I’m going to admit something to you: I have had a clutter problem most of my life, and didn’t really see the extent of it. Maybe you are like me … I knew I had too much stuff, and I knew my life would probably be a little easier without it. But the clutter wasn’t as much of a priority as all my other problems. You know, the stress of day to day life with kids, the cleaning, the meals, the bills, the craziness, ALL of the other things to deal with. It’s easy to put off decluttering your home.
What I didn’t realize was that the clutter made ALL of that other stuff much more difficult. When I finally took the time to cut out the clutter, it affected much more than just how messy or clean my home was. It really was life-changing!
If you are ready to start clearing out the excess (or have already started – yay!),it is SO worth the effort! The negative effects of clutter are constant, and so much a part of our everyday lives, that sometimes we don’t even notice them. Reducing your possessions really will change your life in so many ways!
Declutter your home and change your life
Considering the average American has OVER 300,000 items in their home (according to an article in the LA Times), we definitely have more than we need. It’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed (and it affects our children too). Decluttering your home can be done, and it can lead to BIG changes in your life.
3 Negative Effects of Clutter
Here are some of the negative effects of clutter that can help motivate you to make a change:
Clutter leads to HUGE amounts of waste
- With over 300,000 items in a home, some of those are going to end up in the garbage.
- I was SHOCKED to hear the average American throws out 65 POUNDS of clothing a year (from the Huffington Post).
- Also, the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys, but only plays with 12 of them (according to the Telegraph).
Clutter makes us unable to solve REAL problems
- Clutter causes decision fatigue. It stresses us out, and hinders productivity by using up the brain resources that allow us to think, brainstorm, and problem solve. (Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psychology Today)
- This means when a real problem comes up, we have no energy or thought power left to deal with it. We definitely don’t deal with things to the best of our ability. Sometimes we feel like we are walking around in a fog.
- Eliminating decision fatigue is why many top leaders and creative minds have pared their wardrobes down and wear basically the same thing every day.
Clutter leads to overstimulation (and worse)
- Overstimulation affects both adults and children.
- In kids, clutter can exacerbate existing mental conditions, and even causing PTSD-like symptoms (Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting)
Think about it
Here is an example of how overwhelming and overstimulating clutter can be. Think about your vacuum cleaner right now. If it’s not super-easy to get to, it could look a little like the scenario shown below. (Disclaimer: this is not my closet, and I’m not going to make this person mad at me by telling who’s it is!)
If you can’t see it, there is a vacuum cleaner in the back of this closet. Imagine if you had to drag it out of there every time you wanted to clean up. You might even have a similar (or worse) situation at your house (I know I have). If not the vacuum cleaner, there are probably other things you have a hard time getting to!
If this was your closet, most likely, you would see getting the vacuum out as a huge chore, and you might not get it out several times a day to clean up. You might not get it out even close to once a day (even if it really was needed)!
When you really think about it, getting that vacuum cleaner out doesn’t take much TIME at all. You would just have to move the green tote in the front of the closet, shimmy back there, and get it out. It would probably take you thirty seconds. However, the reason we feel so overwhelmed about getting it out could have a lot more to do with the clutter than the amount of time.
Now, let’s multiply the overwhelm from that one task by all the 300,000 items in our homes, and the tasks we do each day. It is easy to see why we feel bogged down with keeping up with our homes and all of our responsibilities. Don’t forget to add in the effort spent cleaning up and taking care of those things, and the effort to find things we need. We could be talking a full-on crisis!
Back to the vacuum cleaner example. Picture a small closet with just a few needed things inside, and they are all easy to get to. It would probably make us more willing to pull the vacuum out a few times a day (or as needed!) and clean up.
Have you have noticed any of the above effects in your own life? I know the clutter in my home affected me MUCH more than I realized. Looking back at the days my older two girls were babies and toddlers, and I wish I could make a drastic change in the amount of stuff I had to deal with. I know it wouldn’t have solved all my problems, but it certainly would have made a lot of things easier!
If you haven’t read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, it really is a must-read. It was the first book that made me want to do an overhaul on the clutter in my home. We started with the suggestions in the book to simplify our kids’ stuff, and saw SUCH a change that we began to declutter the rest of our home as well. Click for more about the book: Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
If you are looking for more motivation to declutter your home, and stick with it, make sure to download our FREE Minimalism Motivation Workbook below.
I hope you can experience the awesome changes that come with living a life with less stuff. If you are currently decluttering, or seeing changes in your life as a result, I’d love to hear about it!