In recent years, clutter has grown to become an international problem. By 2021, India has up to 20 professional organisers, and housekeeping services like the Chennai-based Service Square has seen an uptake in requests for decluttering.
According to India’s first certified KonMari consultant, Gayatri Gandhi, the demand stems from the discovery of how decluttering brings peace. Many homeowners refuse to let go of items for various reasons, not realising how the clutter has been a source of stress that has been impacting their mental health. Here are some ways below:
Clutter is an added expense
A few purchases here and there won’t hurt, but they tend to build up and this can create financial stress. Many may see decluttering as a waste of money, but the sunk-cost fallacy would explain how keeping items of little worth only extends our losses. Besides, the nature of clutter means that they already were a variable expense, and not a necessity.
Clutter overwhelms your senses
The mental load of juggling through our personal belongings gets taxing, especially when we are pressed for time looking for car keys or attempting to make the home presentable for guests.
This is because clutter competes for attention. It can bombard our minds with excessive stimuli, with assistant psychology professor Darby Saxbe’s study on social psychology measuring an increased level of cortisol in the bodies of those who perceived themselves as having a cluttered home. Our minds are working overtime attempting to process the information.
Clutter is a cycle of stress
Dr. Saxbe suggests that there has long been a standard on how a middle-class home should look — hence women, who were historically tasked with managing the home, experienced a greater level of stress with a disorderly house.
However, materialism is also a growing problem worldwide and is linked to consumerist behaviour. Verywell Mind further analyzes this culture and reveals how this attitude stems from increasing societal pressure and competition.
This then translates into hoarding because one starts to make up for quality with quantity, and this leads to a mountain of items that actually hold little to no worth. These grow heavier in the wallet and take up space in your home, plunging you into a cycle of never-ending stress.
What can be done?
It may sound simple — tidy up! However, tidying up can be tricky due to the mental hurdles that caused the clutter to build up in the first place.
It is important to take the journey step-by-step. Dana K. White’s book on decluttering outlines how it is best to first decide whether to keep something or not, and to try to keep emotions out of the equation. If you’re keeping the item, place it where you believe you would look at first for it. If you can’t think of where you’d look for it, return to asking yourself whether you really needed the item. Would it occur to you that you already had it, at all?
Minimising the usage of space can be done using the ‘one in, one out’ principle when sorting through items, as well as her tried-and-tested method, the container concept. Here, you make things fit into the space you have — which can mean closing the lid of storage boxes.
Of course, the process isn’t linear and it is easy to fall back into old habits of clutter. However, we’ve previously discussed in our post on how to Complete Tasks to not be hard on yourself. Start again by evaluating your tendencies and capacities, and understand how to reach the end goal of a decluttered home.
It takes willpower to declutter but the results will be worth it. By starting small, but starting today, we can say goodbye to clutter and welcome a lighter household and mentality.
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