How Cluttered is Your Home?
by Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine
1. When it comes to spending time in your home, you …
a) Use all of the rooms. Aside from the occasional mess, your house is comfortable, and you enjoy being there.
b) Use most of the rooms with the exception of a few you either can’t get to because the entrance is blocked or you don’t like hanging out in because of how much stuff is there.
c) Use only a few rooms. Overall, you don’t really like spending time at home, and in many rooms, there’s too much stuff to move around safely.
2. On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate the cleanliness of your home?
a) 8 to 10. It’s pretty clean most of the time; a friend could come over unexpectedly and wouldn’t be shocked at the mess. b) 5 to 7. It’s in a constant state of needing a good cleaning, with garbage cans often overflowing, some mildew in the bathroom or kitchen, and tolerable–but not pleasant–odors.
c) 0 to 4. There’s excessive dust, consistently dirty kitchen and bathroom counters, laundry throughout the house, and a constant unpleasant odor.
3. A “good cleaning” means…
a) Going through boxes, bags, and piles of stuff that are in my way, tossing what I don’t need, and putting what I want to hold on to in its designated space.
b) Rounding up boxes, bags, and piles of stuff that are in my way, and shoving everything into a designated “junk” room, which I always promise to tackle soon.
c) My house needs much more than a good cleaning, so I just do the bare minimum, like changing my sheets every so often and wiping down the kitchen counters.
4. On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your ability to get rid of stuff you don’t use anymore?
a) 8 to 10. It feels good to ditch or donate items that I don’t need.
b) 5 to 7. I have a hard time letting go of most things. My attitude: “You never know when you’ll need it again.”
c) 0 to 4. I won’t get rid of my stuff. I’d rather hold on to something for years than let it go, even if it’s just going to collect dust in the basement.
5. The stuff in my home…
a) Serves a purpose (for the most part, anyway). Each room in my house has a function, and I use most of the things I own.
b) Needs major organization. I often can’t find things when I need them because I have too much stuff, much of which I don’t use.
c) Creates a constant source of stress and anxiety for me. I’ve got so much stuff that I can’t use or find most of it when I need it, and it’s affecting my health and the way I interact with people.
If you answered mostly “a”
Your household is considered standard when it comes to clutter. Sure, your home gets messy every now and then, but it never gets so out of control that you need help getting a handle on it.
If you answered mostly “b”
Your household likely requires the help of professional organizers. You might be able to tackle your clutter issues on your own, but professional help could give you the jump-start you need. Your clutter is keeping you from being your happiest, healthiest self–but simple steps can help you get on a better track.
If you answered mostly “c”
Your household may require more than a professional organizer. Seeking help, including a professional organizer as well as a psychologist, is probably necessary. Psychological, medical, or financial issues are likely involved in your clutteredness, and tackling larger issues that clue you in to why you have so much stuff will give you the skills and knowledge you need to do something about it.
Adapted from the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. For more information, visit nsgcd.org.
Decluttering 101: 5 steps to get started from “organizing doc” Ronit Zweig, PsyD
1. Toss the trash. Do a walk-through of your entire home, and throw out all of the garbage, even if you do no other cleaning. You’ll be amazed how much that can help.
2. Tackle what you can see first. Don’t worry about organizing closets and drawers right away; focus on countertops, desks, and chairs.
3. Figure out what you need and use. Do another walk-through, and gather items you haven’t used in six months or more. Toss what’s broken or donate what still works. If you can’t quite bring yourself to do that yet, put the items in a box and store the box somewhere of the way but not completely out of sight. “This way, it’ll remain just annoying enough for a rainy-day activity,” says Zweig.
4. Set up organizing systems. For example, if the area near your front door is a dumping ground, create a “station” with baskets for various items, such as shoes and mail. If your “stuff” is organized by category, it’ll be easier to bring some order to it later.
5. Take baby steps. You might not be able to see a huge change in the way your home looks right away, so remind yourself that every little bit counts. It’ll help you keep a positive attitude.