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Extension: Focusing on important necessities in your dwelling
Clutter

By Barbara Worley
Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

Clutter is a word that is defined differently for every person. To some, having many items surrounding them in their home might make them feel secure. To others, that could cause frustration and a need to have fewer things in their personal space. Tendencies toward acquiring and keeping possessions is not the same for everyone, and this has led our society to the development of various methods to reduce clutter.

Why do we have clutter?

There are various reasons why some people are more prone to clutter than others.  Sometimes lack of time due to poor time management or hectic schedules results in items such as clothes or mail piling up. Not having a system for organizing items makes things messy. 

Clutter can also be or social or cultural norm.  Some generations who lived through historic periods (i.e. The Great Depression) may feel like they cannot throw away anything that can be used again. Other people feel like they must buy excessively in order to make sure they are always prepared for whatever life may bring.

Additionally, one’s mental health may lead to excess clutter.  A person may find emotional attachments to many of their items and feel the need to keep them, especially if the item(s) belonged to a now-deceased loved one. 

Benefits of reducing clutter

When spaces are cluttered, it is often harder to find things we need at a moment’s notice which can lead to stress. Once we have reduced the clutter in our homes, we are filled with a sense of accomplishment. Reducing stress can also improve our relationships.  When our homes are not cluttered, we are more likely to invite friends and family over or offer our home as the gathering place for Friday night potlucks. Reducing clutter has a positive impact on our mental health as well, resulting in a sense of calmness and clearer thinking.  

Also, reducing clutter can make your home safer by reducing tripping hazards.

Barriers to reducing clutter

The reasons why people have clutter are vast.  Some find the task of organizing overwhelming, not knowing where to start or where to put items, while others are attached to memories of objects.  Auto-shipments of products and problems with time management can also be a hindrance to reducing clutter.

How to reduce clutter and maintain balance in your life

Everyone has a different idea of how much clutter is manageable. Determining a manageable level of clutter to fit your lifestyle, is as important as finding a method of organization.  What’s tolerable to one person may be overwhelming to someone else.  

Figure out what is your motivation to declutter your home. Your primary goal may be to make your home safer and healthier in order to reduce allergy and asthma triggers. You may want to redecorate your home. Or, you might find decluttering a way to make money by selling belongings you don’t need. 

For more information on health, nutrition and food safety, contact at 770-887-2418 or online at http://ugaextension.org/county-offices/forsyth.html. Forsyth County Extension is supported by The University of Georgia, Forsyth County Government, Forsyth County Board of Education, and United Way of Forsyth County.


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