By Laura Bollinger, RDN
Do you have multiple containers of the same spice because you can never find what you need? Do your bathroom drawers refuse to close? Do your closet doors refuse to stay latched no matter how hard you lean on them? Is the floor in your kids’ rooms completely hidden? Are bookshelves overflowing and at risk of toppling over?
If any of this sounds familiar, this Spring may be the perfect time to do some decluttering.
But what do you do with all of this stuff that doesn’t spark joy, as the author and now Netflix star Marie Kondo puts it?
Many of us may groan at the thought of spring cleaning, but there are actually some pretty good reasons to consider it. Research suggests that decluttering can reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase your creativity.
Conversely, disorganization and clutter has been linked to reduced levels of physical activity, less healthy food choices, and reduced levels of efficiency and productivity, which can significantly decrease our quality of life.
More Benefits of Decluttering:
- Allows you to clean more thoroughly
- Reduces dust, minimizing colds and allergies
- Cuts areas for pests to hide
- Decreases chances of mold or mildew growing
- Lowers stress
- Supports creativity
- Improves mood and promotes happiness (sparks joy!)
- Reduces depression
- May increase physical activity
- May improve eating habits
If the idea of decluttering or spring cleaning simply sounds like too large of a task, read on to learn how even the busiest among us can accomplish it and feel refreshed.
Clearing out the clutter doesn’t need to be one major effort to purge all unused items in your life, although it certainly can be. Though we may not all adopt the KonMari Method™, as with most things, we each take a somewhat different approach, and this is definitely true when it comes to decluttering.
For some, it will be easier to set aside an entire day to sort and sift through their house room by room. Others prefer to gradually and meticulously sort through items that have accumulated and are now collecting dust. Whatever your approach, it can be quite freeing to see all the clear space on the floors, in closets, and even on the walls!
Top Tips to Declutter Your Space:
- Start small – just five minutes or just one shelf at a time is manageable and makes a difference over time.
- Take it easy – write down all the spaces in your home you would like to declutter. Begin with the easiest space.
- Throw away trash – with busy lives, even trash can pile up; give it the boot before it begins collecting dust.
- 12-month rule – ask yourself why you are keeping anything that hasn’t been used in 12 months. If you don’t have a really good reason to keep it, don’t.
- Create organization – create a space for the things that need to be kept such as bills, mail that needs attention, etc.
- Donate – often we struggle to get rid of things that could still be used, so let someone else have the joy of using it!
- Implement a routine – now that you have a clean slate, get in the habit of clearing the clutter on a regular basis. Put the outfit you just wore in the appropriate place instead of on the floor. Put the dish just used in the dishwasher instead of on the counter. Taking one minute now will reduce the need to set aside an afternoon to put clothes away from an entire week or wash several days dishes.
- Say no to a sack – next time you go shopping, take a reusable bag and skip the plastic bags at checkout, preventing the clutter from entering your home.
- Turn around – turn all your hangers backward until you wear the item. If hangers are still backward in six months donate those clothes.
- Return it – if you’ve borrowed something from a friend or bought something but didn’t use it, return it.
- Plan it – before heading to the grocery store, put a plan together. Write down the meals you plan to prepare for the week. Then create a grocery list of only the items needed. At the grocery store, stick to you list to save time, money, and space.
Another way to reduce the clutter is to prevent it from entering your house in the first place. When you get your mail, stop by the recycle bin on the way inside and drop off any items that you do not need. When you get home from work, pick up any trash items in your car and toss them in the bin immediately. When shopping, ask yourself if you really need all those items. Save money and prevent clutter by avoiding the trap of buying something solely because it is on sale.
Use technology to store files, papers, photos, and videos. Not only does this cut down on clutter, but it also helps to ensure you won’t lose precious family photos. By keeping a digital copy, a new one can always be printed if something happens to the original.
If the kitchen is your primary area of clutter, menu planning and preparing a shopping list are some of the best ways to tidy things up. Most families repeat the same 15-20 meals each month. Take some time to write down the most common meals you and your family enjoy. Stick it inside a cabinet door or in your favorite cookbook. Set aside 20-30 minutes each week to create a meal plan, pulling from your tried and true family favorites as well as adding some new recipes for variety. From this plan, a shopping list can be jotted down while looking through the kitchen to see which items are actually needed. Not only will this save space by not buying duplicate items, it will also save money because fewer foods will go to waste.
As we keep things tidier, we are more likely to continue the practice. If the living room is organized, then a blanket tossed on the floor seems more out of place than if there are pillows, papers, cords, and electronics strewn every which way. It is so much easier to pick up one or two items and return them to their place than to put away 10 or 20 items.
Above all, take comfort in knowing that we don’t need to collect worldly possessions as we will have no need for them in eternity. "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians 3:2).
God gives us many things here on Earth, yet expects us to share and give those things away when He asks it of us. Our possessions shouldn’t become so dear to us that we can’t walk away from them if He calls us to.
Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter; no matter when you do your decluttering, know you will reap the benefits of your labor in many ways. Simply by cleaning and decluttering you can increase the chances of achieving other health-related goals in your life and clear the way to feel your best as you impact God’s Kingdom.