How Clearing Clutter Can Make You Happy

After living 15 years in the same house, we’re moving. Oh my, the STUFF we’ve collected and stored.

So the process begins. Last night, I was packing up my kitchen with my daughter-in-law. The cabinets were full of cookbooks I’ve never cracked open, expired food in the pantry, small kitchen appliances I never used, and then there was the dreaded “junk drawer.” As I was filling up trash bags and putting aside things to sell, I felt incredibly FREE.

Why hadn’t I done this sooner?

ClutterIn fact, why do we Americans love to collect stuff? A Self Storage Association study showed that by 2007, the normal family in the middle of a move that was using storage short-term did not represent most of their clients anymore. Half of renters were simply storing what wouldn’t fit in their homes, even though the size of the average American house had almost doubled in the previous 50 years. These clients, who often pay $1000 a year or more to store their excessive belongings, are contributing to a $154 billion industry.

Those who don’t rent storage units are packing clutter into their homes. The U.S. Department of Energy reported that one-quarter of people with two-car garages have so much stuff that they  use one half as a storage unit instead of parking a car inside. Another study reported 23 percent of adults say they pay bills late and incur fees because they lose them.

Why are we doing this to ourselves when cleaning out all that clutter is so beneficial?

Think about it. Conquering clutter can clear the way for a more productive life.  Without physical obstructions like piles of unopened mail, old clothes, and Tupperware without lids getting in the way, you can get organized and do more in less time.

The National Association of Professional Organizers reports we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items. According to the National Soap and Detergent Association, getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40 percent of housework in the average home.

So are you ready to get rid of the clutter and make your life easier and happier? Here are some common things you can get rid of to get you started:

  • Any object you don’t love, enjoy, or use
  • Clothes and shoes that don’t fit, are damaged, or you haven’t worn in over a year
  • Things that might come in handy someday – but never do
  • Recipes and cookbooks you’ll never use
  • Half-finished projects
  • Photographs, letters, and cards from people you don’t remember
  • Books you’ll never get around to reading
  • Email and social media clutter
  • Old toiletries
  • Expired food and medicine
  • Old magazines and newspapers
  • Excess paper clutter in your home office
  • Any object or photograph that triggers bad memories

And the list goes on. You know what you need to do. Quit resisting the idea of letting go of stuff you’ll never use. Stop procrastinating. Get rid of all those projects you’ll never finish, all the junk you’ll never fix, and things that need to be handled but you don’t want to confront.

You’ll get rid of unwanted stress, improve the energy in your home, and make room for new opportunities, ideas, and possibilities.

The simple act of clearing out clutter enables you to see clearly what is working in your life and what no longer suits a purpose. This insight can give you the confidence to make other empowering decisions such as how you want to spend your time and who you want to spend it with.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Simply take it one step and one room at a time and work toward the goal of a clutter-free home.

As you donate, recycle, or dispose of your clutter, think of the happiness and freedom it will bring you. You’ll have more time to do things you want to do.

Conquer that clutter and begin living a life that you love!

 Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw at


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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8 Responses

  1. Timely – I’ve been cleaning out old papers from my office today and filled a garbage bag! Still not done. I’m also doing an electronic spring cleaning of old computer files. It feels good!

  2. Good article. So good that it has inspired me to do a post on the subject myself., maybe even this afternoon. Clutter is a real drag, and not just for aesthetic reasons, tho there’s that too. You’re absolutely correct that getting rid of it will “improve the energy in your home, and make room for new opportunities, ideas, and possibilities.” We are energetically attached to our things. They literally weigh us down. Obviously, if they are not “feeding us” (by serving a definite and valuable purpose or by filling our lives with beauty and inspiration, or serving some other POSITIVE function ), then they are draining us, and our life force energy. That’s very counterproductive to living a fulfilling life. AND, too much clutter over a period of time can even negatively affect our health. A professional organizer I once knew confirmed this for me. She said that in those homes where the clutter was serious (think “Hoarders” on TV), the person involved usually had debilitating and often mysterious health problems. SO: Get rid of that clutter !

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