Can clutter actually lead to unhappiness? It seems like a dramatic statement, but there could be a lot of truth to these words. According to psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., the “clutter effect” is very real, and it can negatively impact the way you feel about your overall well-being and happiness.
Most of us spend a lot of time in our homes, so it makes sense. We might not even realize it, but those piles on the floor and cluttered countertops really can leave us with an underlying feeling of messiness, disorganization, and even frustration.
I can definitely relate. When my house is freshly clean and organized, I’m much calmer and satisfied. On the flip side, when the pet hair is piling up or the laundry has been ignored, I’m far more irritable.
If you like your clutter and believe it makes you a more free-flowing, creative person, then try to keep it focused on your office or workspace. Get a good jump on your spring-cleaning efforts this year with the 15 things that it’s finally time to toss.
1. Old Baby Clothes From Your Much Older Children
I’m definitely not saying you should get rid of all the baby clothes, but if you’re someone who has bin after bin stashed away, then it’s probably time to clear ‘em out. Select a few items that you really love, and then donate the rest.
2. Broken Things You’re Not Likely to Fix
You know that broken vacuum, toaster, or rake that you probably replaced already? Do yourself a favor and eliminate those “I’m going to get to that” older items. Offer them up for free on Craigslist or on your social media for other fixers to tackle. But if it’s been weeks, months, or even years and you still haven’t fixed it, then it’s time to admit that’s just not going to happen.
3. Your Old “Fat” or “Skinny” Clothes
Maybe you have some clothes hanging around from your pre-pregnancy days. Or perhaps you lost some weight but want to hold on to your old clothes “just in case.” Do yourself a favor and donate them. Clothes go in and out of style, and if you need bigger or smaller clothes again, then you can go shopping.
4. Collections You Don’t Want or Need Anymore
Perhaps you used to collect elephants, pigs, or teacups, and then everyone bombarded you with them and the charm wore off. It’s OK to stop collecting something after a while. Just think of how much space you could save!
5. Kitchen Gadgets You’ve Only Used a Couple of Times
Smoothie makers, juicers, bread machines — it seemed like such a good idea at the time, but now they just sit there, right? Claim space back in your kitchen cabinets and get rid of those not-so-useful gadgets.
6. Dishes and Cups You Don’t Use
We often hold on to special dishes (from weddings, items passed down in the family, etc.) because we feel obligated to. The same can be true with cups. You just don’t want to get rid of that #1 MOM mug or the light-up cup you got from Margaritaville. But if you can’t open your cabinets without something falling out, then it might be time!
7. Kid Toys That Are Gathering Dust
It might be hard to admit that your kids have outgrown those toys, but it’s true. Talk to your kids about it, and then donate the toys with them. It’s a good lesson for your children, and it’s nice to know that other kids will keep on playing with them.
8. Uncomfortable or Ugly Shoes
We all have them. Remember those shoes that were sooo adorable and amazing in that moment we bought them, but we just don’t wear anymore? Life is too short to have bad shoes. Just let them go.
9. Electronics You Don’t Use Anymore
Quick, donate them before they are obsolete! There are lots of programs — for seniors, women’s centers, and others — out there that would love to have them. It’s best to donate while they still have some value. (Don’t try to offload your super old stuff that no one wants.)
10. Obsolete Technology
Now, if you do have technology like speakers, televisions, computers, etc. that are obsolete or broken, find a program in your area that will take them. And please recycle these appropriately instead of throwing them in a garbage bin.
11. Old Bedding and Linens
Linen closets are notorious for overflowing and cluttering up our lives. Give yours a good cleaning so that when you open the door, you can actually find what you’re looking for right away.
12. Yard or Garden Clutter in the Shed or Garage
It’s so easy to let these spaces clutter up because they’re mostly “out of sight, and out of mind.” Don’t let this happen. Go through the clutter. You’ll likely find things you can use that you had completely forgotten about. And the other stuff can go.
13. Art You Don’t Have Space For
You only have so much wall space, so you might have to make some tough decisions and get rid of some art that you’re not going to hang. You might feel especially guilty if someone you know created it or gifted it to you personally, but that shouldn’t make you feel obligated to put it up.
14. Puzzles, Games, Toys, and Anything Else with Missing Pieces
The next time you come across something that is missing pieces, then do yourself a favor and get rid of it. It’s so easy to just put it back on the shelf, but this only leads to more clutter.
15. Things Passed Down That You Don’t Really Want
Whether it’s your grandmother’s set of wine glasses or clothing that just doesn’t match your style, you don’t have to keep these things! People will often give things to others because it makes them feel better about getting rid of it, but that shouldn’t automatically make it yours. If you don’t like it, get rid of it.
Even if some of these things on this list don’t apply to you, don’t let it stop you from cleaning out and letting things go. It might seem overwhelming at first, but start with one area or room at a time. You might be surprised at the difference it makes.