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How to declutter your home without feeling overwhelmed

01 June 2020

Our Bolton based Community Mental Health Service, BAND advises on how decluttering your house can help maintain a clearer headspace and mental wellbeing. Read on to find out their top tips.

Why declutter?

Owning fewer things can make living easier. Without clutter swamping you, you are more able to enjoy hobbies, get on with cooking, be creative, and enjoy life with less stress. You no longer have to wade through your rooms. You can trim away the fat of things that no longer conform to your tastes or bring you happiness, be it clothes, hobbies or furniture.

The benefits of decluttering

The clutter in our home can be a constant source of stress, making you ashamed, and reluctant to allow friends or guests to visit. At the extreme scale, these relationships can be impacted. The time saved on not cleaning becomes outweighed by the extra time spent looking for things and moving stuff to and fro to allow you to complete daily routines.

When your home is free from clutter, it is easier to reduce dust and allergens, as it can be harmful to people with respiratory conditions. Keeping the house clean becomes less arduous when surfaces are empty and there is less on the floor to hoover around.

We have created a list of tips to help you take steps towards decluttering your home:

1. Starting decluttering

Find the right time to start. Our daily lives consume energy, do not overburden yourself. Start decluttering on a week when you don’t have other expectations weighing down on you. If you have booked a week off work you can use the time to start decluttering. This will allow you to build up some success which will make it easier to keep going.

2. Break tasks down into manageable chunks

It takes a lot of work to declutter an entire house. You can take it step by step, focusing on a room, or an area within a room (for example organising a bookcase) at a time. You can focus your efforts on completing each element in a room before moving on to the next.

3. Make piles

Separate objects into different piles, things that you want to keep and things that you will no longer keep. The keep pile can be split into things you regularly use, and things you want to store. The pile of things you no longer want can be split into the things that you will throw away, the things you will recycle, and the things you will donate to a friend or a charity; you could also create a pile of things to sell, but it can take time to find a buyer and will probably take longer to get rid of. When you pick up an item, decide which pile it belongs to.

4. Do I use this item on a regular basis?

For items that have been sitting on a shelf or in a cupboard for 6 months without use, but you still feel an attachment to, it might be helpful to remember that a lot of times they can be replaced quickly and at low cost if you are ever to need them again in future. If you have items that you are storing and plan to use again someday, set a specific date for when you are going to use it, if this date comes and you have still not found a use for it, decide again if it is worth keeping.

If the item was in a shop and you didn’t own it would you buy it? Stuff that once brought us joy, even if they no longer do so, can be hard to part with. A good way to cut through the fog of nostalgia and see the true value of an item is to ask yourself whether you buy this item again if you saw it in a shop today.

5. Get over the possible future monetary value of items

In most cases, the things you own aren’t going to increase in value. Therefore the money you have spent on your belongings should be considered as permanently gone. You are not going to get a fair return on rare records, retro video games or novel ornaments compared to the time and love you have spent collecting and holding on to them. Rather than seeing your belongings in terms of their possible future monetary value, it will be of more benefit to your life to see items in terms of the value they bring to you personally, and organise your rooms and storage space accordingly.

6. Keep flat surfaces clear

To stop accumulations on counter tops and coffee tables, dedicate a home for everything you own, it could be a drawer or cupboard. Some items need to be on surfaces, for example a kettle and toaster on a kitchen counter, or a lamp on a nightstand, but you want to reduce surface items to just the essentials. It is common for desks to attract stacks of paper, magazines or old mugs. Ask yourself where the clutter would live if not on the flat surface. It may be that paper could be shredded or filed, magazines put on a shelf and then recycled once finished reading, and cups taken back to the kitchen and washed. The quicker you find a home for new clutter that appears, the better chance of it not building up to unmanageable levels.

7. Make the most of wall space

The more storage space available, the more things you can comfortably store in your house. In the kitchen for example, you can free up space in cupboards by storing pots, pans and spices on wall racks and hangings.

8. Keeping it going

In most cases, decluttering your home is not going to happen overnight. As long as you keep making progress at a pace that is comfortable to you, be proud of yourself. The aim is not to have a perfect spotless home, but to make life as comfortable and as stress free as it can be. If you have reached a level where you are happy with the state of your house, you just need to maintain things. If you find it useful, a schedule can remind you to keep on top of household tasks, you can create your own, or use a readymade one.

Find out more about our BAND Mental Health service or contact our free FamilyLine helpline for free information, guidance and support.