You walk into your house, and the feeling of despair rises as you wade through a never-ending ocean of Stuff, covering tabletops and oozing out of stuffed closets and drawers. You can no longer put it off: It is time to declutter.
The anxiety is natural. One in four Americans is drowning in clutter, and it costs time, money, and peace of mind.
Experts increasingly agree that a tidy home can be linked to a tidy mind. The addiction to buying more and more items has led to a struggle to declutter and make room for a happy life.
Instead, the surge of dopamine that lights up the reward center of our brain when we click ‘buy’ online, or throw an item of affordable fast-fashion into our basket, gives way to stress and a loss of control.
In recent years there has been an explosion in advice on how to tackle this overwhelming task. Tidying expert Marie Kondo, in her books and Netflix series, has brought a certain cheerfulness to the magic of cleaning up.
She swears by decluttering by category instead of location, and we are going to show you why this method will free you and your home from the mess.
What Is Decluttering by Category?
Many of us might decide to approach decluttering with one space or project at a time.
“Tidying this way will doom you to a life of clutter,” says Marie Kondo. Smaller projects may feel more manageable, but the key to a full deep-clean is to get a complete overview of what you have in your house.
Her KonMari method has its own set of specific categories: Clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items such as mementos from when your children were young.
But many others abound, and you can come up with your own lists or sub-categories. Maybe you want to focus on food or make-up or toys. It is up to you!
The idea is to take a look at everything you own under that specific category, no matter where it is in the house, in one place. Then you can proceed with discarding items and finding a new, more sustainable way to organize them.
Categories Will Focus You
Let’s face it, cleaning can be overwhelming, especially when you have let the chaos go on for too long. Not knowing where to start can leave you paralyzed before you even begin.
If you decide to start small, say by organizing one closet in your bedroom, you are likely to get distracted before moving on. Maybe you won’t be as motivated to get rid of excess clothing. You may feel you are never done tidying if you do some now, some next weekend, and some when you feel like it again.
Instead, make some space, maybe on your bed or in the middle of the floor, and go into every room, pulling out every item of clothing so you can sort through them. Do the same with the different categories you have created.
It may seem like there is a mountain to climb, but cleaning is good for you.
Choosing What to Throw Away
If you are decluttering by location, you might not get a clear overview of what you have. How many of us have a drawer dedicated to old charger cables? Do you keep buying batteries because you can never remember if you have any and where you put them?
Using categories will fix this for good. In Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, people faced with decluttering their homes are often astounded and even embarrassed by the number of things they have accumulated over the years.
Her approach is to look at each thing and see if it brings you joy. But you can also ask yourself how often you use the item, or even if you still really need it. With clothes, you can set a target for when you last wore it, and for kitchen utensils and appliances, how often you really use them.
Having everything in front of you will prevent you from keeping something you may already have that is hidden elsewhere in the house.
Helping You Organize
Another benefit of the category method is that it will help you keep things organized going forward, and even better, not lose things! Suppose every item has its specific place in the home, rather than being haphazardly placed somewhere in the moment. In that case, your cleaning will be much easier in the future.
What a dream.
Once you have created a pile of items to throw out, you can start organizing what is left, using creative storage containers. You can even use the opportunity to learn how to fold your clothes the right way. This will give you the opportunity to start afresh.
One study showed that women who felt anxious about the state of their homes had a higher level of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies.
Decluttering will help you feel more in control and focused.
Keeping It Clean
We would all have the time and energy to keep our house clean and take on a major decluttering project in an ideal world. But life gets in the way and sometimes you need added help to get it done.
If you need assistance in keeping your house clean, whether for regular maintenance or a top-to-bottom deep clean, reach out to us for a quote. This will free you up to spend time on things you actually want to do.