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Clutter Here, Clutter There… Clutter, Clutter Everywhere! What Clutter Actually Does to the Brain?

Katya Bowd

Posted on May 31 2017

Bandwidth. It’s the perfect description of the way the brain handles life in general. A person can only handle so many activities, decisions, calculations, etc. at any given moment because of the bandwidth available with which to handle them. When it comes to home organisation, this is really the reason it’s worth the effort to make changes and improve how we manage our living spaces. It doesn’t take any effort to let things get disorganised, but the result is that everything else we have on our plate then requires more bandwidth. And, let’s face it when small kids are added to the equation, every ounce of decision-making, will-power, clarity, and energy is necessary for their care. So the less bandwidth we expend trying to manage clutter in the home, the better.

Organising your home involves taking the time to implement a more holistic approach to everyday life. Entropy, the natural progression from order to chaos, happens when we live day in and day out focusing only on what is urgent rather than what is effective. It is difficult to do anything by design when it feels like we are constantly putting out fires, but this is exactly how we need to orchestrate our efforts – by design. If it seems like you spend all of your time trying to get organised, let alone stay that way, then perhaps it’s time to become a little more ruthless in your endeavours. Why? Because, in reality, it takes more energy to live in chaos than it does to be organised. If something does not contribute to an enjoyable or necessary activity, why own it and therefore have to maintain it? If an over-abundance of decor requires constant rearranging to “make room” for necessities, is there really any aesthetically pleasing design behind the result? It’s amazing just how much a lack of organisation really ends up draining our energy with unproductive activity throughout the day. But the chaos can develop so easily and snowball so quickly – especially when the kids are small – that it takes over before you know it, and little to nothing is being done by design.  But, fear not. This is a very breakable cycle. With these tips on decluttering and a lot of determination, your home can start to feel like an inviting haven of breathing space, function, and beauty.

Design your home around your lifestyle.

If home is where the heart is, then it stands to reason that our home should be the place we love to spend our time. But too often we allow so much into our homes that really shouldn’t be there in the first place, that it doesn’t feel like we have room to stretch out, relax, and just be. And that’s what we are looking for in our homes, isn’t it? So the first part of getting this cluttered lifestyle under control… is to really identify what lifestyle you want, to begin with! Do you love to have people over for dinner or parties? Or is your home the escape from the world when you need your space?

Do you have pets? Do you own a business? Start really taking stock of the way your family needs your home to function. Then, figure out what possessions contribute to that cause. Be ruthless! The items in our home that we find ourselves moving from place to place because we need to “get it out of the way” are the very things consuming our time and energy unnecessarily. This is called clutter. It can’t be optimised, organised, or made useful – so we expend significant time just trying to figure out what to do with it. That’s bandwidth we can’t afford to waste on such an unworthy activity! So it’s time to start doing things differently.

Design each room to have a purpose.

Beyond just an overview of your home as it pertains to your lifestyle, it also helps to go room by room and make notes of just how each room contributes as well. Each room has a primary function. The items in each room should facilitate the primary function of the room, not hinder it.

The bathrooms should not also serve as a library, storage unit or catch-all for outdated lotions and potions. Identify the things that you love to use for getting ready for the day – EVERYDAY. The stuff that only gets used once in a great while can have a home in a closet or shelf in a different part of the house. But the bathroom is such a high-traffic area, the best tip for decluttering here is to only let items that are actively in use every day live there.

The bedrooms should be a space focused on relaxation and preparation. It’s possible to establish a super efficient morning routine when the bedroom is not grand-central station with everything from bill-paying to laundry services having happened there the day before. It should also not be considered a dumping ground for things without a home. Granted, we’ve all done it – unexpected guests show up and we kind of shove the clutter from the living room back into the bedroom and close the door as quickly as we can. But this is the start of a vicious cycle: decreasing the quality of your sleep because the environment is no longer relaxing, and impeding the morning after because it’s difficult to find necessities for getting ready.

So what do you do with things that don’t have a home? They can’t go in the kitchen – again, such a high traffic room needs to be kept clear of things that don’t contribute to the purpose of food preparation and quality interaction with family and friends. The kitchen can be a central hub for activity. While items in the kitchen may not have to fit the category of “items used every day,” they should certainly qualify as items you love to use. Sometimes we purchase items that seem novel, useful, and priced right – just to have it go unused for five years. This leads to our next decluttering tip!

Spend your money intentionally.

“A place for everything, and everything in its place,” Grandma used to say. This is such a critical component of effective home organisation. Call it “preventative decluttering.” We must reverse engineer our spending habits to prevent clutter from coming into the home to in the first place. Even items that are handed down or picked up for free need to have a specific contribution to your family’s desired lifestyle. If hunting for freebies or avid garage-sailing is your family’s thing – great! Finding a bargain can feel awesome. Unless the items you find inhibit the flow of your home by taking up precious real-estate needed for the things you love and use everyday. That’s how lost keys and cellphones happen – important items are unintentionally evicted from their homes to make room for something we didn’t originally plan to buy anyway. So before bringing anything home, regardless of how great a deal it seems to be, take a moment and think about where it is going to live in your home. Will it have its own place?

If in the moment you pick it up and check the price tag, the ideal place and use for it is not shining brightly in your mind, consider the bandwidth it will take to find a place for it when it becomes necessary to reorganise and accommodate its presence in your home. This is your best defense against chaos and unnecessary work, not to mention overspending. Clutter really does reduce our quality of life. It’s worth the time and energy to regularly evaluate what is in our homes and what is coming into them. Intentionally let go of the excess to free up bandwidth for something much more important – life.

What other decluttering tips have made it easier to manage your living space? Share them with us below!