As an Interior Designer the amount of stuff clients have can become an issue. Your Pinterest inspiration won't look quite the same with overflowing drawers, remotes here and there, and a basket full of random crap in the corner. And though I pride myself in transforming homes, I am not a magician. There's only so much I can do with lots of stuff. So when is there too much stuff and why is it a problem?
"Clutter is not just physical stuff. It's old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits, Clutter is anything that does not support your better self. " - Eleanor Brown
YOU FEEL FRUSTRATED
If coming home from a long day of work makes you anxious or as soon as you open your door you immediately want to hop into bed then it might be as simple as a home overflowing with junk.
"The more you own things, the more they own you..."
STORAGE IS OVERFLOWING
A tell tale sign of owning too much is that your closets are overflowing and bulging. Maybe your stuff has even taken over your laundry room, garage, or basement. Is there a space that you'd be ashamed to show your Grandma?
"Clutter is chaos. It's suffocating presence that drains us of peace & joy. And instead fills us with fear, hopelessness, shame, and anxiety."
YOU ARE ALWAYS PICKING STUFF UP
If your life feels like a constant cycle of waking up, picking up, eating, and sleeping then you likely have too much stuff. Okay, so mommas with littles get an excuse (though toys might be able to be paired down). But the rest of us without kiddos don't have any excuses. A little tidying here and there is necessary, but it shouldn't take up large portions of your day.
CLOTHES ARE LYING ON THE FLOOR
In tandem with "always picking stuff up" is that your clothes never find their way to your closet. Clothes strewn across your room at all times, probably means that you have too many clothes and not a good closet organizing system. Obviously there are days when it's impossible to curate that perfect outfit, but if this is a daily occurance, there's a problem. Having too many clothes actually makes it seem like you have few clothes that you love. If your closet consists of only clothes you LOVE then finding outfits you feel good in is simple. There's no need to go through 15 different blouses!
"It's better to have extra time on your hands & extra money in your pocket than extra stuff in your closet" - Joshua Becker
3 WORDS: MULTIPLE JUNK DRAWERS
I can get behind the idea of one junk drawer... maybe. But multiple junk drawers means that you just have a lot of junk. What if you just threw everything away in that junk drawer? Would you even miss it?
DEBT IS PILING UP
Unfortunately, an addiction to shopping and buying new things are reflected in your checkbook. If you peek into a bank statement, does it show that you are constantly buying more? A good assessment is to ask yourself what your ratio is of buying/bringing in versus throwing stuff out is in your home. If you are always bringing in, but never donating or decluttering... well you can see how quickly things can take over!
TREATMENT & PREVENTION
STOP SHOPPING NOW
Cut yourself off from shopping. Buying things can easily become an addiction-- one you didn't know you had. Stop yourself from online shopping and definitely stop in store shopping. Treat this like an addiction. If you need to pick up a few groceries, DO NOT go to Target, we both know you'll end up with a cart full of things you actually don't need. Instead, go to a specialized grocery store. If you have a few minutes to spare, take the long and scenic route home, instead of stopping by a store. If your girlfriends are going out shopping, tell them how you want to get control and need their accountability to go home empty handed. You get the jist. Make it extremely hard on yourself to purchase items that are wants.
A MONTH OF PURGING & ORGANIZING
Use this next month to start purging and organizing. Start small and in the area that you know you can easily get rid of items. By starting with the easiest area, you will gain confidence and feel the empowerment of letting go, making it easier to move onto harder spaces. If you know that you have lots of clothes you no longer wear, start with your closet. Then move to your dresser and go through all your drawers.
Throughout that month, go through every drawer, cabinet, and closet in each and every room.
You may come across things that are valuable and you'd feel guilty letting go of, sell them! Facebook Marketplace is the easiest platform for me to sell items-- I've had a lot of success with it.
Also, if you have things that aren't worth you taking the time to sell, but are in good condition-- DONATE! If you're a Bloomington local then check out the Hannah Center for your clothes or baby/kids goodies. Indianapolis locals should check out Hope Center Indy for womens clothes. There's lots of awesome places that can use what you aren't for a lot of good.
