Self-care includes saying “no” to clutter



Smiling middle-aged female customer choosing apparel on shelves at store

Putting things away and regularly getting rid of clutter makes you feel better too. ©Adobe Stock

“You can do without forty percent of stuff in your home,” says Julia Brooks, a professional organizer with The Organizer of Shreveport. Forty percent! That’s a lot! “Once you get rid of clutter—unnecessary stuff—you eliminate stress, you save time and money, you feel empowered, you clear your brain and you live a more peaceful life,” says Brooks.

We don’t often consider the emotional toll of clutter, but it plays a role in keeping us overwhelmed, unorganized and inefficient.
Consider your closet. It’s the 80/20 rule. “You only wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time,” says Brooks. “What’s in the laundry room and a few other clothes in your closet, you wear,” she says. Everything else should go. If you purge what you’re not wearing, it’s much easier to get dressed and out the door.

Less stuff creates less distraction. The same applies to our kids. With overstuffed closets, they have a hard time finding what they need for the school day.

“I have one client who was always late-could never get her family out the door on time,” says Brooks. After working with her and decluttering her closet, it completely changed her mornings. To her family’s amazement, “she’s now ready before anyone else,” says Brooks.

What about the piles of mail that multiply with each passing day? What feelings do you experience when you pass that pile? Dread? Concern? Anger?

Saying no to clutter allows us to clean out our minds while we clean out our homes.

Mail must be dealt with every day, according to Brooks. “The paper is a huge consumption coming into the home,” she says. “Everybody should immediately get their mail and dispose of junk mail first. Take out only the bills and have a specific space that just the bills go.” Other mail you want to browse later–perhaps a magazine or flyer–needs a bin or specific place.

Helping our kids declutter their binders, regularly throwing out what they don’t need, teaches them the value of organization with their schoolwork. “Teens who are organized make better students,” says Mrs. Teusch, a high school Psychology teacher.

Unused technology can be another source of clutter and takes up space better used for other things. “I have clients with electronic graveyards,” says Brooks. Whether in an attic or an office, she doesn’t let them keep stuff they no longer use. “I take it to wherever the client wants to donate and get a receipt for it.” She knows the danger of leaving it to the client to dispose of–it might not happen.

Brooks says it’s not unusual to have one room that becomes a dumping ground. An “I’ll-deal-with-it-later room.” Procrastination sets in until finally, someone decides it’s time for a change. The change of season upon us creates the perfect time to sort through clutter and clothes, organizing our closets and living spaces in the process.

Saying no to clutter allows us to clean out our minds while we clean out our homes. “Every client I have tells me, ‘It’s very empowering–I’ve had a huge weight lifted off. I’m so much more at ease, I’ve gained more efficiency, and my brain feels less cluttered,’” says Brooks.

Modeling self-care by saying “no” to clutter helps our children understand the importance of organization, a valuable skill that reaches into adulthood.

Families in our communities affected by floods, fires and other tragedies have needs that can likely be met by items crammed in our closets or attics that are rarely used. Experience the power of saying “no” to clutter and help your neighbor in the process.

GAYLA GRACE is a freelance writer and mom to five kids with only one still at home, a teenager who needs to declutter his closet.



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