The Shelving Store Blog
Do you ever look around your house and feel...anxious?
It happens to all of us sometimes. You take a look at the mess and clutter of your house and just feel anxiety and stress creeping in as the mess begins to feel insurmountable.
There’s some truth to the way you’re feeling - studies have actually shown that a cluttered house can impede sleep and increase feelings of stress and anxiety due to the increased visual stimulation your brain is getting. If it looks like there’s too much stuff in your house, you can start to feel like your life is going out of control in front of your very eyes.
It might sound a little dramatic, but that’s just the way your brain handles these sort of situations, and it can really start to make your day-to-day life more difficult.
Never fear! We’ve got some decluttering tips that specifically focus on the areas of your home (and life) that can cause you the most stress if left uncleaned. Take a look at this list and feel the tension already starting to fade:
Focus on the rooms you’re in most
Most stress and anxiety caused by messy, unorganized rooms is due to visual stimulus affecting the brain. Take time to review the rooms you spend the most time in and go from there. Do you find yourself relaxing in the living room a lot after work? Maybe try re-organizing your living room furniture and finding a new home for all the wayward phone chargers, shoes, and magazines that have made their way in there. Is your home office getting a little out of control? Try purging some of your paperwork, clean off your desk a little, and set up some home office organization to keep it from getting messy again. Whatever room you spend most of your day in, focus on that first to prevent stress from affecting you later.
Provide a good sleeping area
Above and beyond the room (or rooms) you tackled in the previous step, decluttering is also crucial for getting a good night’s sleep - and getting a good night’s sleep is a big help in reducing anxiety overall. When your brain is surrounded by clutter it can start to interpret that hodgepodge as a task that needs completing, and that can keep you up at night with feelings of anxiety or being unaccomplished. Make sure your bedroom is free of as much visual stimulus and clutter as it can be; keep things in the closet or your bedroom dressers to avoid feeling like work needed to be done. Remember, “out of sight, out of mind” is a perfectly fine strategy when it comes to decluttering for stress reduction.
Think about why you hang onto clutter
A lot of decluttering can be accomplished pretty easily by analyzing why your home was so cluttered in the first place. Why do you have all this stuff anyway? Have you just not gotten around to getting rid of it or do you have some bigger emotional connection? Are all those ingredients in your kitchen there because you’re planning on some grandiose meal with them, or do you just not want to throw out a half-full spice container? Are you keeping that jacket around because you want to wear it again after working out? These things can really start to pile up after a while, and you need to start being honest with yourself about why it’s there in the first place - after that you can start letting go of things much more easily.
Finish any of your unfinished projects
A big cause of clutter, and an increased cause of stress above and beyond what you’re encountering already, can be the sight of an unfinished project around the house. Try to make time to finish these projects, or at least reduce your visual reminders of them - finish that painting, complete your bedroom redecorating, send out those thank-you cards from your anniversary party, so on and so forth. Committing to a task that’s been hanging over your head for a while can be a huge, immediate, and long-term reducer of stress in your life.
If it’s broken - toss it
Finally, a common source of clutter and the related stress/guilt that it brings is that junk drawer full of broken stuff you mean to fix one day. Phones you haven’t used in two years, headphones with one ear not working, scissors that aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be, etc. Much like the previous step, the knowledge of these unfinished projects hanging over your head can cause a lot of stress when you’re reminded of it, and in a lot of cases it’s going to be a lot easier and more productive to simply throw them out and replace them instead of trying to fix it.
Hopefully after these tips you’ll be in a much better place when it comes to stress at home - and you’ll love how much tidier your house is!
No matter how advanced technology gets, sometimes it still feels like you have a ton of paper to deal with, doesn’t it?
Bills, catalogues, invoices from that visit to the doctor’s office you never paid for, magazines you keep getting even though you don’t remember renewing your subscription, owner’s manuals to the washing machine, notes from school...the list goes on.
Sure, most of this stuff winds up going straight in the trash where it belongs, but there’s a lot of it that you need to hang onto for later, and it can all start to pile up after a while if you’re not careful.
If you’ve got a few mountains of paperwork to scale and are looking for advice on how to get rid of it all, read on.
Pull It All Together:
This might sound a little intimidating at first, but the best way to get started on the process is to go through every room you leave paper trails in and compile it all. Check the entryway, any room adjacent to the entryway (living room, dining room, etc), the home office, and even the bathroom (especially if you’re the bathroom-reading sort) to find any paperwork that might have been left behind. This will help with the next few steps, and will also give you an idea of where these letters and magazines tend to end up so you can try and prevent this mess from piling up later.
Ask Yourself If You Need It:
Next comes the great purge. If the paperwork you found has been just sitting there taking up space, the odds are great you don’t actually need it. Instead of tackling this all at once, let’s break this down into a few different categories of commonly-found paper clutter:
Magazines: Unless you really need it for a recipe, or it has some help for a video game your kids are currently playing, you probably don’t need to keep magazines around for more than a month or two after they arrive in the mail, and if you do keep them, try to get a magazine rack to hang onto them. If you’re the crafty type, you can turn these into collage art of some kind, but otherwise - out it goes!
