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If you are feeling overwhelmed by the clutter within your home, you are not alone. A recent survey found that, “…54 percent of America [is] overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have, but 78 percent have no idea what to do with it or find it too complicated to deal with, so they let it build up…” In fact, the clutter problem has become so pronounced that the average American home has over 300,000 items in it, most of which have never even been used!

Some experts attribute an increase in the number of items Americans have within their homes to the convenience of online shopping, while others say that “American Consumerism” and the need to always have the best and latest drive families to continuously buy. Time Magazine’s feature, “America’s Clutter Problem” found both to be true, but stated there is a deeply rooted psychological component that cannot be overlooked.

About 1 in 6 Americans suffers from an anxiety disorder for a variety of reasons, “…something that appears to be not only a cause of our stuffocation but also an effect. To alleviate feelings of anxiety, many of us shop, an act that has been shown to release dopamine in the brain, giving us a temporary feeling of euphoria. It’s a sensation that we want to keep reliving, a sensation that can lead to overconsumption. But those anxious feelings can all come creeping back again once we get home and have to deal with all the stuff we’ve already bought.” 

It would be one thing if all our possessions were making us happier, but the opposite seems to be true. Americans are more stressed than ever before, and clutter may be the cause! Here are 3 simple tips to help you get organized:

1.) Prevent cleaning paralysis by starting small, picking one section of your home at a time to tackle, rather than an entire room or floor. This isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. Pace yourself so that you can make it to the finish line!

Target a small area within your home and spend 15-30 minutes a day sorting items into keep, donate, and discard piles. As a general rule of thumb, if you have a genuine plan or purpose for an item within the next 3 months, keep it. If you don’t, but believe someone else could use it, donate it to a local non-profit organization. And, if you won’t be using it and don’t believe anyone else can, toss it! The more you do this, the easier it will become, so start with one section (such as a closet or a dresser), pick up steam, and go from there!

2.) Consider renting a self-storage unit for items that you do not need on a regular basis, or that simply won’t fit within your home. Various sizes and amenities are available in almost every neighborhood, all at an affordable price!

Storing items such as sports equipment, seasonal clothing, and holiday decor at home can be a challenge, especially if you are living in a small space. Rather than taking up much needed room for items you need on a daily basis, renting a storage unit can provide you with the square footage you need for larger ticket items. Most self storage facilities offer move-in specials for new renters, with climate-control and 24/7 security. Some locations even provide drive-up access, making loading and unloading a breeze!

3.) It is important to keep the momentum going, spending just a few minutes each and every day tackling high-traffic, clutter-prone areas. Doing so will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed, alleviating unnecessary stress long-term.

Once you have cleared an area out, continue the decluttering process by spending just a few minutes each day tackling sections of your home that you tend to dump belongings. This will help relieve the anxiety and stress that comes from seeing a mess get out of control. With various cleaning programs and schedules available online, keeping your home clean and clutter free is a project the whole family can be a part of as you move forward.

By purging items you no longer need, renting a self storage unit for items you do, and working to maintain the progress you have made, your home will be a sanctuary that alleviates stress-instead of being the cause of it.

To the newly organized, happy, and clutter-free you!