The Psychology of Stashing Your Stuff
Tidy house, tidy mind, so the saying goes, but according to a new book, how you hide your hoard says a lot about what’s going on inside your head. And with autumn looming, it’s time to curb the clutter of seasons past.
Getting back to basics, what exactly is clutter and why is it a problem? Author Flic Everett (@fliceverett) defines it as “anything that gets in the way of living your life.” Physical clutter, she says, “can be overwhelming and exhausting” but it can also reveal a lot about the state of your mind.
In her book ‘What Your Clutter Is Trying To Tell You: Uncover The Message In The Mess And Reclaim Your Life’, Everett claims to be able to help readers grasp the “big picture message your stuff is trying to tell you.” Here’s a snapshot of what she’s talking about:
Where’s the clutter: Your wardrobe
Emotional issue: Nostalgia
What this means: Everett believes this means you’re holding onto a fantasy version of your self – a thinner, happier, more youthful version of you
The solution: Ask yourself what emotion each piece of clothing conjures, then try to regain that feeling through an experience. For example if a dress that no longer fits reminds you of the day you met your partner, arrange a romantic meal to recapture the magic – then bin the dress!
Where’s the clutter: Your desk
Emotional issue: Procrastination
What this means: Every time you ignore the piles you’re putting off dealing with difficult issues
The solution: Sort your mail as soon as it arrives. Bin, recycle, file or take action immediately to avoid drowning in paperwork
Where’s the clutter: Your car
Emotional issue: No boundaries
What this means: If your car is cluttered you have no space left for yourself. Clutter in the car is the first sign of feeling overwhelmed
The solution: Practice saying no. Working on boundary clutter leads to clearer relationships, less stress and deeper connections with the people in your life
Where’s the clutter: Your garage
Emotional issue: Avoidance
What this means: Lacking the mental energy to face difficult tasks. Avoidance lets you pretend it’s not there
The solution: Use the Pomodoro Technique which uses a timer to work, breaking tasks into 25 minute segments with 5 minute rest periods. Keep going until you’ve finished your clear out
Where’s the clutter: Your attic
Emotional issue: Guilt
What this means: Attics can contain the most ties to the past – but when you keep things out of guilt you’re keeping a lot of emotional baggage
The solution: If mementos have been in a box for five years or more they can’t mean much, so perhaps it’s time to let them go. However, if something makes you smile, it’s not baggage it’s a memory
Futon Company says: Clearing out your clutter on a seasonal basis is good for the mind and the soul, and is especially important if you live in a small space. Introducing savvy storage solutions is one quick and easy way to give yourself a helping hand.