The Life-Changing Benefits of Decluttering And Organizing
Since the birth of modern industrialization, after the last World War, people have been striving to accumulate wealth. Material possessions, from electronic appliances to cars, became the symbol of success. This behavior progressed up to the present digital era in which people are not only accumulating material things, but also information readily accessible via the web.
The result is a catastrophic pile of tangible and intangible clutter.
Past studies suggest that a cluttered environment can increase stress levels, lead to poor focus and encourage unhealthy eating. The health hazards of owning too much stuff are strongly backed by science, helping the popularity of the minimalism-inspired KonMari method. Marie Kondo, Japanese organizing and decluttering guru, teaches to assess every item you own, keep those that spark joy and discard the rest. “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life,” she wrote in her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
Here is a guide on how to declutter your home and your life.
Acquire a deep understanding of minimalism
Any lifestyle change requires groundwork. Change your mindset and everything else will follow. If you need a guide, skip the practical organizing tips (at least for now) and look for materials on the minimalist philosophy. Minimalism has its roots from danshari, a Japanese phrase coined by Hideko Yamashita in 2010.
“Wabi is to be satisfied with a little hut, a room of two or three tatami mats . . . and with a dish of vegetables picked in the neighboring fields, and perhaps to be listening to the pattering of gentle spring rainfall. . . . It is in truth the worshiping of poverty — probably a most appropriate cult in a poor country like ours,” according to Zen master Daisetsu T. Suzuki, who lived from 1871 to 1966.
How to declutter your life? Educate yourself on minimalism, Zen and Buddhist teachings. By grasping a deep understanding of minimalism, you can better shift from a maximalist lifestyle to something simpler and less complicated. It is advisable that you take time off and ponder what truly matters to you.
An organized home is good for your mental health. A UCLA study found that women who described their homes as cluttered suffered from chronic stress and an increased chance of depression. Conversely, those who lived in restorative living spaces had decreased stress and depression levels.
Keep those that you value and discard the rest
First things first: declutter your home. It is where you should find refuge after a long and challenging day at work or in school. Declutter your life by organizing your home. The KonMari Method suggests classifying your possessions into five groups for easier organizing: clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and sentimental things. You can create sub-categories if needed. Then, declutter based on the category instead of the usual per location method. Downsizing will help you maximize any small space.
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest,” Marie Kondo advised. She said that you should hold every item and ask yourself whether it “sparks joy”. If not, you can either donate or throw it away.
After identifying which to keep and what to discard, explore a home design that maximizes a small living space, encourages interaction and stimulates relaxation. You can check out space arrangement tips such as installing floating shelves and using multi-functional furniture pieces. With fewer items in your home, you can easily decorate with pieces that are valuable to you.
A study reported that an organized environment encourages healthier eating habits and better behavior. “Clutter is stressful for the brain, so you’re more likely to resort to coping mechanisms such as choosing comfort foods or overeating than if you spend time in neater surroundings,” said Dr. Eva Selhub, author of Your Health Destiny: How to Unlock Your Natural Ability to Overcome Illness, Feel Better, and Live Longer.
Declutter your digital space
Minimal living requires a change in lifestyle. “Minimalism is really about reassessment of priorities, so you can remove unnecessary things from your life; get rid of things like possessions, activities, and relationships that do not improve or bring value to your life,” wrote Jane Andrews in Minimalism: Discover the Power of Less: Free Yourself from Stress and Clutter with Minimalism.
How much of your time goes to productive endeavors? The digital age is full of distractions. It is easy to lose focus. While social media has done wonders on how people communicate with one another and with businesses, it has also brought a lot of digital clutter. You get real-time updates on the lives, including problems, of other people when you should be unclogging your mind of unnecessary information. “The constant barrage of perfectly filtered photos that appear on Instagram are bound to hurt many people’s self-esteem, while obsessively checking your Twitter feed just before bed could be contributing towards poor quality of sleep,” according to the Independent.
Regulate your gadget use.
This does not only involve social media but everything digital that clutters your mind. Take the time to disconnect and do physical activities. You can go on a nature trip with friends, redesign your home and try out new space arrangement, or just relax.
Decluttering your home and your life can help reduce anxiety. This activity is both physical and mental in a sense that you’re discarding tangible and intangible baggage that might be burdening you. “When our space feels out together and tranquil, we feel more tranquil,” said Dr. Sherry Benton. The mess is an eyesore and can be overwhelming.
We have been living with the collective belief that more is better – more purchases and a large social network. We tend to forget the real aspects of our lives that truly matter such as productivity, relaxation and meaningful relationships. Do not get lost in piles of mess. Declutter your space and your life.