A popular series on this site has been the Prepping Your House for Sale series. It seems that many people are thinking about selling their homes, either to downsize or payoff debt, or to find something bigger or more like their dream home.
I have been interested to see that by far the most pinned post of the series is the one entitled Declutter and Organize. We all get overwhelmed with our stuff, don’t we? I know I have. But in the process of getting ready to put the house on the market, I did quite a bit of paring down of our possessions. And surprisingly enough, what began as a temporary project to make my house look best for prospective buyers has turned into my preferred lifestyle. Decluttering has actually been a way to reduce stress in my life. Here’s why:
1) It’s WAY easier to keep the house clean.
This is significant for my quality of life, y’all, cuz you know how I hate to clean. Just a quickie pickup session every day (like 5-10 minutes tops) and the house looks mostly great. The only real cleaning I do regularly now is vacuuming and the bathrooms. I still tend to procrastinate about the big cleanup jobs; but when the house is picked up, the big cleaning needs don’t stand out as obviously, somehow. Works for me.
2) (Corollary to #1) Getting ready for a showing (or a visit from friends or family) is not an all-day affair.
It used to be that before someone came over I had to spend half the day just picking up, and THEN I had to do some major cleaning. Talk about stress — with a deadline! Now it’s just a quick pickup and a fast swipe through the bathroom. Ok, maybe there’s a little more to it than that, but it’s still much quicker than ever before. Which means that there’s that much more time to make myself beautiful — which at my age can take a LOT of time, lol. ;-)
3) It’s easier to find things.
How many times have I gotten incredibly stressed by not being able to find something?? TOO MANY. But when you have gone through every item you possess and have assigned it a place to live that makes sense in your own little brain, you tend to remember where it’s at. This also makes it easier to put things away. And doubly so, because the drawers and shelves are no longer stuffed to overflowing; so you don’t have to battle your own stuff to make room for the item you’re trying to put away. Win-win.
4) It’s easier for the kids to help with pickup and cleaning.
There are so many fewer decisions to make about where stuff goes when everything is organized and there isn’t too much of it. The kids can see where to put it away; and they don’t mind doing it as much, because there isn’t as much to do. Which means mom doesn’t get stressed out from having to repetitively nag about picking up this and that. (This may not apply to those of y’all still battling the tidal waves of Legos or Polly Pockets… although there is no law that says you have to purchase them in MONDO quantities, either… just sayin’…)
5) This is probably the MOST eye-opening one for me: I enjoy my house more.
In fact, I have come to the point of just REALLY loving it. You know that feeling when you have just painted the walls in a room, and it is the PERFECT color; and every time you walk into that room, you can’t help grinning? Because it just makes you happy? I feel that way about pretty much the whole house now. I know it — it’s pitiful that it has to be that way just now WHEN WE ARE TRYING TO SELL IT — but now I know that in my next house I won’t allow clutter to take hold.
Some of this may be a personal taste issue, but I feel like my house looks nicer now than it did with all the décor. It doesn’t seem bare to me; in fact, I feel like it looks more like a magazine than it ever has. Walking through it is a restful experience. My eyes and brain are not assaulted with lots to process. This is an EMOTIONAL difference. I am HAPPY in this home. Go figure!
6) I can concentrate better on other areas of my life.
It is suprising how much being surrounded by material clutter can bog down the mind. Is it too much sensory stimulation or something? I don’t know. All I know is I feel less anxious and weighed down in my being when I am not surrounded with a bunch of stuff. Which means I am more able to concentrate and be productive in those areas that I prefer to spend my efforts on, such as practicing piano, or writing for this blog, or discussing life with my teenagers. (That last one is stressful enough, let me tell you.)
7) I don’t miss what I’ve gotten rid of.
I don’t even REMEMBER what I’ve gotten rid of. Surprising, but true. That watchamacallit that you got from Aunt Zelda that you think you can’t live without? Put it in a box in the back of the closet, and see how often you really need it or notice that it’s not available any more. I bet for 90% of the items in the box, you won’t even think about them again. Less things to think about = less stress.
8) Decluttering has become a habit.
Now, when a particular drawer starts to get full or my stack of papers gets too large, it bothers me. It’s like a piece of dirt on my contact, the type of annoyance that makes you grit your teeth. And I can only live with it so long before I am sorting through it, throwing things out, and getting it back to easily livable. The stress comes from the lack of organization, and the lack of organization comes from having too much. Goodbye stuff = goodbye stress.
When you think about it, the fact that we are encouraged to show our homes with minimal possessions says something about what people like to see in a home. We all LIKE a home that is not cluttered, so why wouldn’t we want to LIVE in one? Making an effort to declutter our homes will reduce stress in the long run and make our homes pleasant places to be. And who doesn’t want that? :-)