Creating a Life Free From Chaos

How Clutter Zaps Your Energy and How to Get That Energy Back

How Clutter Zaps Your Energy and How to Get That Energy Back

I’ve been thinking about clutter and energy lately, and how the two are so closely linked. When my house is cluttered or dirty, I feel drained. When the clutter is clear and the house is clean, I feel renewed and energized. If you’re finding yourself constantly low on energy, take a look at your surroundings. Is your home or workspace cluttered or dirty? Is your to-do list a mile long? Is your brain on constant overload? Do you feel overwhelmed? Answers to those questions could be hints pointing to potential energy zappers.

Physical Clutter

A house full of excess stuff can be depressing and energy-draining, even when the stuff includes really nice things or things you love. Few things zap my energy as much as clutter. I can literally feel the energy seep out of me when I’m standing in a packed room.

Psychologically, a room full of stuff has less room for people, so you may feel crowded and out of place. Your eyes are constantly scanning the room, trying to put the pieces in place, and with little space for your eyes to rest, the scene can exhaust you. Seeing all that stuff reminds you of all the tasks you feel you “should” be doing — sorting, organizing, dealing with all that stuff.

Not only does the clutter deplete your energy, but it also consumes precious time. People who live with clutter often spend time each day looking for lost items, such as keys, shoes, wallets, important papers. Even when the item is right where it’s supposed to be, it can be visually lost in a sea of other things.

Clearing away the clutter brings immediate visual peace to a space, and that by itself can give you an energy boost. Keep a donation or get-rid-of box in the garage, a spare room, or by the door, and get in the habit of dropping in items you run across that you’re not using or you don’t like. Fill up those trash cans and recycle bins. Find places for items you use and love to “live” so you always know where to look for them. No one expects your home to be clutter-free all the time, but you do need to be able to find what you need when you need it.

Dirty Surroundings

Much like physical clutter, being in a dirty room can drain your energy and put you on edge. A sink full of dirty dishes reminds you that you should wash them. A pile of dirty laundry reminds you that there’s washing, drying, folding, and putting away that needs to be done. Every room carries those visual reminders of all the cleaning chores that need to be done, and it’s grueling just thinking about it.

Having guests over becomes exhausting — you don’t want anyone to see your home dirty or cluttered, so you spend hours cleaning and stashing stuff before you allow friends or family to come to visit. If you feel like your home is too dirty, you may be so tired just thinking about the cleaning that you decide it’s not worth the energy to have people over.

Nothing energizes me quite like a clean house. If the grunge in your home is getting to you, take a day or a weekend to really deep clean your home, then develop a clean-as-you-go mentality. Get in the habit of washing dishes right away, putting dirty clothes in the hamper and running laundry regularly, vacuuming and sweeping frequently, and cleaning up food spills or dirt as they happen. Once your home is clean, maintaining it takes minimal effort.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you can afford it, having a house cleaner or maid service come in once or twice a month is pure heaven, because it takes that mental load of “when am I going to clean this?” off your mind. Asking your spouse and kids for help is also incredibly important. If there are other people living in the home, it’s their responsibility to help maintain it. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Mental Clutter

Tasks that are undone can drain your energy just as much as physical clutter can. When you have to-dos and tasks that are unfinished, they continually distract you, often sapping more energy than it would take to finish the tasks in the first place.

Procrastinating consumes so much energy because not only is your brain worrying about finishing the task, new to-dos are piling up on top of the unfinished ones. Just thinking about how much you have to do can drain you.

While having a packed schedule may seem the norm these days, the energy drain is just too much to pay. Go over your to-do list and calendar and see which tasks and commitments can be delegated or dropped altogether. Try these tips for keeping a simplified to-do list. Learn to say no to tasks that aren’t vitally important and that don’t bring you joy, and protect your time like the precious resource it is.

How Clutter Zaps Your Energy and How to Get That Energy Back

The Top 5 Mistakes You’re Making When You Declutter (and How to Fix Them)

The Top 5 Mistakes You're Making When You Declutter (and How to Fix Them)

Have you ever started a decluttering project only to get frustrated and quit, feeling like you’re not making any progress toward that clean, tidy home you’re wanting? It can be disheartening to jump in with visions of clear, minimalist spaces only to wind up with stuff strewn all over the place and no plan for what to do about it. Decluttering is hard work, so before you dive back in, check your focus and make sure you’re not committing one of these decluttering mistakes. 