You will be surprised just how much junk you really had! I just finished going through my entire home and I lost count with how many donation and trash bags I had (And I live in a tiny apartment where it's hard to hide stuff!)
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHILE PURGING:
1. Has it sat here untouched for a year?
2. Am I solely holding onto it because of a memory?
3. Do I own something similar or identical?
4. If someone threw it away, without my knowledge, would it go unnoticed?
5. If I moved tomorrow, would I throw this out?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you should likely sell or get rid of the item in question.
Another important part of purging, is organizing afterward. I'm no expert at organization, but I have learned a few tricks due to my OCD;)
1. Separate items with bins. Cabinets and large pieces of furniture are great, but they often lead to a lot of disorganization and therefore a junk dump. Bins hidden in large pieces of furniture are a great way to keep things separated and organized. Look through Amazon & IKEA for bins and storage systems.
2. Make a space for everything. I have a lot of earrings. So of course I have a special spot just for my earrings, but because I have so many, I have a container that separates them into types of earrings (studs, big & bold, super fancy, and dainty).
Having a spot for literally everything you own makes it so much easier for you to pick up & put away. Life will be streamlined. And you'll always know where ___ is. For us, it was extra phone chargers! They moved around a lot, until we said, "this right here is our extra chargers bin and it will always be right here." It also means that you won't have a "junk drawer".
3. Items you use the most should be close to eye level and easiest to reach. The easier it is to put stuff away, the better.
4. Get pumped to organize by searching "Room organization" on Pinterest. Pinterest is a great way to spur you on the organizing journey. You can get lots of inspiration!
6. Keep a box in your car for donations. Inevitably, you will somehow accumulate more. It's like stuff sneaks into your house at night. And when that happens, you'll need to get rid of your old stuff. So just keep a box ready to go at all times. This box not only is helpful, but it also is a symbol that you can let go of things.
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
Keeping your home tidy, clutterfree, & organized is a mindset. Which means, you may have to actively change how you think about things. Things should not control you or even control your happiness. Simplifying your life with less stuff will make you feel free. It will give you the space to decorate, time to do more, and ultimately you will feel so much more free!
"Most of us who are weighed down by mental clutter -- the to-do lists and calendar events cataloged in our brains -- find a shocking amount of relief when we cut back on physical clutter. If your environment is less chaotic, your mind will be too." - Erica Layne
GET OUTSIDE HELP
Maybe this process just feels way to overwhelming-- that is okay! Reach out and get the help you need. I recommend Michelle from Sorted. She has different packages that fit different needs. Talk to her if you need some help getting control of the stuff in your home.
A CASE STUDY
Let me show you a peek into what can transpire when you let go. My Mom in law runs an awesome crafting business called Chalk Couture. Her office/studio is in her home located in a small bedroom. As the business has grown, so has the amount of stuff she needs. It started accumulating and so she purchased more furniture to accommodate it all but it was just the beginning of this cycle; get new products, buy a new storage caddy.
Unfortunately, organizing like this doesn't usually help. The best way to organize is to take on the entire space not just a piece of the mess.
Below is the Before:
This was the perfect time for her to declutter, get rid of items, and organize. Without going into details, she is having to let go of a lot in this season of life-- physically, spiritually, and mentally. Why not let go of a little more? And more than that, in the process create a room that will hopefully inspire her and fill her with joy in a time of weariness.
"Your home is your haven. Reduce clutter so you feel relaxed the minute you walk in the door."
While she was away for a week, my husband and I swooped in and went through every item determining if it should be thrown away, given to Goodwill, or kept. Zach and I made a plan for where every item we were keeping could go. Then we headed off to IKEA.
Zach was a dear and built all the furniture while I started organizing our items. With large pieces of furniture and small storage totes we were able to have a spot for all her goodies.
The before and after prove the importance of letting go. This space went from a chaotic mess to an environment that is refreshing and is spacious for creating. It's now a studio where you look forward to working and where you work all the more efficiently.
So who wants to start decluttering?!