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How do we end up having so much stuff?!

If you take a look around you right now, what do you see? If you are reading this at home, do you see a neat, well-organised, calm environment around you? Or is it filled with piles of clutter?

If there is clutter, you are not alone. An estimated 80% of people in the UK admit to having an ongoing battle with clutter. And the average adult in the UK is likely to have over £500 worth of unused goods that are just lying around, gathering dust.

A recent survey found that some of the main items that people cling onto are:

  • Books – 36%
  • CDs and records – 35%
  • Clothes – 33%

as well as collections of stamps, newspapers, magazines and bottles.

Remember these are things that are not being used and yet we are seemingly reluctant to get rid of them.

Children’s toys are also a pinch point: the average 10-year-old is likely to own around 238 toys but only play with 12 of them on a regular basis.

You may accept this as just the way things are. Surely clutter is part of life, particularly if you do have children? 

But there is a lot of research to show that clutter can have a negative impact on your life. In this article we take a look at that, and suggest ways that you can declutter not just your home, but also your life.

The problems caused by clutter

Believe it or not, there are a range of different problems that are either caused or made worse by clutter. Here are five of them:

  • Increased housework

If you hate doing housework, the good news is that by getting rid of clutter you could eliminate around 40% of it. Think about it. If there was not so much stuff in cupboards, drawers and lying around on surfaces you would not need to move it, tidy it, or clean it. It would not gather dust or make other things difficult to get to. It would save so much time and energy if the stuff was gone.

  • Stress

As well as taking up time and physical effort to maintain, clutter can cause a lot of stress. Even just looking around at clutter can set your subconscious mind racing at the thought of all that needs to be done. This can cause you not only to feel stressed but can actually raise your cortisol levels, which in turn raise heart rate and blood pressure. But if your home is uncluttered this can really boost your mood and enable you to truly relax.

  • Domestic conflict

Unsurprisingly , clutter can cause domestic conflict. If you are stressed about clutter, particularly someone else’s clutter, this can lead to arguments. In fact a UK survey found that 61% of households argue about clutter at least once a month, and over 33% argue every single week.

  • Embarrassment

Clutter can also cause embarrassment with friends and family. If you feel you have to spend ages tidying up and cleaning when you are expecting guests, it’s a sure sign you have too much clutter around. The same applies if someone drops round unexpectedly and you feel ashamed about the state of your home. How great would it be to be happy with the state of your home all the time, not just when you’ve spent all day getting organised.

  • Wasted time

Clutter can lead to significant chunks of wasted time. Think of how much time you spend looking for lost items that are submerged in your clutter. For example keys, money, documents, pens, tools etc. It’s estimated that over the course of our lifetime, we are likely to spend around 10 minutes every day looking for up to 9 lost items. If this is the case it equates to 3,680 hours or 153 days searching! 

What a waste of time! And one that could so easily be avoided.

The key to decluttering is – to quote the 19th century artist and author William Morris – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This concept is also taught by decluttering expert Marie Kondo, who encourages us to get rid of anything that does not “spark joy”.

Which all sounds great, but how do you actually get started on decluttering your home?

How to declutter your home

Last autumn we published an article called How to declutter your home by Christmas which contained some helpful information about how to go about decluttering your home. 

In that article we talked about a six point plan to declutter:

  • Commit to doing it and be prepared to put in the effort to see it through.
  • Plan what to do when – for example focus on either one room at a time or a category of items.
  • Be ruthless. Only keep what you love or need.
  • Clean and reorganise your storage space. We will look at this in more detail next.
  • Redistribute your unwanted items: give them away, sell them or repurpose them.
  • Do all the above regularly so your clutter doesn’t build up again.

You can read more about all of the above steps in our previous article.

How to stay uncluttered

Decluttering also gives you the opportunity to make changes to the layout of your home and improve how you organise the things that you are keeping. Let’s take a look at some ways to do each of these:

  • Change the layout of your home

If you have less stuff, you could potentially have more space to make some changes in your home. For example you may want to move furniture around within a room to change the feel of the room and make better use of natural light. 

You may even decide to change the function of a room. For example, if you have a dining room that you hardly ever use, why not change it into a den for the kids, a home office, a hobbies room or a spare bedroom?

  • Improve your organisation

Decluttering also gives you a great opportunity to make a fresh start in the way you store and organise your stuff. The first priority is to be practical and make sure that you can easily find and access the things you need most often. There really is a lot of truth in that old saying about a place for everything, and everything in its place. If you need a financial boost to invest in some smart new storage solutions, remember that Loans 2 Go offer quick loans that may be able to help.

But also take time to store things in a way that looks nice and makes the most of your home. And if you have special items that are meaningful to you, try and find a way to display those so that you can see them every day rather than waste away at the back of a cupboard somewhere.

And of course the key to staying uncluttered is to tackle potential clutter on a daily basis so that it has no chance to build up again. Try to get everyone in the family into the following six steps to stay uncluttered:

Don’t let your clutter hot spot – kitchen surface, hall table, bedside cabinet etc – build up again. Clear it at the end of every day.

Put everything back where it belongs when you have finished with it rather than leave it lying around. It takes no more time but keeps your home tidy and uncluttered.

Tackle small quick jobs as soon as you see them rather than putting them off. For example sorting the post, putting out the rubbish, or hanging up a coat.

Keep a charity bag on the go all the time; for example the ones that come through the door and are then collected a few days later.

Unsubscribe from everything you don’t want, for example junk mail, papers and magazines or catalogues. Otherwise it’s a waste them coming into your home only to gather dust or get thrown away.

If you buy something new, why not get rid of something old? You will then have more stuff that you like rather than more stuff for the sake of it.

 

We hope that this article has motivated you to start tackling your clutter, and begin to create a home that is more comfortable and organised – and less stressful to live in.

What many people find is that if they manage to seriously declutter and simplify their homes, it can lead to a desire to also start simplifying their lives. To adopt a more minimalist lifestyle. Getting rid of excess stuff can give you time and space to focus on other priorities. You may find that you are able to start putting time, energy and money into the things that matter to you. 

Good luck with it all. And remember to check back here with us soon at Loans 2 Go for more lifestyle and financial tips.