If we’re honest we will all admit to having days where you cannot wait to get out of your home because you cannot face the clutter, Or avoiding one room all together because the space just makes you feel stressed and unhappy.
The fact is, the very things we are holding onto because we have an attachment to it, a believe that having it with us, in our limited space, will make us happy, are the things making us unhappy.
We all have visions of a home that is a sanctuary but this becomes even harder to achieve when you are accumulating more things and your home and storage space remains the same size. If you are not renovating or moving homes for more space, the stuff will eventually become overwhelming unless you address it in a manner that works for you and your lifestyle.
There are many theories on how to deal with too much stuff: Adapt the “one thing in, one thing out” rule. Or perhaps a strict minimalist approach of living with 30 things and caring for that well. Whether you decide to make regular purging or de-clutter appointments for yourself once or twice a year or just adapt an approach of thriving in the chaos, there are definitely some things you can do to create a sanctuary for yourself and your family without taking drastic de-clutter steps.
The professionals’ top tips to achieve less clutter, for the long-term
Always think storage, storage, storage.
Assign everything in your home its own place and always put it back when it was used. Before buying additional items think of where these items will be stored in your home. If you cannot envision a place for it, it is probably a sign that you do not really need it and should not buy it.
Top tip: When buying or building a home take into consideration that you will need more storage space than you currently have as you accumulate stuff over time. A good guideline is to look for a house that has at least twice the storage space your current home has, more if your family will be growing.
Value functionality, not order.
When organising your home remember that your house needs to be functional above everything. It is no good having a kitchen cabinet or wardrobe that is full of labelled boxes but does not function well. The same goes for kids’ toy boxes and wardrobes. If you teach your children from an early age that everything has a functional space and must be returned to that space after use, it facilitates function, autonomy and a tidy play area. All the one-in/one-out rule brings you is a new toy lying on the living room floor each month.
Remember that ownership needs a time investment
Every possession in your home takes time. It takes time to store it, time to find it if it was misplaced the last time you used some of your time to use it, time to clean it, time to fix it. Your home is filled with things that want your time and if you do not give it the time it needs you will be left with irrational guilt for letting your home fall into “disrepair”. The more things you have in your home, the more time you need to sacrifice, the greater your potential for unhappiness.
Before you buy anything new, before you decide to keep something, ask yourself if owning it truly justifies the total time investment required to keep and maintain it in your home. With items that has no emotional or sentimental value it really is that easy – keep it in your space if it’s worth it, throw it out if not.
Have space limit rules
If you’ve always been a bit of a hoarder, trying to implement drastic minimalist-living rules in your home from the get-go is likely to be ineffective. You need to start with a more obtainable goal; set space limit rules. Your children can have as many toys as they want as long as it all fits into three plastic bins with lids, the family can have as many books as long as it fits into three bookshelves.
Top tip: Set workable rules that fit in with your home and family. It will then be easy to stick with it and large purges or de-clutter missions will be limited to when the space rule is exceeded.
Remove emotion from the purge
Experts agree that it is best to approach items you feel attachment to with logic, hard as it may be. If you claim to have a strong attachment to an object; a letter or a wool jersey, the true test is what you do with it if you do not use it. If it is proudly and lovingly displayed in your home it has a place and does not clutter your home. If it is stored away in the dark corners of your bedroom wardrobe or your garage then you can probably let it go. Take a photo of the item if you would like a forever memory prompt.
If it is something that you want to pass on to the next generation then you need to find suitable storage for this item so that it does not cause you unhappiness. Consider acquiring a storage locker outside of your home to still keep your sanctuary clutter free.
Seven ways to curb further cluttering
Once you’ve done a major de-clutter in your home it’s important to change your habits to avoid falling into the same pattern again. Here are seven things professional organisers say you need to do every day to limit clutter and keep your space worthy of sanctuary status.
#1 Make your bed every morning. It sets you up for a productive day and nothing beats retreating into a room with a beautifully made bed at the end of a long day.
#2 Put your clothing away when you take it off. Whether it needs to go to dirty laundry or be folded up for another day’s wear, dealing with it immediately avoids mounds of clothing that needs sorting and folding.
#3 Wash your dishes. Wash your dishes at the end of every day. It just make getting up and making coffee that much more pleasurable.
#4 Wipe down surfaces. It just keeps your space looking better finished off.
#5 Sort your mail and toss junk immediately. Get rid of any mail you do not need and keep the rest in a dedicated place so you will know where to find it if needed. Better yet, ask for all mail to be sent to you electronically and avoid the chaos of a post box while doing your bit for a greener earth.
#6 Have a dedicated key spot. This avoids rummaging for them in a frantic search when you should have left ten minutes ago.
#7 Deal with each day’s things daily. Each day give yourself a couple of minutes to empty or pockets and bag. Toss out receipts you won’t need, place loose change into your coin jar and put anything you might need for the next day into your bag.