Health Fusion: My quest for a serene home starts with cutting out the clutter

After talking to a home organizing expert, I learned that my mistake was a common one; I didn’t thoroughly declutter before stashing and storing stuff away. My short-sleeved t-shirts may have been stacked beautifully, but I had to rummage through them to find the one I wanted. Then I’d waste time recreating my pretty pile of folded shirts. Most of them I don’t even wear. Ever. I had hoped to create a closet of calm, but instead, I designed a den of frustration and stress.

When I was a kid, my mom used to encourage organization by suggesting that I choose an item to donate or discard whenever I bought a new one. That way, my closet and drawers would not become stuffed with unused toys or clothes. Her idea was smart because it seems that too much clutter in the home also clutters the mind.

An article titled, “Clutter making you crazy? How to deal with hoarding,” on Cleveland Clinic’s website, lists some ways in which clutter impacts your health. Clutter makes you chronically distracted, overwhelmed and stressed, to name a few.

“I feel passionate about the benefits of creating an organized home,” says Sara Messina, a certified Konmari home organization consultant in the Rochester, Minn., area. “Being organized gives you peace of mind and confidence. We all deserve to live in a place of serenity, peace, calm and health instead of chaos and disarray.”

I learned a great deal from my phone conversation with Messina. She’s an expert in Marie Kondo’s organization method, which encourages you to declutter by keeping only items that bring you joy or that you love and donating or getting rid of the rest.

“People tend to develop a false confidence when they keep things they might use later or hold onto gifts out of guilt or someone else’s expectations,” says Messina. “Keeping things because you feel as if you should is exhausting. But if you only choose to keep the things you love, you will never make a wrong decision. Don’t think about discarding things. Instead, think about what to keep. ”

There are two phases to home organization: decluttering and storing. Messina warns that many people don’t declutter everything before storing and end up in the same, messy situation as I did with my closet. The key is to declutter and organize by category not by location or room. Don’t start by tackling a closet, utility room or study. If you organize by room or closet, you’ll likely miss weeding out items in other areas of the home that serve the exact same purpose.

Messina shared some how-to tips that can help you get started and be successful at home organization long-term. She says the Konmari method suggests that you organize categories of stuff in the following order:

  1. Clothing. All of it.
  2. Books/papers.
  3. Miscellaneous. Start with the easiest to hardest. Blankets, cooking utensils, gardening tools, writing utensils, cleaning supplies, toys, towels, pet supplies, craft supplies, etc.
  4. Mementos.

“Memorabilia is the hardest,” says Messina. “But if you follow the order, you will have become quite good at deciding which items to keep by the time you reach that last category. And it will likely be a little easier to part with things, especially if you’ve been keeping them out of feelings of obligation.”

I liked what I learned from my conversations about organization with Messina. And the idea of creating a calm, serene and well-functioning home has inspired my family to join me in the process. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Vivien Williams is a video content producer for NewsMD and the host of “Health Fusion.” She can be reached at [email protected]