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Does your home feel as if it’s being taken over by stuff? You’re not alone.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Organizers, 54 percent of Americans are “overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have” and a total of “78 percent have no idea what to do with it or find it too complicated to deal with so they let it build up, taking over their homes and offices.”

With statistics like that, it’s no wonder people are feeling more stressed today than ever before. In fact, Sherrie Borg Carter, Psy. D., states in Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies that, “Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”

While people may become overwhelmed at the thought of getting their home organized, finding a way to maximize space and minimize stress is as simple as sorting your items into three separate categories… Keep. Donate. Discard.

Items to Keep

If you have used it within the last 6 months and can envision yourself using it again in the not too distant future, place the item aside for safe keeping. If the item is something that is particularly large or seasonal, consider renting a self-storage unit nearby so that you can keep your home spacious for items you need on a daily basis. This is especially helpful if you live within a small apartment or tiny home. Remember, your storage unit isn’t to be used as a place to keep items you don’t need, only items you genuinely do, so be sure to keep it organized!

Items to Donate

If you cannot envision yourself using an item within the next several months, but believe it can be of use to someone in need, consider donating it to a local charity. Besides helping out members of your community, donating items to non-profit organizations may help lower your tax bill, which is always an added benefit. Be sure to speak with a tax professional to see how your taxes may be affected.

Items to Discard

The British Psychological Society states that there is, “Stuff everywhere. Bags, books, clothes, cars, toys, jewellery, furniture, iPads. If we’re relatively affluent, we’ll consider a lot of it ours. More than mere tools, luxuries or junk, our possessions become extensions of the self. We use them to signal to ourselves, and others, who we want to be and where we want to belong. And long after we’re gone, they become our legacy. Some might even say our essence lives on in what once we made or owned.”

The problem is, your value is not determined by the amount of stuff you own, but rather, by your own heart towards yourself and others. So, if you don’t have use for it and no one else will, toss it—and don’t think twice! You can’t take anything with you when you go… if you don’t throw it out now, someone else will!

In the words of Maya Angelou, “Somehow, we have come to the erroneous belief that we are all but flesh, blood, and bones, and that's all. So we direct our values to material things.”

You are more than that.

Keep. Donate. Discard. It’s that simple.

To your newly spacious, stress-free home!