Do you have a room in your house or a garage that’s filled to the brim with ‘stuff’ you have collected over the years and just can’t bear to part with? Or perhaps clutter is invading more corners of your home than you would like to admit. If so, you’re not alone. Across Australia families are battling a clutter crisis and desperately need an intervention.
Dubbed by Oprah Winfrey as the ‘organisation king’ and the go-to man to get your whole life organised, Peter Walsh is currently helping a number of overwhelmed Australian families de-clutter their homes as part of a new television show. With his vast experience, Peter shares some interesting insights into the habits of people who hoard or procrastinate when it comes to cleaning up at home as well as some tips to break the cycle.
Why do we hoard?
A common myth about people who hoard is that they are just messy or lazy. Walsh stresses that this is not usually the case. He says, “It’s never just about the stuff – it’s always about something else.” Often when people talk about the clutter in their homes, they use words like feeling ‘suffocated’ or like they’re ‘drowning’ or ‘can’t breathe’.
Because there are emotions involved in most cases, he says it’s important to start by tackling why you’re accumulating things. Some people hold onto stuff because of something that has happened to them in the past, like trauma, pain or abuse. Others hold onto what Walsh calls ‘memory clutter’, items of sentimental value. And then there are those who keep things for a rainy day, just in case they might need it one day.
Why does it matter?
When we are living in an untidy environment, it can have quite a detrimental effect on our relationships and our lives in general. Sometimes people reach a point where the clutter is so bad that they become totally overwhelmed and have no idea what to do or where to start.
How do you know when it’s gone too far?
Essentially, if the clutter in your home is preventing you from living the life you and your family want to live (e.g. if you and your kids don’t invite anyone over for fear of what they’ll think) that would be the measure that you need to do something about it.
Walsh says, “It’s not about how much they cost, not who gave them to you, not are they colour-co-ordinated, not ‘I bought them on sale’. If they help you create the life you want and you have space for them, they can stay. If they don’t, well, it’s time to let them go.” Once people de-clutter, they often say that it literally feels like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.
Since COVID-19, we’ve all been spending more time at home. It’s been a time when many of us have been re-evaluating our homes, our lives and what’s really important. For many, this has taught us that less is more.
Here are Peter Walsh’s top 3 tips to maintain a clutter-free space
1. Don’t procrastinate
How many times have you said, ‘I’ll do it later’. Walsh says the moment you use the word ‘later’ you give clutter permission to take over.
2. Respect the limitations of your space
If you’re downsizing from a large 4-bedroom family home to a 2-bedroom apartment, you are going to have to cull. If you overload your space, you will never be happy there. See it as a liberating experience.
3. If you start something, finish it
Don’t start a decluttering project if you have no intention of finishing it. For instance, if you’ve given yourself a goal of cleaning out your jam-packed wardrobe, don’t throw all the clothes and shoes on the bed and leave them there for another day. Who knows when that day may come! Give yourself enough time to finish what you start.