I have never had a problem with clutter per se, it’s just how I’ve always lived. My desk is always covered in diaries, books, notebooks and other items, but I take comfort in knowing I can always find what I need.
Call it organised mess.
In fact, someone once said a true sign of a genius is a cluttered workspace – it was enablement 101 and music to my ears. But I had no idea how much of an impact living in a cluttered home can have on your health.
Neuroscientists at Princeton University conducted a study in 2011 that found being surrounded by physical clutter competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.
A few years later, this was backed up by researchers at UCLA who found the stress hormones of mothers spiked during the time they spent dealing with cleaning and picking up household stuff.
No wonder that stray piece of LEGO that lodges in the bottom of your foot makes even the most placid parent blow their top.
While this was all news to me (and a reminder that I could throw away those old notes from my 2015 interviews) it is something Tash Longden Brown sees the effects of every day.
Mrs Longden Brown is a declutter and organising consultant, whose business Passionate Living is dedicated to helping mothers reclaim their sanity by transforming their homes from chaos to calm.
The Palmwoods mother of five admits that when she started her business four years ago, she had no idea how much of an impact she would have simply by helping people to remove stuff they no longer need around their home. “The idea came when I was running a bookkeeping business that led to me offering to organise people’s office setups, clean up their books for them and place more order around them,” she says. “I kept getting comments like, ‘I wish you could do that with my wardrobe’. I love doing that sort of stuff, so it grew from there.
“When I first started going into client’s houses, some of them would be shaking with nervousness when I arrived; they were having a physical reaction to it all. But once we decluttered and their place was transformed, they had a lightness about them and their whole demeanour was uplifted. It’s like all this stress and pressure has been taken away.
“I’m all for self-care and getting massages and getting the nails done, but if you are doing it to de-stress and then come home, that crap is still everywhere in your house and you are back in the cycle of stress again. I’m all for declutter therapy.”
While some may think maintaining a tidy home eats into precious time, the reality is having a messy home is much more time-consuming. It takes longer to clean when you get motivated, it takes longer for you to find what you need and this leads to stress and a sense of overwhelm when we are already so busy with other aspects of life.
“People want time now more than they want money,” Mrs Longden Brown says.
“When you have a cluttered home, it takes longer to clean and to find things, which compounds your stress and overwhelm. In this state of anxiety, we lose ourselves and our family values in the process.
“Simply being strong and decluttering, then maintaining it, will give time and energy back to families.”
International bestselling author and Netflix presenter Marie Kondo stormed onto the scene with her strong message of keeping only things in your home that spark joy, a key component of her teachings on how to decide what stays and what goes when focusing on tidying up.
Mrs Longden Brown says she has developed a more numerical process for those more analytical minds. She calls it the SOL value – Strength of Love. This is a rating between zero and 10 you can place it on everything in your home. The value takes into consideration how happy the item makes you and how practical and functional it is in your everyday life.
“Everything in your home should be rated an eight or higher. If you think that everything radiates energy, you want that energy to be full of love in your home,” Mrs Longden Brown says.
“The favourite top you always wear would be a nine out of 10. That coffee mug that you select from the cabinet full of mugs and use every day would be a 10 out of 10.”
Not only is going through the process of decluttering about creating space for you and the family, but Mrs Longden Brown says it is a great way to become a more conscious shopper. “I encourage people to not ever look at the price tag when they go shopping. For most people, the money value is the be-all and end-all. If it’s on sale, it’s good value for money, so people buy it. But when you go shopping with the SOL value in mind, you will approach it very differently,” she says.
Mrs Longden Brown says she has made some of her workshop participants nervous when she serves them tea and coffee in her antique Royal Doulton and Royal Albert tea sets, handed down from her grandmother and mother. But she is unapologetic about using the things she loves in her home, ensuring they are functional, not simply sitting there collecting dust.
“Wear your best clothes every day and feel amazing. Wear your best makeup every day, use the beautiful things in your home and be the best version of you every day,” she says. “Because you are feeling good within yourself, the anxiety and overwhelm disappears.
