Why Clutter is Bad

the effects of clutter

Today more than ever, there is data is being collected on us about our homes and our shopping and spending habits.

Research is confirming one obvious fact: we own a lot of ‘stuff’.

We often feel it in the weight and burden of clutter and mess. Our toy rooms are messy, our drawers don’t close properly, our kitchen is a collection point for piles of paperwork and our guest room is often filled with items that won’t fit within their assigned cupboard. If this is you, you’re not alone.

A study by The Australia Institute, Stuff Happens, found that while four in ten Australians feel anxious, guilty or depressed about the clutter in their homes, women in particular find clutter distressing.

They don’t necessarily have more clutter than men (the average suburban garage would attest to that) but they tend to notice it more. Women are also more embarrassed by their clutter than men. And while some people are ok with having ‘too much’ according to the survey, clutter can have some negative effects on people.

Figure 1 Which areas or rooms in your home would you describe as cluttered?

Unused things cluttering up our homes

Source: The Australian Institute, Stuff Happens: Unused things cluttering up our homes

It’s important to note that the actual items that comprise clutter are extremely varied, and depend on the circumstances and personalities within each household but according to The Australian Institute  we’re predominantly looking at four types of clutter.

The 4 Types of Clutter:

Emotional Clutter

Sentimental items with little financial value – including children’s toys or drawings, (unused or unwanted) gifts, school or uni/TAFE notes, and personal possessions of absent loved ones.

Just-in-case Clutter

This includes bits and pieces with little or no sentimental value but that ‘might come in handy one day’ and that are therefore kept for some time, such as old bills or bank statements, tools and stationery.

Bought Clutter

Impulse purchases, often acquired recently, that end up never being used, commonly including clothes, fashion accessories, gifts and books.

Bargain Clutter

Free or very cheap things acquired at sales, from friends or family or ‘by the side of the road’ which are discarded only reluctantly because they were so cheap.

Whatever combination of clutter you may have within your home, it could be having a negative effect on you or members of your family.

Lets take a closer look:

1. The Physical Effect

  • Suffer from allergies? Aside from being a fire and trip hazard, clutter creates additional surfaces for dust mites, dander, mould and other allergens to prosper. With your culled items grouped and placed within an assigned ‘home’ you decrease the chance of creating a germ haven.
  • Clutter depletes you of energy with its overwhelming presence. It’s a fact, as soon as people start to control their clutter they begin to take better care of themselves.
  • Can’t find your work shoes? Where did you put that briefing? Where is that school note with the school excursion details on it? With clutter, comes disorganisation; and it’s going to make you run late.

2. Effects on Mental Health

  • Rather than throwing away, recycling, selling or giving away the unwanted or unused things in our homes, we often let them accumulate; and it’s having an effect on our mental health.
  • If you’re constantly navigating clutter you’re likely to feel frazzled, out of control, guilty, anxious and overwhelmed.
  • Furthermore clutter is known to increase stress; strengthen procrastination; weaken decision-making skills and prevent you from really living in the moment. Starting somewhere small is key to overcoming clutter! If you can reduce that feeling of overwhelm, you’ll be much happier and more motivated.

3. The Cost Crunch

  • Being disorganised will cost you more than a little time searching for your car keys. With paperwork found in piles spread throughout multiple rooms, you’re more likely to pay late fees (and re-connections!) on certain bills.
  • Similarly when it comes to food, if you’re uncertain exactly what you’re storing in your pantry at any given time, you face the cost of buying duplicates and triplicates of certain food items (not to mention the cost of waste thanks to those food items that can be found at the very back of your cupboard, out of date).
  • With your wardrobe in a mess and therefore “nothing to wear” to your next night out, it’s probable you’ll duck out and buy something last minute (at full cost!); oh, and where are those gift vouchers you were given? They’re surely about to expire and are nowhere to be found! You get the drift…. There is a financial cost to clutter.

So while we’ve highlighted why clutter is bad – where should you from here?

Howards suggests applying our Stop, Sort & Solve methodology to your problem area and ridding yourself of clutter for good.

howards philosophy

Stop

Your primary task is to identify the issue that needs resolving. Whether it’s lack of storage, a cluttered pantry, an under-performing home office or an inefficient laundry, this is the point when you ask yourself, what could be better organised? Stop and assess the situation.

Sort

This is possibly the most important stage of the ‘cutting clutter’ process and it’s time to get your hands dirty. Your secondary task will involve emptying out the contents from your problem area, grouping similar objects, discarding unwanted or unused items and double ups and finally, prioritizing those items that you readily use.  It’s important to be ruthless here. It’s at this point that some people require the help of a professional organiser. Whether it’s ‘Emotional, ‘Just in Case’, ‘Bought’ or Bargain’ clutter we’re dealing with, sometimes we just need encouragement or permission from someone else to rid ourselves of certain items.

Solve

Stage three, choose from over 3000 storage solutions at Howards.
Our staff are organisation experts so if you need ideas, visit us at your local store.
Alternatively, view our range online at hsw.com.au or find inspiration via our articles, makeovers and videos, where we show you our solutions in-situ.

Start today with a decision to cut clutter from your home, one project, room or drawer at a time.

Stop

Sort

Solve

For more Clutter Busting inspiration, view our interview with Organisation Expert; Helen Butler from Clutter Rescue

Acknowledgements:

© Copyright Howards Storage World, 2016.

Accurate as at August 2016.