Whether you’re navigating the typical stresses of everyday life or, you know, a global pandemic, most of us are happy to do whatever we can to ease life’s stresses and feel a little better each day. And while activities like exercising, spending time with loved ones, and binging great shows are all popular stress-relievers, many people don’t realize that organizing and decluttering your home can reap some very real, science-backed benefits for your emotional health.
According to a 2009 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, a cluttered home was linked to homeowners feeling more depressed than those who live in an uncluttered space. And a 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience offers some insight into this link, finding that clutter can lead to too many stimuli in your environment, making it much harder to focus and relax. Plus, looking around a disorganized space can remind us of all the things we’ve been meaning to do but haven’t gotten to, which can create feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
That being said, when you’re already stressed, the thought of tackling a major home organization project can feel pretty overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be. The following tips will help you take a bite-sized approach to organizing, allowing you to start and finish the process without feeling totally overwhelmed.
First and foremost, start small. Deciding to organize an entire space at once is a fast-track to losing your motivation. Instead, pick one small area, such as a drawer or countertop, and commit to completing it. Chances are, once you get started, you’ll feel more motivated to keep going. But even if you don’t, that’s just fine—simply stick to one small area per day.
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The term “organization” is very broad, and a lot of us didn’t grow up in a home that taught us effective ways to organize. If you’re at a loss for what, exactly, it means to organize and where to even begin, then let the internet be your guide. Our post about organizers to follow on Instagram is a great start, but you can also search Pinterest for things like “organized pantry” or “organized bathroom” and you’ll pick up all kinds of little tips and tracks.
Not big on social media? Then check out books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo or The Home Edit: A Guide to Realizing and Organizing Your House Goals by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, both of which will teach you everything you need to live a clutter-free life.
Prep for Purging
If you know you’ve been hanging on to a lot of stuff that you don’t need, then grab three decent-sized boxes and write “Keep," “Trash,” and “Donate” on them. The rest of the process is pretty self-explanatory; simply pick an area of your home, like a closet, and go through your items, placing each in the appropriate box.
Invest in Containers
After purging your items, it's time to contain the ones you want to keep. One of the most difficult aspects of organizing is finding an appropriate place for different types of clutter. Do yourself a favor and invest in various containers in multiple sizes to ensure every item you own has a home. When you search, you’ll find that there’s truly a container for every organizing scenario, including drawer organizers, pantry containers, and closet dividers and organizers.
Use Your Walls
Many of us aren’t working with as much square footage as we’d like, which can make organizing a challenge, but certainly not a challenge you can’t overcome. Your best line of defense against clutter in a small space are your walls, namely wall shelves and hooks. Installing hooks and shelves is a simple and inexpensive way to add more storage without encroaching on precious square footage. It also gives you an opportunity to display aesthetic-enhancing knick-knacks and collections that might be taking up too much space elsewhere.
Looking for more unique home ideas? Head over to our Tipbook, which is full of top trends for enhancing your space, no matter your style or budget.