Clutter

Fact: Clutter Causes Stress. Solution: These 11 Daily Rituals.

When you’re feeling stressed or angry or exhausted, tackling housework is not your first instinct. (Tackling Ben & Jerry’s, on the other hand…) But did you know that clutter and disarray can actually magnify those emotions? Here are 11 ways to keep ahead of the mess — physical and emotional.

A woman folding white sheets on a bed, no longer overwhelmed by clutter
Woman with ADHD making bed and organizing home, white sheet, purple shirt

When you’re feeling blue or overwhelmed, it’s tempting to try to pick yourself up by indulging in a “treat.” One of my “treats” is the decision not to pick up after myself. Instead of trying to tidy up as I go, as I usually do, I let small tasks mount up.

“I can’t possibly be expected to do something silly like clean up clutter,” I tell myself. “I’m too busy/upset/rushed/overwhelmed. I deserve a break.”

The problem is that, in the end, the mess makes me feel worse. Maybe I get a tiny buzz from flinging my coat onto the hall floor, but the disorder makes my bad mood worse. Plus it’s not nice for anyone who lives with me. On the other hand, serene, orderly surroundings make me feel better. Outer order brings inner calm.

Now, instead of “treating” myself to a mess, I try to keep things tidy when I’m feeling low. Here are some tips to keep your surroundings uncluttered, no matter how you feel.

> Make your bed.

> Put your dirty clothes in the hamper.

> Hang up your bath towel.

> Keep magazines out of sight. People disagree with me on this one, but I find it impossible to keep stacks of magazines from looking messy.

> Shut all drawers, cabinet doors, and closet doors as you go.

> Pick up the mail, sort it, recycle junk mail, and put important mail in the proper place (I have a drawer for bills and a file for invitations).

> Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or, failing that, the sink.

> Deal with the recycling. It differs a lot from town to town, but you know what you’re supposed to do.

> Put books away in the proper place: back on the shelf, in the library-return pile, or in the donation pile. Speaking of that…

> Keep a bag handy for things you want to give away. As soon as you decide you don’t want something anymore, put it in the bag. Every so often, drop off the bag at a thrift store.

> Hang up your coat. My epiphany: I never hung up my coat because I didn’t like dealing with hangers. Eureka! I started using a hook. Problem solved.

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