84% Say Clutter Adds to Stress

Too much stuff – deal with it – feel the joy!

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” Will Rogers

According to the Australia Institute research paper “Stuff Happens”, 88% of Australians have at least one room where they stash trash and it is making us stressed just thinking about it.

“How clutter affects people: More than a quarter of survey respondents (29 per cent) said that clutter stops them enjoying their time at home, while one in five (21 per cent) said that clutter in their home impedes their ability to move around the place. Almost half of all respondents (48 per cent) said there was an area or room in their home that they don’t like visitors to see due to clutter. Indeed, about 28 per cent agreed that ‘the clutter in my home makes me feel embarrassed.”

My colleague Megan (Head of Employee Experience) is a ‘professional organiser’ in her spare time. She says you don’t necessarily need to become a complete minimalist, because she says to achieve this might be equally as stressful.

She whole-heartedly recommends simplicity. Megan’s top tips for de-cluttering are:

1. Don’t let stuff become clutter – if you have any doubt before you bring something home (think freebies that you pick up at conferences!) then don’t bring them into your home.

2. Never deal with something more than once. Make a decision when you bring something into your environment (home or work) and determine its purpose.

3. Have three piles

Action now: use it or file it in its permanent place
Action by the end of the month: if you haven’t used it by the end of the month – you bin it
Action never: bin now
4. If you bring something new into your space – then take something out. I do this with clothes. If I want to buy something new, I have to give something up. I regularly donate pre-loved business attire to the charity Dress for Success.

5. Before you buy something for someone – ask what activity, experience or thing you could give them. In other words, instead of adding to their clutter give them the gift of your time – give them something to do together. The CNN Study: Experiences Make Us Happier Than Possessions outlines the following findings from a recent study on happiness:

“Psychological research suggests that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions.

That’s in part because the initial joy of acquiring a new object, such as a new car, fades over time as people become accustomed to seeing it every day, experts said. Experiences, on the other hand, continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred.”

6. If in doubt seek professional help. There are lots of people who ‘de-clutter’ for a profession.

I’ve heard that 10% of all women’s clothes sold in Australia are never worn – it is shear waste. In 2010 I experimented to see if I could go a year without purchasing anything new for myself. No shoes, clothes or accessories. I did not manage it completely but I did go for 8 months without anything new for myself personally. And then I formed a the new habit of asking myself, “If I buy this item, then which one of my favorites is going?”

I particularly like Oprah’s suggestion: She definitely made this idea famous. To work out what you don’t wear, hang all of your clothes with the hangers facing away from you. After you wear an item, return it to the wardrobe with the hanger facing toward you. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes are not loved and can go somewhere else. (I want to try this with my kids bathroom products – why are there so many half used bottles?)

Self storage is one of the fastest growing industries in western cultures so take a minute to ask yourself “Do I really need any more stuff?” You will be happier when you de-clutter and just think about the benefit to the environment… recycling starts with reusing.

Have fun – it’s a game. Clothes swaps are the new black.

Remember “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” —Dale Carnegie

Image thanks to unclebobs.com – This article first appeared as part of my LinkedIn collection

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