Warranty cards and owner’s manuals: Some products still come with physical warranty cards and actual owner’s manuals, but these have a tendency to stick around long after you’ve gotten rid of that particular fridge or TV or whatever. Manuals for things you still own could be kept closer to the item itself - on some wire shelving in the laundry room next to the soap for washing machines, out in the garage for power tools or car parts, cable boxes and video game systems can go in the drawers in your TV stands, etc - and warranty cards can be mailed back in if they’re still relevant, or tossed out if they’re not.
Bills: Have they been paid? Are they coming up? Is this for a phone you haven’t owned since 2015? Did Mastercard not get the previous tenants’ change of address? Unless you absolutely need it to remind you, most paper bills can be tossed out once they’re not relevant anymore, as nearly every bill can be accessed online these days.
Greeting cards: These can likely be kept somewhere safe (we’ll get to that in a second) but they also don’t need to be taking up a ton of space on your mantel like they have before. Set these aside for now and find a place for them later.
Business cards: Yes, some people still have business cards, and unless you have absolutely nowhere else to store or access the contact information on them (via your phonebook, Facebook, other kinds of books) these can all be tossed out. Don’t feel guilty - whoever made them expects them to get thrown away eventually.
Tax papers: Now we’re starting to get to the important stuff. A lot of tax experts recommend hanging onto your W2s and returns for up to four years, which means you’ll want them somewhere safe. If you don’t have a safe or anything in your house, consider getting a locking drawer for your desk to keep them safe from prying eyes or accidents.
Medical paperwork: Similarly, if someone in the house has undergone a medical procedure of any seriousness, it’s a good idea to retain the records in the event you need to go in for follow up. Keep these in a similarly safe place as the tax papers for at least five years just in case.
Stop The Mess Where It Starts
Finally, after everything has been sorted out, take steps to make sure it doesn’t get nearly as bad next time. Get some mail organizers to sort things out as they go and help you keep a better eye on what you can throw out, make some space in your home office to hang onto the big long-term stuff, and a few fridge magnets and/or whiteboard planners never hurt anyone if you’re the kind that needs to see something to remember it’s there.
Got any other tips for organizing paper waste? Leave a comment below!
Toothpaste, hair products, half-used bottles of soaps and lotions...after a while, your bathroom counter can start looking like the clearance bin at Bath & Body Works.
But wait! Before you start agonizing over which one of your favorite conditioners you don’t have room for, we’ve got a few tips at hand to help you declutter your bathroom counter and streamline things:
Toss it if you don’t use it: Let’s be honest with ourselves, one of the main causes of clutter is stuff that you haven’t touched in forever that you’re afraid you may need at some unknown point in the distant future. Nine times out of ten this won’t really be the case - go ahead and throw out any products you haven’t touched in a while. Soaps you hated the smell of, half-full conditioner bottles, hair stuff you liked but not quite as much as your normal stuff, and so on.
Find homes for everything: The next step is to see what can be grouped together and moved out of the way. Got a lot of spare tubes of lipstick? Put them in the drawer with the rest, unless it’s a shade you really weren’t feeling. Toothbrushes? Get a wall-mounted holder or at least a spare drinking glass to keep them all in. Chances are, most of the stuff on your bathroom counter doesn’t really need to be there.
If it doesn’t have a home, make one!: Of course, part of the problem may be that you didn’t have anywhere to put this stuff in the first place. In that case, consider bringing in some extra storage to help take the weight off your bathroom countertop (figuratively and literally in some cases). A lot of your makeup and hair stuff could be kept in a drawer or in bathroom vanity organizers to get them off the counter while keeping them right at hand. Many ‘bathroom supplies’ (extra soap, toothpaste tubes, etc) could be kept on over the toilet storage shelves & cabinets to free up elbow room while maintaining accessibility. Even bathroom shelves or wire shelves can come in handy here to give a home to the stuff you need to keep without being such a space hog.
Remember Your Walls: Speaking of bringing in new storage, a lot of wall-mounted solutions for bathrooms can help keep things right by the mirror where you need them to be. Choose soap dispensers and toothbrush holders that stick right to the wall to free up some space down on the counter.
Smaller Items Go In Cabinets: Anything too easy to lose might not work out in the open on shelves or countertops, no matter how clean you’ve gotten your bathroom - how many times have you lost exactly one makeup brush? Get some plastic bins and see if you have room in the cabinet or in your closet for the easier-to-lose things.
Got any other tips for bathroom counters? Leave a comment below!
We’ve all got one room in the house we can’t quite get under control, and for those of us with an attic, it winds up being that one more often than not. It makes sense - you’re not up there too much, it’s probably being used for storage, and it’s probably either really cold or really hot depending on how your house is heated and insulated.
Whether you’ve got little ones of your own or you’re just expecting to see the grandkids a lot, you’ve probably got some experience in needing to kid-proof your home. There’s all the big rooms people need to take care of - living room, kitchen, anything with a lot of cords and electrical outlets, you know the routine. But what about the smaller, out-of-the way places? Your little ones are going to figure out how to open doors eventually, which means you’ll have even more places to keep safe from the little ones.