Clutter. It’s a weed that can spread through our homes so fast, we often feel overwhelmed trying to keep it in check.
Sometimes, it’s a sign of deeper issues, notes a recent New York Times article: “People are ‘oftentimes just so mentally and physically exhausted that they don’t feel like they have the energy to take care of themselves or their surroundings,’” a professor of psychology recently told the Times.
But we have all known the exasperation that comes from looking around a room and realizing there are more things on the floor than in the closet.
How to deal? The Times article offers these tips:
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing: Take aim at what needs to be cleared now in order for you to function well. For example, one woman told the Times she looks at a cluttered kitchen and thinks, “What do I need in the morning?” Then, “all of a sudden I can get specific.” She clears dishes from the counter to open space to make breakfast the next day, empties the trash, etc. “What feels like this big, unending task is actually just 20 minutes of my day.”
Find a place for the repeat offenders: It helps to discern “why things are where they are, why clutter is building up where it is, and then changing the design or the organization around how people are actually using their home,” interior designer Lenore Brooks told the Times. For example, notes the article, if you’re always finding pens discarded around the room, “think about designating a spot to keep the pens in the room where you’re actually using them.”
Set a timer to keep it clean: Once you’ve decluttered, keep it that way by setting aside time each day to clean. The Times article suggests setting a timer for as little as five or ten minutes every day toward the task. “I tell myself I don’t have to finish this task, but I’m going to get up for eight minutes and do it,” says one woman. “I’m usually surprised at how much I can get done.”
Don’t obsess: “The TV remote, your glasses, mail you need to sort, an art project you’re working on,” they aren’t signs of laziness, they’re signs of life. Recognize that some clutter simply comes with the territory and is entirely acceptable.