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Learn seven of the most powerful benefits of decluttering to help motivate you to conquer your clutter once and for all.
Listen to the audio version of this piece below or on The Optimized Mom Podcast.
I’m going to be super honest for a second here.
I think decluttering is a REALLY boring topic. And I’ve written about it a lot. But the benefits that come from decluttering? Those are magic. And so I continue to write articles and record podcasts designed to make the process more manageable.
One of the biggest problems most of us have is getting motivated to start decluttering in the first place. There are so many good reasons just to leave all that stuff where it is.
That’s why in all of my decluttering resources, the first step I lay out for you is to determine your ‘why’—that reason you want to declutter in the first place. I always urge you to be specific when choosing your ‘why’, knowing that it is as individual as you are.
In case you’re struggling to come up with a ‘why’, though, let’s chat about a few of the most magical benefits of decluttering.
Benefits of Decluttering # 1: Decluttering Helps Reduce Stress
This one has been well documented. A 2009 study done at UCLA found that women who felt their homes were cluttered had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Ideally, your home would be your haven. The place you go to rest away from the troubles of the outside world. Does your home feel that way, though? When you look around you, do you feel serene and positive?
Or are you instead stressed out by unfinished projects and work you need to do? Are you reminded of a time that you spent money on something you now regret? Of hobbies that you no longer have the time or inclination to enjoy?
The clutter around us and our thoughts about it can really make us feel terrible, and taking the time to clear that clutter reduces our stress.
#2: Living in a Clutter-free Space Frees Up Extra Time for Activities That Make You Happy
There’s no doubt about it. Living in clutter costs you a lot of time. Ever noticed how much more difficult it is to clean areas that are cluttered? Also:
- it’s tricky to find that one piece of paper you want when it’s in the middle of a giant pile.
- getting dressed is harder when you’re looking for the one shirt that fits well among the ones you wore before you had babies.
- putting away the leftovers is even more of a chore when the one Tupperware lid you want is buried under 27 others.
And this time that you’re giving over to your clutter—this is your life. This is time you could spend reading a book, cuddling with someone you love, or going for a walk. When your home is cluttered, you’re likely trading time spent managing your stuff for time spent doing something that would bring you joy.
Benefits of Decluttering #3: Decluttering can help improve your relationships with others
I get asked regularly about what to do when someone else’s clutter is mucking up your space. It’s a common concern that the possessions of a spouse, kiddo, parent, or roommate are making someone’s life worse.
If you live with others and you’ve got a bunch of stuff, there’s a good chance that stuff is bugging them and leading to either outright arguments or quiet resentment.
And even if you live alone, ask yourself if the clutter in your home prevents you from enjoying your space with others. Do you avoid having guests altogether? Or do you invite people, but spend the hours before they come in a panic trying to make things presentable and feeling sorry you ever extended the invitation?
We all know deep down that people are more important than things, but it can be really hard to remember this fact when our treasured possessions are at stake.
#4: Decluttering saves money
Clutter is expensive. You might need to get a bigger house or apartment to house your clutter. If it all doesn’t fit in the house, you could spend money to rent a storage space or a pod. The clutter in your home and storage locker often needs dressers, desks, bins, shelves, boxes, and bags to contain it.
What’s more, we. often end up repurchasing things that we already have because we simply can’t find them.
And paper clutter can contain unopened bills (which rack up fees when they go unpaid) or literal checks, gift cards, and cash that get misplaced and unused.
My FREE Declutter Jump Start helps you build a 10-minutes-at-a-time decluttering habit while you play Bingo.
Benefits of Decluttering #5: Decluttering creates mental clarity and leads to greater productivity
As I mentioned earlier, our clutter often talks to us—causing us stress and regret. And all of that visual noise creates mental noise, too. It can be really difficult to focus on the task at hand when your desk is covered with alternate projects, your iPhone screen is cluttered with enticing apps, and your floor is covered with all of those things you didn’t get a chance to put away.
In one study at Harvard, 103 undergrads attempted to crack an unsolvable puzzle. Some got to sit in a tidy office. Others sat at one littered with papers, cups, and folders. The ones in the tidy office worked for 1,117 seconds before giving up, more than 1.5 times as long as those who had been exposed to the messy space (669 seconds).
The folks that authored the study theorized that the messy environment signaled a threat to the puzzle-solvers. Participants used valuable energy they could have spent on the puzzle reacting to the mess. And this was mess in an anonynous office–clutter without all the stories our possessions hold. Imagine how much more energy draining your own clutter is?
#6: Decluttering is Empowering
There’s something really invigorating about having a sense of control over your environment. And I think we can all recognize the helpless feeling that comes when you can’t seem to make headway.
When you live in a clutter-free home, you get to be the kind of person who can manage her environment. A person who knows how to prioritize her possessions. One who knows how to let go of the pretty good to make room for the great. And this intentionality can’t help but follow you into your other endeavors as well.
Benefits of Decluttering #7: Decluttering Helps You Make Room For More
Yes, decluttering your space will literally help you make room for more stuff—another book in the bookcase or t-shirt in your closet. But I’m more interested in the figurative, “woo-woo” kind of more.
I’ve alluded to this a bit already. Decluttering might bring you more peace. More free time. Extra visits with people you love. More money. Increased productivity. But what else might be out there for you?
When we got rid of all our stuff back in 2019, we had the freedom to travel around the world. And when it came time to settle down again, it was easy to relocate more than 2500 miles away from the home we’d previously owned.
What are you dreaming of right now that seems impossible? Is there a chance that decluttering could help you get it?
Well, there you go: seven benefits of decluttering your life. If you take nothing else away from this, remember that your stuff is not neutral. It’s either making your life better or making it worse. If you can’t think of a really good reason why you want to keep those things that are causing clutter in your home, I hope this gave you some good reasons why you might want to eliminate them.
Make room for some magic.
Do It Now:
Depending on the state of your home, your entire decluttering project might seem overwhelming, but the work you can choose to do today isn’t. Here’s how to start:
- Determine your ‘why’. I shared some inspiration above, but why does YOUR clutter need to exit your life
- Set a timer for 10 minutes, choose a small area–a pile, shelf, or drawer and start. Throw things in the trash, put them away, add them to a box to donate, etc. When your brain argues that this isn’t enough time, tell it to shut up. You’re a person who spends 10 minutes a day decluttering now, and 10 minutes a day is 70 minutes at the end of this week, 5 hours by the end of this month, and more than 180 hours by the end of this year. That’s a lot of time spent making things better.
- If you’d like more guidance through this process, check out my Declutter Jumpstart. It contains my Declutter Bingo Card, which was featured in Real Simple Magazine, as well as other resources designed to help ensure your success.