Mistake: Focusing on organizing over purging. 

Yes, we all want to “get organized,” but that’s not the same as decluttering. Organizing is not decluttering. When you’re organizing, you tend to focus more on how to store what you have, without giving much thought to whether you need or even want those items in the first place. 

We all want to “get organized,” but organizing is not the same as decluttering. Click To Tweet

Solution: Before you worry about organizing, spend the time to actually go through everything and decide what you really want to keep and what you can let go of. Don’t think of it as, “What can I get rid of?” Think of it more like, “Do I love this/use this enough to give it space in my home and spend my energy maintaining it?” Once you’ve gone through the decluttering process, then you can go back and organize the keepers — and it’s easier to organize when you have less stuff.

Mistake: Thinking that cleaning is decluttering. 

Similar to organizing, cleaning often distracts you from the focus of getting rid of stuff. With cleaning, you’re thinking about where dirt and grime are and how to make a space look clean and tidy. Maybe you drop clutter from the counters into drawers so you can wipe down the countertop. Maybe you start a load of laundry without looking at whether you want to keep the clothes you are washing. Maybe you’re rearranging trinkets on the mantle while you dust. 

Solution: Declutter an area before you worry about cleaning it. It’s so much easier to clean after you declutter — you won’t need to move items around to clean, and you won’t spend time stashing clutter instead of disinfecting and polishing.

Mistake: Purging other people’s stuff. 

This is one of the cardinal sins of decluttering — getting rid of other people’s stuff. If you take it upon yourself to purge a housemate or family’s member’s possessions without their permission, be prepared for a fight. Getting rid of other people’s belongings without their knowledge or consent is not cool. It’s not your stuff to get rid of. 

One of the cardinal sins of decluttering is getting rid of other people’s stuff. Don't do it. It’s not your stuff to get rid of.  Click To Tweet

Solution: Try talking to your family about why you want to declutter and encourage them to join in. Then go about your business decluttering your own stuff, whether the rest of the gang jumps in to help or not. Even if they’re not initially on board, they may be inspired to give it a try after seeing you take control of your own stuff. 

Mistake: Not getting your kids involved. 

When kids are very young, then it’s up to you to declutter clothes and toys on their behalf. However, as soon as they’re big enough to have preferences, it’s best to get them involved, even if it’s just a few little things here and there — a shirt that’s getting too small or a broken toy. Giving your kids choices about their belongings encourages them to value and take care of them. 

Solution: You may just want to offer a couple of choices when they’re little, but work up to giving them more control over their stuff as they get older. You’re not just trying to manage stuff — you’re teaching them how to manage their own stuff. Kids know when they’ve outgrown “baby toys.” Preteens and teenagers should be able to decide if they don’t like certain clothes and want to donate them, as well as deciding when they’re finished with books, CDs, or old toys. Modeling responsible decluttering from an early age makes it a normal part of maintaining a home. Your child won’t feel picked on (why are you getting rid of my stuff?) and they’ll understand that we all need to let things go over time. 

Giving your kids choices about their belongings encourages them to value and take care of them.  Click To Tweet

Mistake: Not looking at the big picture. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re decluttering. So much stuff — where do you start? While it’s tempting to just dive into a junk drawer and start tossing, you’ll stall out quickly if you don’t have a plan. 

Solution: Take a few minutes to map out a plan of attack. I like to start with decluttering the bathroom since there isn’t that attachment to toiletries and cosmetics that you may feel with clothes or books. Group similar items together so you can get a feel for how much you have, and you’ll be better prepared to weed out the excess. It’s eye-opening to realize you have four half-empty bottles of shampoo and a dozen new tubes of body lotion because you probably didn’t notice them when they were scattered throughout the house. Similarly, pulling out all your clothes will help you see that you have five black t-shirts and 20 pairs of jeans, making it much easier to donate the ones you never wear while still feeling confident you have what you’ll actually use.

5 Mistakes You’re Making When You Declutter and How to Fix Them