Some people are super organized, and I idolize those people because I am like most people who tend to build up unnecessary clutter as time goes on. Although some things go unnoticed, like boxes in the garage, other things I see all the time and I just have a hard time throwing it out. When I first bought my house I received a ton of hand-me-down items for my home. Then I got married we upgraded a bunch of our household items and, as we started to make more money, we picked out some of our own furniture.
The problem was that I felt like all of that other stuff still had value, and I had a hard time getting rid of it, so a lot of it was just stashed in our kitchen, closets or garage. Once we had kids, the amount of stuff we had was magnified and I finally started to get rid of things we didn’t need. I held on to some duplicate items for camping, but donated many bags full of stuff. As painful as some of it was to part with, it felt so good to have less items to manage in our home, and it was a lot easier to keep our house clean. I felt less anxiety about my home, and stopped trying to fill it with things to make it feel complete.
What does decluttering have to do with personal development you ask? Denise Linn, who is an international healer, writer and lecturer, mentioned at an event that the one thing you should do for yourself in a personal development journey is to go home and declutter your home. This can be overwhelming once you start, but she advised to start with even one drawer in your house. Clean it out and get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need.
Your home should be your sanctuary; a place where you can clear your mind, relax and destress. It shouldn’t create feelings of anxiety because your home is a mess and you would die if anyone decided to show up unannounced. Decluttering is different than organizing in that you aren’t finding places for everything, but getting rid of everything you don’t need and use. This can apply to your car too!
The benefits to decluttering are clear:
Improve Your Mood and Clear Your Mind: Living without clutter can improve your mood and mental health. Studies have linked a cluttered home to higher stress levels, lower self-esteem, and depression in women. I know I feel great when I come home to a clean house, and don’t get me wrong, there are many days where I just totally fail at that because the day just disappeared and between the kids and school and everything else, I just can’t. But there is definitely a noticeable change in my mood if there is that one less thing to do and things aren’t piling up around me. I can think clearly and make better decisions. The moment where I trip on one of the kids toys or, the worst: step on a lego in the dark…that is not a happy place to be.
More free time: Without having to spend so much time stashing things away and picking up the millions of small items around the house every day, I have so much more time to actually play with my kids, do homework, and just be present without the thought in the back of my mind that I need to clean up my house. Owning less makes cleanup fast and easy, and it makes me appreciate the things I do have.
Save money: Decluttering allows you to be aware of what you actually have and need. You will likely refrain from impulsively buying things that you already have other versions of, especially when it comes to toys for kids and adding to your closet.
“When you take time to thoughtfully consider everything you bring into your space or allow to remain there, you’ll start to gravitate towards more useful items, and ones you truly like having around. This makes it much easier to resist impulse purchases.” (thespruce.com)
Start with one drawer. Clean it out, organize and declutter, then move to another drawer or closet when you are ready to tackle another area. See how you feel as you go. I am still in the process of decluttering and although I have donated a lot, I have a long ways to go and a lot of things to learn to part with. There are many places to donate your used items and clothing, and now some children’s stores will buy used kid’s toys, clothing and baby items. Without so many things, you can focus on the people you care about and the experiences you want to have, without the anxiety of managing possessions.