Clutter anxiety? Here’s what to save and what to trash

by | Mar 11, 2019 | Blog, Home & Lifestyle

Clutter. It piles up on tables and floors, in corners and closets. It affects your efficiency, grates on your nerves— and if a study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology is on target, it can even affect you physiologically.

The study, according to The New York Times, looked at dual-income married couples with at least one school-aged child at home. “The wives in the study who perceived themselves as having a cluttered home or a home that needed work tended to have increased levels of cortisol [a stress hormone] throughout the day.”

We’ll get to the husbands’ responses another time (hint: most didn’t think their homes were cluttered!). The point is: clutter can be more than a mere distraction.

Don’t let clutter, particularly piles of paper that never seem to get filed, get the best of you. Professional home organizer and Houzz contributor Jeanne Taylor offers these tips on how to decide what to keep and what to trash:

Save in paper format:

  • Car loan documents (until the loan is paid off)
  • Title documents for the cars you currently own
  • Car repair and service records (you’ll need them when you go to sell the car)
  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Adoption papers
  • Marriage licenses
  • Divorce decrees
  • Estate plans
  • Social Security cards
  • Passports
  • Military discharge papers
  • Tax returns (save for 3-7 years, depending on your personal circumstances; ask your tax professional for the appropriate time period)
  • Medical notes and records for situations that remain unresolved (Taylor suggests it might also be beneficial to keep X-rays and MRIs from a former injury or illness for future reference.)

Trash the paper and go online

  • Bank, mortgage, investment and insurance statements, since with today’s digital records, you can always access these online. “If you’re not comfortable going paperless, I recommend that you keep your year-end statements but shred your monthly and quarterly statements,” notes Taylor.
  • Credit card statements
  • Utility bills (unless you need the paper copies for tax purposes)
  • Appliance manuals (Taylor notes that most appliances have a sticker inside the door with the model number, and care and use instructions and troubleshooting guides usually can be found on the manufacturer’s website.)
  • Explanation of insurance benefits (these can be found on the insurance website)

Save to an app or Google doc

  • Frequent flier numbers, jury duty records, and other miscellaneous items


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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