeling distracted.
- Clutter is actually a pile of decisions that haven’t been made. If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it.
- Hiding clutter is not the same as tackling it. Instead of packing away unused objects, donate them.
- While you’re at it, declutter your calendar too. Trying to do too much can feel just as draining as trying to have too many things.
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”
One of the first, & biggest, names to come to my attention is the neat, & petite, Marie Kondo. Acclaimed Japanese author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie’s signature decluttering process, The KonMari Method (TM), is about choosing what to keep – not what to get rid of – and celebrating objects that spark joy. Her tidying and organisation tools help you through the tidying process, and ensure each of your cherished objects has a home.
You only have to watch Marie in action to appreciate this pint-sized tidying queen is truly authentic in what she does. Teaching you not just to sling your selected clothing items back onto hangers once you’ve decided to keep them, but to lovingly smooth and triple fold them, in such a way that they stand up neatly, take up little space in your wardrobe and remain as cherished as the day you brought them home.
According to Charlotte from wellness brand, DOSE, Minimalism, Decluttering & The KonMari Method have been key Pinterest search terms as the number of people with the declutter bug has risen significantly over the past couple of years. She states that there are many positive benefits to having a good tidy up. Simply decluttering your home or your desk will bring back a greater sense of control & reduce stress in your life. Leaving you not only with more time for greater productivity, but most of all, for enjoying the things that inspire & bring you most joy.
Decluttering should follow a process
Whist Marie Kondo’s decluttering methods can work for some – emptying all your clutter into the middle of the room & taking it from there is not going to work for others. Laura from Thrive Global, whose mission is to help people find their greatest potential, talks to declutter experts Karen Shinn (Downsizing Diva) & Lis McKinley (Let’s Make Room). These experts are of the opinion that decluttering, if it is to work effectively, should be a process, with 9 specific steps to follow.
- Know your organising goal – look at what you want to achieve (for your home or office) & decide whether the object (you’re still hanging on to) will serve that goal?
- Start small – even if it’s just one section of your wardrobe – you will quickly see results, which is motivational
- Take stock of everything you own – for example, do you know how many pairs of jeans you possess? Do you still need them all? Sort out all the pairs of jeans you have & just keep the best
- “Edit” your stuff – do you need it, want it or use it? (Sounds better than decluttering, right?)
- Fight the paper monster – paper is only as important as the info on it – only keep it if you cannot find the info online, otherwise recycle it
- Assign a home for every item you’re keeping – storing “like” items together will make it easier to find them when you need them again
- Keep Photos of Things, not the things themselves – many people think that possessions are a reflection of themselves & that letting those things go will make them forget that part of them. A photo will help to keep the memory alive when the item is no longer in your possession
- Don’t worry about where it’s going – just decide if you want to keep it
- Do worry about where it’s going – if it doesn’t bring you joy, spread the joy & give it to someone else, such as your favourite charity
Offering style & wellbeing advice plus inspirational content specifically for men, Mr Porter article, written by Elizabeth Inglese, suggests the recent COVID19 lockdown may have thrown people into a quandary over the necessity to keep their homes clean & tidy, yet at the same time, it being the cause of the mess piling up in the first place.
Her article echos much of the above & offers 7 ideas to declutter the home & mind at the same time:
- starting with the room that matters most
- donating what is no longer needed
- making a dedicated space for everything you do keep
- keeping horizontal spaces clear of clutter
- compiling a to-do list instead of a pile of papers
- following the 80/20 rule (keep your home no more than 80 per cent full, reserving 20 per cent for breathing room) and
- creating a clean routine
By now you should be seeing a pattern emerge between the experts advice.
Yoga & Aparigraha
Being a yoga teacher, I cannot finish without giving a mention to some key yoga teachings in respect of decluttering. In previous posts you may remember my mention of the Yamas – the Yogis’ moral principles – in particular here we reference aparigraha, the last of the 5 Yamas, which translates from Sanskrit as non-greed or non-attachment.
Much of our yoga practice is centred around letting go – whether it be mental or physical – we learn not to become attached to any outcome associated with our thoughts, words or actions. I like to think of aparigraha in terms of non-hoarding and by applying this principle in respect of our home & physical possessions, we also free our minds of any surfeit clutter.
So, to conclude, I’m hoping the above has given you a snapshot of the many ways to declutter both home & mind & that, by taking small steps (to avoid overwhelm), we can choose the best way to impact on & improve our personal wellbeing.
In our next post, we’ll be taking a closer look at our 3rd Healthy Lifestyle Hack – Clean Eating – coming to you in a couple of weeks.
So, look forward to seeing you next time 🙂