One of my favorite things to discuss is how amazing life is without clutter. You may not realize the toll it takes on your mind, body, and overall spirit. By decluttering your life, you see the effect being relinquished and a feeling of freedom washes over you. It truly is incredible how much your life transforms.
Jennifer Van Winkle, from Kindred Mom and Pepper Sprout Home [check out her bio at the end], is joining us today to give you an idea of how it feels to live in clutter. I hope reading about the psychology of clutter shows you how much of a burden clutter is on your life, and that you get that extra motivation to tackle it! If it does, feel free to check out my 30 Day Minimalist Declutter Challenge to help guide you through an amazing declutter!
The Psychology of Clutter
She stumbles through the door, arms loaded down with all sorts of paraphernalia generated from the day:
A mangled wad of dandelions from her doe-eyed boy because he knew how much she liked flowers;
the older kid’s school project, a structure they are super proud of made of marshmallows and toothpicks;
the books borrowed from the library;
the quick items grabbed from the grocery store on the way home;
and the mail snagged from the mailbox.
She stashes it there on the sideboard as the kids unload their backpacks onto the dining table to begin the day’s homework. She is desperate to unburden herself from the weight of the day and take a haggard breath, the first one in several hours. She glances at the pile of clutter on her beautiful sideboard, shakes her head and looks away, beaten again by the stuff that fills her home.
I’ll get around to it later.
The sideboard in the dining room was a piece of furniture that she envisioned would be filled with delicious platters of food to serve family and guests. She marveled at the available surface it would provide to harbor food for treasured guests at the many lovely gatherings she planned to hold. She imagined showing love to people by supplying various charcuterie, elaborate salads, and mouth-watering cuisine all arranged skillfully on the sideboard. She imagined hearts and stomachs full of nourishment, conversation, and connection which would feed her purpose on this planet.
Unfortunately, she never used her sideboard for keeping prepared food conveniently near the table; she found it was a convenient place to put just about anything else except for the items that were meant to be there.
Leaving clutter for later is easy. It is something that requires particular focus and mental energy–resources that feel in short supply after a long day. It is easier to choose to spend time decompressing for three or four hours watching Netflix, to avoid dealing with the clutter. The pile will still be there glowing in the proverbial darkness when the TV goes off because avoidance does not eliminate challenges, it only postpones them.
Time moves ahead, and more items are brought home. Like a traffic jam, the clutter pile continues to grow and drip off the sideboard into paper-bag-purgatory on the floor, and useful or essential items are lost and forgotten in the clutter pile. Even though it seems like it is safer to leave things in the clutter pile, most items of value aren’t safe there.
Important information is buried, resulting in missed appointments and unpaid bills.
Money is spent rebuying useful items because the originals in a pile have been forgotten.
Things that bring joy never get displayed and are arguably unimportant if they remain at the bottom of a pile of clutter.
The residence that once belonged to people is commandeered and slowly consumed by a cancerous hoard of stuff that at one time may have been useful but may no longer retain their value. The longer dealing with clutter is deferred, the more likely it is for personal hopes and dreams to be buried beneath a pile of shame and defeat.
To break the cycle and find freedom from clutter, you must edit your belongings to get rid of items that are redundant, broken, and have lost their usefulness. You must designate a place to put everything in the house when not in use so you can find it, and so it can remain useful to you. Regardless of an item’s value, it becomes clutter when it doesn’t have a place to live in your home.
Organization is not easy. It requires a significant portion of mental and emotional energy to deal with stuff, and the task of sorting through it seems more mountainous than a simple stroll in the park.
If clutter is your nemesis, I want you to know: Life is too short to spend so much of your energy thinking about it, being ashamed of it, and not knowing the location of essential things in your home. It is possible to let go of things that are no longer useful. Take action and reclaim the life you want. Give the meaningful, relevant and beautiful things a home and let go of the rest.
Jennifer Van Winkle is a fun-loving, intentional-but-casual minimalist. She is an editor of and regular contributor to the Kindred Mom Blog and Podcast. Currently, she writes from home with kids underfoot on her personal blog Pepper Sprout Home. She is passionate about squeezing the most fun out of life in the Pacific Northwest, to the soundtrack of laughter. She is always in search of truth and what it looks like to live authentically. Find Jenni on Instagram.