In the mid nineteenth century thousands of people journeyed west taking everything they had with them in a covered wagon. The covered wagon was the mivivan of the emigrant trails. It’s hard to picture just how much stuff you could fit in a covered wagon, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t a lot. I can’t imagine getting many of my possessions in a minivan or even suburban, along with the kids and dog.
I am going to go ahead and guess that the pioneers of that time didn’t have a clutter problem. There were no “storage marts” or Pod containers to rent. Clutter is an issue that we created later on. An issue that has come at a cost!
The problem: we put more value on our stuff than on our space.
So just how much does your clutter cost? Clutter costs us in more than just dollars but lets just talk about the dollars to start.
23% of people in America have a bedroom that is not being used for anything except to store clutter. 70% of the clutter in that room has not been used in 10 years. 20% of people can not use their garage for it’s purpose, a car, because it is too full of clutter.
Let’s figure the cost of the space being used. Say you have a 2000 sq ft home that is worth 400k. (That number is ridiculously low where I live but we are just going to use that number.) Take the cost of your home divided by the square footage. In this case $200 per square foot. If you are using a small 10’x10′ bedroom for your clutter then the clutter in that room is taking up 20K !!! Now let’s assume the garage is a very small two car garage, 20’x20′, 400 square feet, that equals 80k! One hundred thousand dollars of your home is being used to contain clutter!!!! That is absolutely mind blowing!!
Not only do we store clutter in our homes but we rent storage units to store our clutter as well. In the U.S., 65% of self-storage renters have a garage in their home, 47% have an attic, and 33% have a basement. This suggests that Americans have more things than their homes allow them…in other words, clutter. The average storage unit costs appoximately $150 a month, often more than that. Plus you need to pay renters insurance to cover the contents of the unit. That is a minimun of $1800 per year to house clutter.
We are now very aware of how expensive it is to keep our clutter. We haven’t even mentioned how much it cost us to aquire it in the first place…which is ironically the reason many people continue to pay more money to keep the clutter.
What other ways does our clutter cost us? Time for one. Did you know that we spend about one whole year of our lives looking for something we have lost or misplaced? If our homes are cluttered it is easy to lose things and harder to find them. Clutter makes everything take longer. Too many clothes makes it harder and takes longer to find something to wear. Too many piles of mail makes it hard to find that important paper you need. Too many knick knacks makes it too hard to dust easily. Losing your keys in clutter on the counter can cause you to be late.
Clutter costs us Space, like the bedroom full of clutter. That space could be used for a grandchild’s sleepover or a friend coming from out of town. It could be used as an office or a sewing/hobby room. Clutter robs us of those opportunities because it takes up space. It isnt that we dont have enough room… we have too much stuff.
Clutter takes more energy. Clutter has to be worked around, moved, shoved back, and dealt with in someway. Clutter makes 40% more housework and makes it more difficult as welll. First you have to clean….before you can clean!
Clutter affects our memory and our focus. Did you know that clutter affects your brain? Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources, meaning our brains have to constantly “do something” with what it is seeing. Clutter is like an app running in the background. We aren’t able to give other things our full attention, reducing our ability to focus. The visual distraction of clutter increases cognitive overload and can reduce our working memory.
Sleep is also affected when there is clutter. Clutter causes stress in your brain, because it has to continually process it. Stress raises cortisol which makes hard to sleep, makes us gain weight, causes anxiety, and many other physical issues. Research has shown that being in a messy room will make you twice as likely to eat a chocolalte bar than an apple and people with extremely cluttered homes are 77% more likely to be overweight.
Happiness and relationships are affected by clutter. All those things just mentioned are going to have a toll on our mental well being which in turn affects all our relationships.
Our home is not just a storage space. Our home is supposed to be our refuge from the world and stress around us. It is supposed to be our “happy place”.
So next time you are tempted to just toss those jeans that don’t fit in the extra bedroom… maybe take them to a charity instead. You will be accomplishing two good things at once.
Make a desicion to spend 15 minutes each day “decluttering”. Getting rid of clutter doesn’t have to be an event! Make it a habit!
One of the best ways to win the war with clutter is not bringing it home. Think about your purchases carefully. Do you really need it? Do you have a home for it? What do you need to get rid of if you buy it?
Things to remember as you go about your home. “Don’t put it down, put it away.” “Everything has a home and everything in its home.” “Don’t touch anything twice, put it where it belongs the first time.”
You can have a clutter free house! You deserve that. Do it for your wallet, your time, your energy, your brain, your health, your happiness and for your family! Don’t let clutter rob you anymore!
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.