This is the third episode in the 5 episode decluttering series this month. This episode is all about homes. I will be dropping episodes each Wednesday as usual this month but also dropping 2 bonus episodes on random days. So hit that subscribe button if you don’t want to miss an episode.
Instead of new years resolution this year we are taking action to declutter, to rid ourselves of the layers in our lives that are not working, weighing us down and keeping us from our potential.
Excessive clutter in our homes impacts our mental and physical wellbeing. Clutter can:
- Increase anxiety
- Reduce focus
- Increase oxidative stress
If you find it difficult to put your energy into decluttering your space, your relationships, your closet, it could be an issue of self-value.
Decluttering is a form of self-care. We neglect our self-care if we do not have high self-value.
In This Podcast
- Why it’s important to declutter our homes
- Benefits of decluttering our environment
- Tips to declutter
- Questions to ask yourself
Why it’s important we declutter our homes
Excessive clutter in our homes impacts our mental and our physical wellbeing. Increased clutter can lead to anxiety, reduced ability to focus, and can increase oxidative stress.
Benefits of decluttering our environment
- We gain focus. With so much noise going on in the world, we need more than ever for our homes to be a place where we can gain clarity and focus. Clutter around us can make it more difficult to process information. Decluttering our space will help us focus on whatever daily tasks that are on our individual to-do lists.
- It reduces anxiety. Leaving our areas cluttered reminds us of all of our unfinished business, which can then allow anxiety to creep in. Remove the clutter of unfinished business to reduce overwhelm. That way, you can focus on one thing at a time.
- Helps your physical well-being. Clutter contributes to higher levels of stress. Due to our brain gut connection, this stress affects our digestive system. Organizing and decluttering helps keep the micro flora in our gut balanced, increasing our antioxidant protection because nutrients are more readily absorbed.
- Reduces pathogens and toxins. Clutter in our environment allows for a buildup of pet hair, dust, dirt, and even mold. These pathogens can cause allergies, respiratory problems, inflammation, and chronic illness.
- Find more time in you day. The infamous junk drawer many of us have can often become a time suck as we are searching through it for an item. The process of decluttering itself reminds us of where everything is.
- Strengthen relationships. While Covid has us social distancing and not gathering , this will be more important when that is behind us. Decluttering will leave us less embarrassed to have friends over.
Bonus: A cluttered home can lead to exhaustion. A study reports that clutter causes mental stress, which leads to exhaustion. The same study tells us that clutter wears us down mentally, which can impair our decision-making making abilities.
Tips to declutter
First, decide what needs to be removed. One exercise is to physically walk out the door of your home. Leave your home and come back in as if you were visiting a friend’s house. When you enter your house, tour every room as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Some obvious clutter should stand out: piles of clothes, shoes on the floor, or mounds of mail and paperwork.
Look around each room to determine what clutter bothers you. Get in touch with what it feels like to be in that room. Then make a list of what you want to remove from that particular room. Do this in each and every room of your house.
Doing this all at once does not need to be an overwhelming task. Perhaps you tackle one or two rooms a day until you’ve completed all rooms. Overthinking the project as a whole can lead to procrastination.
Next, prioritize your rooms.
Start with the room that bothers you the most or the room that you spend the most time in. To make it an easy and achievable, commit to just five minutes of decluttering a day. If you tell yourself that you must complete this project right now, it will become overwhelming very quickly. When you take the pressure off of yourself for finishing it all right now, you will be able to get started. If you go behind those five minutes, even better, but the goal is to focus five minutes on decluttering that room.
Questions to ask yourself
Here are some questions to consider when you’re having a hard time parting with an item:
- Is this something I love or something I regularly use? If that item adds value to your life in one of those two ways, you can put it back where it was or find a space that is less cluttered.
- Do you have more than one of these items? If you do, give one away or sell the other one.
- If you were moving, would you pack and unpack this item? We’re not always moving, but getting in that mindset can make letting go to an item easier.
- Does this item fit in with where you are in your life right now? Just because an item was meaningful or useful in the last chapter of our life does not make it so in this chapter.
- Is there anything more useful for you to do with the space than keep the item that is currently there? We get so used to seeing our homes in one way that we don’t often stop to think if a particular space is still useful to us.
If you have to ask someone else’s opinion about whether you should keep an item or let it go, you probably don’t love it enough or use it enough to keep it.
