In the two years since I started decluttering and organizing people’s surroundings, I’ve noticed something: the chaos of clutter causes undue stress. We don’t even realize it’s the clutter. We think it’s our soul-sucking job, our over-committed commitments, or our dreary, repetitive household tasks.

Of course, these things can add excessive pressure to our lives. I remember when I went through this many years ago. Our children were in school and I was working two part-time jobs during their school hours, driving them to sports practices and music lessons, helping out the PTA and doing the laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and all of those other jobs that torture us. I had piles upon piles in all of the living areas of my home. I was overwhelmed and pretty much burned out.

Most people hire a house cleaner to help lift part of the burden, thinking their house or office will become magically cleaner and more organized. How do I know this? Because one of those part-time jobs I held back then was as a professional house cleaner. My crew and I cleaned diligently around the clutter and chaos, but you know what they say about polishing the proverbial turd.

This is when things get worse. Because who feels like cleaning their place at all when faced with moving countless piles as we go? So, when we can’t stand it anymore, or – heaven forbid – someone is coming for a visit, we stop cleaning for the most part; giving the home a once over and throw our piles into bags in closets or other storage areas.

All of this causes stress. And we carry it out of the door with us everyday. It colors our view of everything else we’re juggling. Everything else seems monumental. And sometimes, everything else is monumental. But sometimes, the root of it is that your surroundings aren’t peaceful and restive. Which is why I share with you now, these 5 simple ways to reduce clutter and stress:

5 Simple Ways to Reduce Clutter and Stress

  1. DON’T SELF-SABOTAGE, JUST START SMALL – If you normally think “big project” when considering your overcrowded environment, just consider a “smaller” activity. Sometimes clutter seems to spill out into all facets of our lives. What does your car look like? Leaving your cluttered indoor setting to enter a car full of paperwork, clothes or empty food containers and other trash is disheartening. Take a half hour to clear out your car. Have a trash bag, and a few boxes or bags: one for your upstairs stuff and one for your main floor. Or, if you live in a rancher, one for the kitchen and living areas and one for your bed and bath areas. Use a bag for credit card receipts that need to be shredded and another for paperwork that you need to file. If you keep your car neat, work on a small area of the one room that bothers you the most. I know, I know. It’s so hard to do without getting sidetracked.
  2. STEP AWAY FROM THE DISTRACTIONS – Create the most advantageous conditions to keep yourself on track. Allot a certain amount of time to do nothing but de-clutter. Set a timer if you have to and, if you’re determined to get a lot done, give yourself two hours. Turn off the TV, power down the computer, put your phone on vibrate and let the calls to go voicemail.
  3. USE THE RIGHT TOOLS – Set up boxes with newspaper, bubble wrap or extra shopping bags for anything fragile that you want to donate. If you wish to write off your donations, have a pad of paper and make a list of what you donate. Grab a large trash bag for items you want to toss. Keep vinyl gloves, a bottle of glass cleaner and another bottle of dust cleaner near you along with some cleaning rags or paper towels. Place a box of tissues nearby if you’re allergic to dust. If dust causes asthmatic symptoms for you, it might even be a good idea to wear a face mask. Now you have no reason to walk away from the work area.
  4. CHOOSE A REWARD BEFORE YOU START – Are you going to clear out a room? Do something you really love that will commemorate that achievement. Watch a favorite movie, play a round of golf, just go ahead and pamper yourself! How about cleaning out your car? Treat yourself to a professional car wash when you’re done. You get the picture, right?
  5. LIGHTEN UP – If you’ve tried to de-clutter several times and haven’t been satisfied with the results, we at Lighten Up are ready to help you with our good-natured assistance.

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