“When you begin purposeful shopping, it’s important to remember that you don’t need two of everything. So every time you come back from shopping with a new dress, a new top, or a kitchen gadget, you have to pick one to go. It’s all about maintaining this new environment you have created and not allowing your stuff to build up to stressful levels once more.”
When it comes to decluttering with children, Mrs Longden Brown knows it’s not as simple as sitting them in their room and asking them what they want to keep and what they want to give. It’s about instilling the SOL value in them as opportunities arise.
“Children under the age of 10 often don’t have a concept of the value of things. An example I used with my girls is that they wanted a PlayStation 2, which at the time cost around $300. They really wanted it, so I asked them to work together to give me seven shopping bags of stuff from their bedrooms to exchange for the console.
“It was an easy task for them because their SOL value of the PlayStation was so high. They have the mentality that they are getting something bigger and better, so therefore they are more prepared to part with some of the things that don’t excite them as much anymore.
“When they get to teenage years, they know the value of their items and often have jobs of their own, so you can start to negotiate on decluttering some of their old items and contributing financially towards buying it as well.”
People often underestimate the time it takes to declutter a home and Mrs Longden Brown says you should avoid thinking you can declutter your home in a single day.
“I have done hundreds of homes across the Sunshine Coast and almost everyone can’t go past three-hour blocks because it’s so emotionally draining,” she says. “Start small and pick a single thing to focus on. Some people love to clear their clothes first, I like my kitchen being done because it is the heart of the home. Even then, start with a single drawer or the Tupperware cupboard and give yourself plenty of time to complete the task.
“Don’t be hard on yourself for the mess that you find, we all do it, just know that once you get rid of all of the crap, you will be able to see your beautiful furniture and be able to admire the beautiful things you already have in your home that make you happy.”
Marie Kondo is the author of the international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which is based on her systematic decluttering process of discarding everything that does not “spark joy” or provide a service.
Most of us were showered with Christmas gifts, some of them potentially unwanted. Marie Kondo shares her tips for what to do with those gifts that don’t “spark joy”.
The scarf you got from your office Secret Santa that’s currently stuffed in your wardrobe. The throw pillow your aunt gave you a year ago that doesn’t match your home decor. The city-themed mug your neighbour brought home from his travels that still sits in its box. What do all these items have in common?
They are all gifts that someone used precious time to pick out and purchase for you. They are expressions of love and kindness, but they don’t suit your taste. You don’t want to donate them just yet, but you also shouldn’t shove these gifts into a cupboard. Surely the people who gave them to you don’t want you to stow away the gifts without using them. So what should you do? Here are three simple rules for making the most of gifts you receive:
Rule 1: Open them immediately.
Rule 2: Remove the packaging.
Rule 3: Start using them now.
Try out every gift at least one time – even those that don’t immediately spark joy. The ability to feel what truly excites you is only gained through experience. Be adventurous and welcome things that are different. The more experience you gain, the more you’ll refine and heighten your sensitivity to joy.
However, you don’t have to keep using the gift forever. If you try using the item and decide that it still doesn’t suit you, thank it for the joy it brought when you first received it – and bid it farewell.
The true purpose of a present is to be received, because gifts are a means for conveying someone’s feelings for you.
When viewed from this perspective, there is no need to feel guilty about parting with a gift that doesn’t spark joy.
Source: This story was first published by KonMari Media Inc. Link: https://konmari.com/gifts-that-dont-spark-joy/
5 decluttering tips
- Start with smaller jobs, even a single cupboard. Once you clear out the cupboard, clean it and replace the ‘keep’ items. You will instantly feel like you have accomplished something.
- Decluttering is emotional, so try not to do it for more than three hours at a time.
- Declutter for today. Don’t save the jeans you looked awesome in when you were 21. Wear beautiful jeans that suit your body now.
- If you are unsure whether to keep some items, put them into a box marked ‘donations’ in the garage. If you don’t go back into the box to use them or get them out within three months, take the whole lot to the op shop.
- Only donate good-quality items.
Source: Tash Longden Brown, Passionate Living