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Why Your Clutter Is Making You Sick + How To Get Rid Of It, Fast

Jo Hartley
May 17, 2016
Jo Hartley
Written by
Photo by Stocksy
May 17, 2016

If your home is filled with dishes in the sink, cupboards bursting at the seams, and bookcases straining under the weight of unnecessary junk, chances are you’re feeling more than a little overwhelmed.

In fact, according to experts, you may be irritable, angry, and tired because of it.

A study by the University of California revealed that clutter has a significant impact on our health and can cause physical, emotional, and mental harm. Similarly, researchers at Princeton University found that clutter negatively affects our ability to focus and process information.

Here are six ways to clear the clutter and make your home a space that supports your mental and physical health:

1. Adopt the "one in, one out" rule.

Abiding by the "one in, one out" rule is a great way to avoid unnecessary clutter.

For every one thing that you buy—whether it’s clothes, books, or a toy—throw a similar item out, give it away to a friend, or donate it to charity. This will help you keep your belongings down to a manageable number and make you question whether or not you really need to make new purchases in the first place.

2. Set aside five minutes a day.

Knowing where to start can feel overwhelming—start small by devoting five minutes a day to decluttering. Either focus on a particular area of a room, such as your desk, or conduct a quick whip around the home to return as many items as possible to their rightful homes.

3. Tackle your wardrobe.

Most of us are guilty of holding on to clothes for longer than we need to. At the start of each season, make it a habit to clear your closet of anything you no longer need. Be ruthless. If you haven't worn something in a year, donate it to charity so someone else can enjoy it. If a piece is damaged, throw it out or make it a priority to have it mended.

If you're having trouble paring your wardrobe down, give the "coat hanger rule" a try.

Hang all clothes up with coat hangers facing the same way. Each time you wear an item, return it to the wardrobe with the coat hanger facing the opposite way. It will soon become apparent which clothes need to go.

4. Create a sorting system.

When faced with more daunting decluttering jobs like entire rooms or large chests of drawers, put a specific sorting system in place. Buy a few storage boxes and label them "keep," "rid," and "store." Then, as you go through the room, allocate items to each box accordingly.

5. File regularly.

It's easy to fall behind on paperwork, and piles can quickly build up if we let them. Allocate five or ten minutes each week to throwing away your junk mail. Pay attention to any bills that you can request to receive electronically, and make the change immediately.

6. Rent or borrow.

Get into the habit of renting or borrowing home goods whenever possible, especially with one-off items that you won't use regularly.

Check out your local libraries for books and magazines, toy libraries for children, and online outlets for clothing rentals for special occasions. In doing so, you'll also be saving money, and that’s something that we can all feel great about.

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Jo Hartley author page.
Jo Hartley

Jo Hartley is a freelance writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She is currently residing in Newcastle, Australia with her husband, two sons, dog and cat. Jo is a regular contributor to Fairfax’s Essential Baby and Essential Kids sites. Her work has also been featured in SMH Life & Style, SMH Daily Life, Sunday Life, Body Soul, Practical Parenting, MiNDFOOD and many more. When Jo is not writing she can be found eating ice-cream straight from the tub and pondering her next weight loss journey.