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According to The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter, Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, has been studying clutter and the impact it has on emotional well-being. He found that, “If you have to move things around in order to accomplish a task in your home or at your office or you feel overwhelmed by all your ‘things,’ it’s a strong signal that clutter has prevailed. And it might be stressing you out more than you realize.”

With 1 in 4 Americans reportedly having a clutter problem, stress levels are on the rise, and clutter may be playing a part. In fact, Psychology Today reports 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.”

Stress can cause headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping, while worsening other health conditions. As such, finding ways to alleviate unnecessary stress is important to your overall well being. If you are ready to tackle the clutter (and stress) within your home, here are 4 simple tips to get you on the right track:

1.) Distribute the responsibility.

If you have children at home, let them know that the burden of keeping house doesn’t just fall on the adult(s). Everyone is responsible for your home’s upkeep and maintenance, and cleaning is a part of that. We recommend making a responsibility chart (that lists the grown ups, too), and assigning children age appropriate tasks. If the tasks are completed, consider a fun family activity you can each enjoy, such as a family pizza or ice cream night, or a fun family hike.

2.) Utilize the keep, discard, donate principle.

Pick out a small area of your home to take on each day, and ask yourself these 3 questions:

a.) Have I used this item within the past 3 months, or do I have a genuine plan or purpose for it over the next 3?
b.) If I don’t need this, can someone else make use of it?
c.) If “A” and “B” are a no, why am I holding onto this? (In other words, toss it, and don’t look back!)

You’ll be shocked at how many items you can get rid of. You’ll also be shocked to see just how organized you can get your closets and dressers once the clutter is gone!

3.) Take advantage of off-site storage opportunities.

Items such as seasonal décor or sports equipment take up large amounts of space and are only used a few times a year. By renting a local self-storage unit, you can maximize space within your home for items you need on a regular basis. Since storage units are climate controlled, and offer 24/7 security at an affordable price, you can rest assured that your belongings are safe (without breaking the bank)!

4.) Be proactive.

Break up your home into weekly zones, setting aside just 15 minutes per day to tackle problem areas that are clutter magnets (such as your entryway or garage). This way, clutter does not have the opportunity to build up, which will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes us happy.” By distributing responsibility, clearing out items you don’t need (and renting storage nearby for items you do), and some proactive upkeep, your home will be clutter and stress-free in no time! To the newly de-cluttered, and revitalized you!