If you spent a lot of money on something and feel guilty about getting rid of it, resell it. The money is already spent, so you can try to get all or some of it back. There are plenty of apps and even Facebook marketplace.
You might have several items accumulating that have sentimental value. Chose your top 5 items, then take a photo of what remains. Rather than tossing it, perhaps donate it or give it to someone less fortunate if it’s in good condition.
If you think you might end up needing an item and want to keep it “just in case,” ask yourself when was the last time you used it? Realistically determine the chances of needing it in the future. If it has been more than a year since you have used it, it is probably safe to let it go.
- The Secret to Decluttering Your Relationships | IT 055
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Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
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Welcome back to the Imperfect Thriving 5-part series on decluttering. I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s go over a quick recap of what we’ve accomplished so far in our series. And if you haven’t listened to episode 53 about decluttering your closet and episode 55 about de-cluttering your relationships, no worries. You can go back and do that after this episode. And when you do be sure to grab your ultimate self value worksheet.
Thinking that you deserve the life you want is the key to having it. Without self-value and thoughts that you are worthy, it will not happen. So if lacking enough self value is keeping you from clearing out the clutter and making space to breathe in the life that you want, run don’t walk and grab your worksheet. You can find it in the show notes of episode 55. The show notes are at imperfectthriving.com. Just click on the button that says, listen to the podcast. Episode 55, scroll down and you will see the show notes with the link in it.
So here’s a quick recap. We need to declutter our closets because so many studies show that what we wear affects our behavior, our mood, our attitudes, our personality, our confidence level, and how we interact with others.
Scientists have called this effect, enclothed cognition. We want to address according to the person we want to be in the life that we want to have. Clearing away the clothes that do not fit this purpose will take away some of our decision fatigue.
By removing the clothes that don’t help you feel good about yourself, you’re making it easier to dress in ways that contribute to feeling good about yourself. Which makes it more likely that you will be confident in yourself, enjoy your day and get closer to the life that you want to have. So if you missed it, go back to episode 53 after this. You will learn what questions to ask yourself so that you can clear your closet of clothes that are unhelpful to you moving, ever closer to the best version of yourself and the life that you want to have.
Now in episode 55, we decluttered our relationships. So go grab your bonus worksheet that I’ve included for you in the show notes of episode 55, “The Secret to Decluttering Your Relationships.” It’s your ultimate self value worksheet and we will talk more about it in the episode and why it is so important.
So remember the reason why we need to declutter our relationships are that negative relationships in our lives can lead to feelings of low self worth helplessness, fear, anxiety, depression, insecurity, paranoia, feeling like you are drained, being unhappy and even physically or emotionally ill.
So head back to episode 55 and learn exactly what questions to ask yourself so that you will know whether to hang on to a relationship or whether it is more beneficial to you and the life that you want to let it go. Now, before we get started with today’s episode, I want to give a special shout out to my friends living in the DC area.
Thank you so much for listening. I would really love to hear from you just reach out and DM me @imperfectthriving on Instagram. Let me know which episodes have been your favorite and what you would like to hear more about. I really do appreciate you listening and I’d love to connect.
Now on to decluttering our environment. Why is it so important that we declutter the space that we live in? Well, excessive clutter in our homes impacts our mental and our physical wellbeing. Increased clutter can lead to anxiety, reduced ability to focus, and can increase oxidative stress. So let’s get straight to the benefits of decluttering or environment.
The number one benefit is we gain focus. There is so much noise going on around us, in the world, making it increasingly difficult to focus. We need more than ever for our homes to be a place where we can gain clarity and focus, not places that make focusing an even harder task.
Clutter around us can make it more difficult to process information. Many of us are working from home. Really all of us work from home. Whether we’re CEO of our household or have an additional job. We all need serenity to do all that we do in a day. So de-cluttering our space will help us focus on whatever those daily tasks are that are on our individual lists.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like most everything is more difficult right now. I will do whatever helps make my life easier. So the first benefit of decluttering our environment is we will gain focus.
The second benefit is it reduces anxiety. It is nearly impossible for we humans to ignore unfinished tasks or unfinished business. Leaving our areas cluttered reminds us of all of our unfinished business.
I had a client recently who was really stressed out all the time, never able to relax. And through analyzing her situation, I learned that she had all of these little sticky notes stuck around the outside of her laptop of her computer, reminding her of everything that she had to do. So every time she used her computer for a task, she was reminded of all the other unfinished tasks that she had left to do.
