Is your stuff bringing you down? The cost of clutter

Last week, I was helping a client transform her spare room filled with moving boxes into an arts and crafts haven.

Until then, walking by the room was dreadful for my client. “Where do I start?” was a big question and it was just easier to keep the door shut. Yet, she could feel the impact the room had on her, even with its door closed. It brought her down. You should have seen the smiles on her face at the end of our session. Her spirits are high and she’s now all set to start her first sewing project.

How is your stuff bringing you down? What are you paying while living with clutter?

None of us are born with a cluttered mind. But we accumulate too many things we don’t use or need. In Germany, the average home has 100,000 things. In the US, it’s even more – 300,000. What do you do with them? If you’ve ever heard about the 80-20 rule at work, it can also be applied at home. We only use 20% of the things we own. 80% of our belongings are not used. So why keep them?

  • It’s been proven that clutter contributes to decreased productivity, makes us feel uncomfortable and lowers our mood. In more severe cases, clutter can also contribute to depression which in turn leads to fatigue and lack of motivation.
  • Numerous surveys have shown that living in a cluttered and disorganised home increases anxiety and stress levels, regardless of where respondents are in the world.
  • 84% of Americans are worried that their homes weren’t clean or organised enough (Huffington Post). The thought of having unannounced visitors over becomes a nightmare for them. They are avoiding guests, which can impact their friendships.
  • A cluttered bedroom messes with your sleep. It reduces the quality of your sleep, contributing to feeling not rested, tired and more stressed during the day.
  • According to the US Department of Energy, 32% of people with a 2-car garage can only park one car in it. 25% of people can’t park any of their cars in it. That’s 1 in 4 two-car garages being filled with stuff!

The cost of clutter

  • While homes are getting bigger (tripled over the last 50 years), there’s an increasing trend to rent storage offsite. In the US, it’s the fastest growing commercial real estate segment over the last 4 decades! Just think how much that extra storage costs you every month!
  • Clutter can delay the sale of your house. Realtors around the world are nowadays recommending to remove excessive personal items (e.g. family pictures). While some people may have a different feeling towards collecting knick-knacks, store them away when putting your house on the market. Nobody wants to see a room like this one:
  • Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items. Phones, keys and paperwork are at the top of the list of the 198,743 items we lose in our lifetime.
  • How many late fees have you paid? Missing the payment date, not knowing where the bill is, writing the check but not mailing it? It all adds up. Think of what you could do with the money instead.

After a cluttering session and setting up a system which works for you, housekeeping is reduced by 40%. You could use this free time, more energy and saved money in so many other ways: Spending it with your friends and family, playing a sport or reading a book, discovering your city, planting new flowers in your garden, volunteering in your community, going on a holiday and so on.

Is your clutter worth all this? What small step are you taking today to make a start?

Until next time,

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