Wednesday, May 20, 2015

6 surprisingly bad side effects of clutter.

i mentioned in my first post about minimalism that i really never thought this would be a change that id make. ive just ALWAYS been a cluttered, messy person. i loved collecting things, and i loved shopping. i also tended to be overly sentimental and felt the need to keep anything associated with a special memory or that was given to me as a gift. and really, i never say that as a problem, its just the way i was. but recently ive really had a change of heart and the purging process began. it wasnt until then that i started to see just how big of a problem all this clutter actually was. i couldnt see it because i was so used to it. but it turns out, there were some bad, bad side effects (beyond the obvious messy house): 

1. stress/anxiety.  i tend to be a very visually stimulated person, which can be a great thing when it comes to finding inspiration from everyday objects, but it can also be a major source of anxiety since the more things i can see the more things i just have to think about. the physical clutter of our home was also creating mental clutter in my brain that i didnt realize was causing HUGE amounts of stress and anxiety. just going about my normal daily activities was hugely stressful since at every step i was confronted with unrelated objects that needed moved/dealt with/put away.

2. paralysis. as you can imagine, all the added stress of the clutter surrounding me made it very, very difficult for me to muster up the mental energy to tackle any larger projects. why? because something that may sound simple (like, say, hanging up some pictures or a quick sewing project), inevitably involved moving things, digging through supplies, doing the actual project, and then trying to clean everything up in an orderly manner. having every. single. project. blow up into an all-day whole-house mess just overwhelmed me to the point where i just didnt do much of anything at all. 

3. wasted space. all that stuff we had that we had that we werent using? it was still in our apartment, taking up space that could be used more productively, getting in the way of the things that we actually did need to use, and making it impossible to get everything actually cleaned up. 

4. wasted time. having a lot of things inevitably means having to spend a lot of time looking for things. finding the right pieces of clothing when youre digging through overstuffed drawers takes forever, and more often than not you end up tearing through it and making a huge mess that now needs put away. just to get dressed. every morning. the same goes for finding the right tools for a project, or the toy that alice wants to play with. and dont even get me started on how long it used to take to "pick up" before doing any actual cleaning. 

5. wasted money. having tons of clutter everywhere not only made it hard to find the things we knew we had, it also often made it impossible to even know what exactly we had in the first place. this resulted in a lot of unnecessary and duplicate purchases over the years, which is money we totally didnt have to spend because we totally already had that stuff. also, one day it hit me that because we didnt use the majority of what we owned, that meant that the majority of the rent we pay was doing nothing for us. 

6. guilt. because i was so stressed out about the state of my home, and even basic housekeeping was a ton of work because of how much crap i was moving around, so i rarely felt up to making any home improvements. so even though weve been married over four years, our home is still not cute. heck, the majority of it still looks like a couple of sloppy teenagers (and a toddler) live here, and knowing thats not at all what other adults' houses look like made me feel horribly guilty. i felt like i must be a terrible wife and a terrible mom because i couldnt get my house together in a coherent and attractive manner no matter how much i wanted to because of all the mountains of crap that were in the way. 

as bad as this whole thing sounds, there really is a bright side. throughout this whole de-cluttering process, is that as soon as we started to throw things away, the negative feelings lifted and i became more motivated to push the purge even further. the more we let go of, the happier, calmer, and less stressed out i become. the less we own, the more free space, time and money we have to make the home and life that weve always wanted. how awesome is that? 


  1. I can absolutely relate to the old version of you - the collecting, the shopping, and particularly the sentimental value that I attach to inanimate objects. I'm intrigued about how you ended up overcoming that last one. Was it because the end result was more important? Did you have to emotionally detach yourself from every item? I'd love some suggestions!

  2. it was definitely a combination: a general detaching myself from objects in general and really prioritizing what (few) things we actually NEED to have the type of home we want. though, ill admit its been a huge (and draining) process with a lot of things getting put in boxes "to deal with later" (though typically by time we get back to those boxes we realize most of it can go as well).