She could never truly focus on any one task because the hovering sticky notes of all the other tasks. We removed the notes and remove that added stress, achieving clarity and more focus. It is the same with the clutter and the rooms around us. Remove the clutter of unfinished business and reduce anxiety and overwhelm so that you can focus on one thing at a time. So benefit number two is by decluttering, we reduce our anxiety.
Onto benefit number three, de-cluttering your environment can actually help your physical wellbeing. I’m not kidding. Clutter contributes to higher levels of stress. Due to our brain gut connection, this stress affects our digestive system. As stress increases, so does bloating, reflux, poor digestion, and inflammation. Organizing and decluttering helps keep the micro flora in our gut balanced, increasing our antioxidant protection because our nutrients are more readily absorbed. So there you go. Decluttering is actually beneficial to our physical health.
Let’s move on to tip number four. Decluttering also reduces pathogens and toxins in our home. Clutter in our environment allows for a buildup of pet hair, dust, dirt, and sometimes even mold. These pathogens can cause allergies, respiratory problems, inflammation, and chronic illness. So, I guess we should wrap benefit number four into benefit number three, because it all has to do with our physical health.
So let’s move on to our next benefit. Decluttering your environment will actually help you find time in your day. The more cluttered our surroundings, the more time we waste looking for what we need. When we declutter, there is now less stuff to look through. The process of decluttering itself reminds us of where everything is.
Raise your hand if you have a junk drawer in your house, or maybe two. I’m raising my hand right now. Of course my junk drawer is in the kitchen. And really it’s two drawers. It’s a shallow drawer within a deeper drawer. Every time I clean out the junk drawer, I find at least one item I thought I had lost that I needed recently and could not find.
So when we clear our clutter, we reduce the amount of time that we spend looking for the items that we need throughout our day.
So let’s move onto benefit number five. This, this benefit is not as important right now because of social distancing and COVID, but it will be important again. Decluttering can actually strengthen friendships. When our homes are a mess, we don’t invite friends over because we’re embarrassed.
Now, Rubbermaid completed a study in which they learned that 16% of moms with three kids did not let their children have their friends over because their homes were too cluttered. How we think and feel about our homes affects the way we use our homes.
So let’s get rid of the clutter and strengthen our relationships. How nice would it be for our houses to, almost always anyway, be clutter-free so that we can invite our friends over when COVID has gone anytime that we want to. So the fifth benefit is it actually helps our relationships when we declutter our homes.
Now here is a bonus benefit. A cluttered home can actually lead to exhaustion. A study out of Princeton reports that clutter causes us mental stress, which leads to exhaustion. The same study tells us that clutter wears us down mentally, which can impair our decision-making making abilities.
So now that we’re clear on what clutter can do to our lives and how we can benefit from decluttering our homes, how do we go about doing it?
First, we need to decide what needs to be removed or cleaned up. So one way you can do this is to actually physically walk out the door of your home. Leave your home and come back in as if you were visiting a friend’s house.
When you enter your house tour every room as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Now, some clutter that needs to be removed will be obvious, right? If you have piles of clothing or shoes on the floor or mounds of mail and paperwork, that’s a pretty good clue that you need to declutter those areas.
Look around each room to determine what clutter bothers you. Is it too many knickknacks on tables or dressers or bookshelves? Too many pictures on the wall, too much furniture in a room? Get in touch with what it feels like to be in that room. Then make a list of what you want to remove from that particular room. Do this in each and every room of your house.
Now you do not have to do all of this at once. If this is an overwhelming aspect for you, do one or two rooms a day until you’ve completed all your rooms. If you think too much about the entire project, it will be easy to procrastinate. So break it down room by room.
The next step is to prioritize your rooms.
Start with the room that bothers you the most or the room that you spend the most time in. Start decluttering that area first. Now let’s make it easy to get started in that area. Just commit to five minutes of decluttering a day. If you tell yourself that you must complete this project right now, it will become overwhelming very quickly.
It could send you into the fetal position, lying on a bed if your house is very cluttered and you think about attacking it all at once. Just commit to five minutes a day. When you take the pressure off of yourself for finishing it all right now, you will be able to get started.
