The virtues of cleaning up your clutter
Every two weeks our cleaner comes to visit. It’s a treat we give to ourselves. I love the day she comes and waves her magic cleaning cloth making the house sparkle top to toe. The night before she is due however, can be a little fraught!
I spend as much time cleaning for the cleaner as she probably spends on the whole house! Why? No we don’t live in the equivalent of student digs I witnessed in my youth! We (or I) do however, seem to accumulate ‘piles of things’ in a two week period that need to be sorted, thrown out or put away. No more! I’ have truly had enough of ‘stuff!’
Why tell you all this? Well Spring is here and this time of year carries with it an energy of ‘out with the old and in with the new’. There are countless programmes on TV about clutter, ranging from everyday excess to more serious forms of hoarding, ‘Clean Sweep’, ‘Extreme Clutter’, ‘Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder’. Such television shows demonstrate the negative impact that too much ‘stuff’ can have on our lives.
It seems common sense that our outer environment reflects the inner and research supports this. A study from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that when your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus and limits your brain’s ability to process information.
Clutter distracts us, makes us less productive and eats away at our time, energy and emotions. How much time and effort do we spend looking for things that we ‘put away safely’? The stress hormones shoot up, we miss deadlines, bills or important appointments and end up exhausted before we’ve even started tackling the to do list.
Keeping your house clutter clear
How does your house make you feel? Is it a peaceful sanctuary inspiring inner calm, or are there areas of it which, with just one glance, create chaos with your cortisol levels?!
I like to think that our house is not unusual, with pockets of peace and corners of clutter. This year, however, I have turned over a new leaf and made up a motto ‘love it, use it or lose it!’
So here’s my plan to keep the house spic-and-span!:
Once a week – choose a place to clutter clear
Which part of your house is currently eating away most at your inner peace? It could be a kitchen drawer, an under-stairs cupboard, a wardrobe etc. Keeping it small and simple but working at it regularly avoids the overwhelming amount of time and energy required for tackling a whole room at once.
Set a time boundary
Committing to little and often ensures consistent progress. Try setting a time boundary around the time you are able and willing to give to the task of clearing. Set the alarm after 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Effective use of time
Whilst clearing, try listening to a peace of calming or uplifting music or even an inspirational speaker. Clutter clearing can make you feel tired and drained so it can be a useful counter balance to listen to something that enhances your mood while you clear.
Love it, use it or lose it
Instead of tying yourself in knots trying to decide what you do and don’t want to keep, put everything you love or use regularly to one side. Let go of the rest. It is much more fulfilling to focus attention on what you love and use rather than what you want to lose.
If you struggle with attachment to things such as books or DVD’s given to you by people you love, remember that once you have seen or read it, you will always have the experience of what was given to you without necessarily needing to keep the item.
If you are struggling to let go of things you could try ‘Craving Essence’ a flower essence which can encourage a sense of wellbeing when we are trying to change old habits.
Money making opportunity or donate to charity
Some possessions may be of financial value in which case eBay or local auction rooms are great places to sell. Recycling by taking items to charity or using websites such as freecycle not only leaves you with a clearer space but also benefits other people.
Rest and Reward
Don’t underestimate the emotional and mental impact of clutter clearing. It can be like a healing crisis where initially, as you are sorting, you may feel angry, frustrated, tired, sad, anxious etc. but once the task is completed a great sense of freedom, relief and release can settle in. Take time to rest afterwards and reward yourself (preferably not by bringing in more things!) for your efforts.
Less is more
As you start to clear out the cupboards and keep only those things you love and use, take a moment to notice how much more pleasure is derived from the few things you truly value.
Enjoy the peace
Give yourself time to enjoy the peace you create. In this world, busy outside and in, peace is a valuable commodity and when you clear your space you can choose to live at a gentler pace.
Keep up the good habits
There will always be more stuff waiting to be accumulated, so be sure to keep up the good habits. Wait….pause…. before you allow in things that will fill up the drawers!