Tidying your space

Every year we spring-clean our home and go through all our clothes, kitchenware and bathroom goodies, to not only clean the house from top to bottom, but also to get rid of things that are no longer used, has rarely ever been used, or that has passed its date.

However, there are still things in my cupboards that has not been used recently (or even in the last few years I must admit), but it is still there.  As my brother sometimes says – you don’t clean the cupboards, you just reshuffle everything in it!

Decluttering your home and office space once a year is something that shouldn’t bring you down, although some people find it hard to throw away / give away things and instead hoard.

According to psychological research clutter affects the brain’s ability to concentrate and process information, and it has a powerful effect on your mood and self-esteem.  Ever felt overwhelmed?  It is the same with hoarding…. you know you have to start somewhere but you don’t know where, so in the end you leave it.  Psychologists also believe that hoarding is linked to deep seated emotional issues; which can be anything from scared of letting go, to a low self-image.

Cory Cook, a time-management expert, believes that people must start to change their attitude and believes towards things:  we hold the power over things, not things over us!

Here are six ways that she gives to declutter and tidy your space:

  1. Limit the load:  instead of keeping each and every picture that your child made, save one or two and bin the others.  Your subconscious brain only stores the most important pictures / things; the person should be the important one, not the item.
  2. Clear your bedroom:  put away the washing and the cell phones.  Linda Blair, clinical psychologist, states that “if the clutter reminds you that you have a job to do, then it’s the equivalent of having electronic devices in your room pinging away, demanding your attention.”  Add to that that you will deprive yourself of a good night’s rest if you look at the screen (of a cell phone and/or television) just before you put off the light (as it has been proven that the flickering of the screen, although not visible with your eyes, is registered by your brain, thus it keeps your brain active instead of settling down to sleep)!  Your bedroom, after all, should be like your bathroom – a sanctuary where you can relax and sleep; not a place where you work.  It is fashion to have a television in your bedroom, but many experts believe that romance will fly out the door when you bring a television into the room!  Instead, enjoy your own and/or each other’s company or read a book before you put the lights off.
  3. Do good: donate your stuff that has been sitting in your cupboards forever without being used to either a charity, or give something to someone that will use it.  According to Linda decluttering and giving things away releases a feel-good hormone called oxytocin.  Knowing unused things are used and appreciated by someone else can be a very satisfying feeling.
  4. Clear the kitchen:  having too many things in the kitchen can easily deter someone from cooking a healthy meal and, instead opt for a quick, unhealthy fast food meal.  Clear the countertops in the kitchen; have a designated area where you put your keys, for example, and pack away things that are not supposed to be in the kitchen.  In an article I read recently, the lady said that she steered clear of the kitchen most of the time because it wasn’t functional.  In her case, they saved money and redid the kitchen.  Now she loves cooking for her family and trying out new recipes.  Whether your kitchen needs a lick of paint or just some decluttering; a small / big change can make all the difference!
  5. Getting energised:  according to Feng Shui your home’s entrance can immediately influence your energy levels when you walk through the front door.  If this is where the schoolbags go, or the raincoats (for example), keep it neat (either in a cupboard, in a row or on a hook).  If you have a table at your entrance, keep it clean and the décor minimalistic.  A tidy home makes you feel content and safe; knowing that unscheduled visits are welcome!
  6. Feel more focused:  piles of paperwork can be a problem.  Many people say it is good to keep important account receipts for 5 years, then shred it.  When it comes to magazines and newspapers, Cory suggests finish reading them before you buy a new one.  If there is information in that you want to keep, make a folder and tear out only the page(s) you want to read again. Clearing out will give you an instant lift and “clear your head.”

Marie Kondo, author of Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying, suggests that you must ask yourself if something sparks joy.  Hold an item with both hands, have a good look at it and pay attention to how your body reacts to it.  If it doesn’t bring you joy, your body will feel heavier. 

Another tip is to keep similar items together (glassware in one cupboard, plates in another).  Marie also suggests that you should have a filing system for your home-paperwork (as you would in the office).  Place the important ones like bills in a pending box / folder and the rest in another box / folder.  First sort out the ones in the pending box then start with the rest. 

If you don’t know where to start, start in one room and finish that one completely.  Place things in different piles: staying, not sure and giving away (throwing out).  Once everything has been sorted out and packed away, move on to the next room.  Families can do this together; thereby teaching children to be organized, neat and (as stated above), teaching them that you have power over things, not things over you!

There is no time like the present to start spring-cleaning…so better to start and get it done!  Good luck everyone!

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