Just promise yourself five minutes. So that you will actually take that first step. Now, once you start, of course, you can go way beyond five minutes if you feel like it. And it will feel so good, you probably will, but only commit and hold yourself to five minutes so that you don’t put it off. If you know that a room is cluttered and you just don’t know what to let go of and what to keep, or if you have a hard time in general ever letting go of anything, here’s some questions to consider and to ask yourself. When thinking about any particular object, ask yourself: is this something I love or something I regularly use?
Does this item add value to my life in one of two ways. If yes, you can put it back where it was, or if it feels cluttered there, find a new space for it. If you’re still not sure here are some other questions to help you find clarity. Do you have more than one of these items? If you do, give one away or sell the other one.
If you were moving, would you pack and unpack this item? This question really helps me. I moved three years ago after living in the same house for about 20 years. When it came time to pack and move an item or let it go, I was much more willing to let it go. Another question to ask yourself, does this item fit in with where you are in your life right now? We go through different chapters and stages in our lives. And just because an item was meaningful or useful in the last chapter does not make it so in this chapter. So if it’s not useful to you in this chapter of your life, think about letting it go. If the item is damaged or broken, is it worth the effort and money to get it fixed?
If not, let it go. Is there anything more useful for you to do with the space than keep the item that is currently there. We get so used to seeing our homes in one way that we don’t often stop to think if a particular space is still useful to us. Or if there’s another way of reconfiguring it, that would be more beneficial to what is going on in our lives right now and what we need.
So ask your question: is there anything more useful that I can do with this space other than keep this item here? Now, if you have to ask someone else’s opinion about whether you should keep an item or let it go, you probably don’t love it enough or use it enough to keep it. So just keep that in mind.
Here’s some roadblocks that may come up and try to derail you on your path of decluttering. The first one is you might be hanging onto something because you feel guilty about the amount of money spent on it. We all have those items that we splurged on, or we knew at the time we were spending a lot of money on and we thought then that we would love it forever and we would keep it forever.
But things change, right? The same things are not always useful to us, as I said, in the next chapter. And maybe you’ve fallen out of love with this item, but you just can’t stand to let it go because of how much money you spent on it. The money is spent, regardless of whether you let it go.
But if you do let it go, you may be able to get some money out of it. There are so many apps and so many ways we can sell our gently loved and our gently used items to someone else who would love it. So don’t hang onto something just because it was expensive. The money is already gone. You may be able to get more money out of it by letting it go.
Are you hanging onto something for sentimental value? If so, I get it. We all have items that either bring back happy memories or we want to keep strictly because of the person who gave it to us. But as the number of sentimental items that we have increases, the degree of significance of each particular item actually decreases.
So what you can do is when you’re going through your home trying to decide what to declutter, keep a list of sentimental items. As you run into them, write it down and you will be able to see toward the end of that journey exactly how many sentimental items you’re hanging on to. Choose the top five or so items and keep those. Take a photo of the rest of them.
Especially if these items usually remain tucked away in a closet or a drawer where you don’t see them. You will then have a photo where you can readily enjoy and relive the memory that that item represents while still being able to let it go. Now, if you keep coming up if your brain keeps telling you, well, I might use this one day. I might need to keep this just in case. Let’s be realistic about it. When was the last time you used the item? Rationally determine the chances of needing this item in the future. If it has been more than a year since you have used it, it is probably safe to let it go. So let go of that item and let someone else who will use it more often use it.
And when I say, let go of an item, of course, there are so many different things we can do with it other than filling up a landfill fill. We can give it away to someone who is less fortunate than ourselves. Donate it and take the take the tax write-off. You can sell it on Facebook Marketplace or a million different apps.
We don’t just have to throw this away. You can keep your piles to give away, your piles to sell. And then the items that are broken or so lovingly used that they need to be tossed. That can be a separate pile as well. So now we have all decluttered our closets, our relationships, and our environment.
I have spent my whole weekend decluttering my environment. I can tell you, I feel so much better and so much lighter. So just know I’m right along here with you on this journey. And if you have any individual questions along the way or stumbling blocks along the way, just DM me on Instagram. I’ll be happy to answer any questions or help you with any other roadblocks that come up.
So if you’ve missed episode 53 or 55, no worries. You can go grab those and catch up with that right now. Our next episode is all about ridding our minds of the clutter that gets in the way of our happiness and our productivity. So until then go out and take daily imperfect action toward the life you want to live.
And I’ll meet you right back here.