What comes to mind when you think about spring cleaning? For most of us, it evokes a bit of anticipation (maybe even dread!). The task of freshening up our homes can feel huge. Today, tidying expert and The Joy Club teacher Hester Van Hien offers a fresh perspective on this seasonal process, shedding light on the broader benefits decluttering can offer us.
It’s March. Flowers are blooming, lambs are frolicking, and spring cleaning might be on your mind. As a Professional Organiser I help people to declutter and organise their homes. I might dust the occasional shelf or wipe down the insides of a cabinet, but proper deep cleaning is not part of what I do. My services are based on the method developed by Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo, and this is how she explains the difference between cleaning and tidying:
“Tidying is the act of confronting yourself; cleaning is the act of confronting nature.“
Cleaning versus tidying
In her book ‘Spark Joy’, Marie Kondo goes on to say: “Dirt accumulates of its own accord. It is a law of nature that dust and dirt pile up. Therefore, cleaning means confronting nature. Clutter accumulates when you fail to return objects to their designated place. If a room becomes cluttered ‘before you know it’, it is entirely your own doing.”
Tidying makes cleaning easier. Don’t you find it annoying when you have to move stuff from the floor before you can hoover, or tidy away items from surfaces before you can dust? If you put your house in order by decluttering and organising it, you won’t have to do this anymore, or at least a lot less, so that you can quickly get on with (spring) cleaning. I don’t think there are many people who love cleaning, but I do think there are a lot of people who love the results of cleaning. The same goes for decluttering. You might not always enjoy going through all your items and deciding what to keep/discard, but you will probably feel very content when (smugly!) sipping a cup of tea in your ‘tidylicious’ home.
If you’ve attended my Joy Club Presents sessions, or read my previous blogs, you might remember that I recommend visualising your ideal lifestyle prior to starting your declutter journey (my first blog touches on this). This will motivate you to get started with decluttering, and keep going until everything is organised. In this blog, I will share with you some of the benefits of decluttering and organising, which will hopefully give you some extra motivation and inspiration.
Decluttering and organising your space can save you time. I’m going to quote Marie Kondo again, this time from her book ‘Joy at Work’: “Data shows that the search for lost things adds up to an average of one workweek per year per employee. In a span of four years, that comes to a whole month.” It’s not just at work that we waste time searching for items. According to a survey done by Ikea, the average time we spend looking for something at home is between 1 and 10 minutes. This might not seem too bad, but almost half of the respondents lost something at least once a week, making the total time wasted on looking for things approximately 6.5 months of our lives. A Matalan survey stated that women spend a year of their lives selecting their daily outfits. I think this time can be reduced when you have less clothes and only clothes that you truly like, organised in such a way that you know and see where all your clothes are.
Less mess stress
It is not just time you lose when you’ve got to look for stuff, it usually creates emotional stress too. We usually feel annoyed with ourselves, and if we live with someone, we might get a bit irritable with them too.
Reduce unnecessary spend and waste
Sometimes you are searching for an item but can’t find it, and you might buy a replacement. If this is the case, not having an organised home means it is costing you money. Buying replacements also creates unnecessary waste that damages the environment.
Mental and physical health benefits
Clutter can adversely affect our mental and physical health, explains Marie Kondo in her book ‘Joy at Work’. When surrounded by clutter, our brains can be so busy registering everything around us, that it increases our levels of cortisol. Chronically high levels of this stress hormone can make us more susceptible to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other mental health disorders, as well as stress-related physical disorders such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Living, and working, in a clutter-free space can make us feel calmer, better able to relax, and more focused and in control.
Couples therapy or decluttering?
Decluttering can improve our relationships. When you live with someone and you’re fed up with their clutter, try working through your own belongings first. Tidying can be contagious, and in a lot of instances, the other person will start discarding their items too. If not, fear not. When you’ve put your stuff in order, you might find that your clutter threshold increases and that you’re less bothered by other people’s clutter.
So to sum up, decluttering and organising your home has lots of positive side effects as it can save you time, money and the environment, improve your relationships, and benefit your mental and physical health. Also, it can make spring cleaning a lot easier, leaving you more time to enjoy the blooming flowers and frolicking lambs!
What did you think of Hester’s tips? You can share your questions, comments and advice for decluttering your home below!