Whether you’re decluttering your home, mind or your digital footprint, it turns out connecting decluttering to gardening could be the secret to transforming a daunting task into an activity that can become quite enjoyable.
‘Keeping your home in order is not only beneficial to your physical space, but can also bring about a psychological change,’ said psychologist and spatial expert Helen Sanderson. ‘When you realise that our mental, physical and digital spaces are all interconnected, you can create a powerful synergy to support your wellbeing, both in your space and in your mind.’
Recent research reveals that some 39 per cent of Brits admit to feeling stressed when their homes aren’t tidy but 43 per cent say that a clean household gives them a sense of accomplishment. With this in mind, Google’s Digital Wellbeing initiative has teamed up with Helen to share key tips for decluttering the home, and mind – using a 5-stage gardening metaphor.
1. Prepare for gardening
‘Letting go is about making space for the new,’ begins Helen. ‘This might be for a creative project, relationship or new opportunity. It’s better to create a purposeful vacuum than just an empty space.’
- Prepare yourself mentally for letting go. Sit down, meditate and write down goals and objectives for the declutter project.
- Display your goals so you can refer back to them if you get stuck.
Helen describes this as ‘the hardest part of the process’. She advises: ‘Once you’re in the right frame of mind, set aside some dedicated time with no distractions.’
- Go quickly and systematically through your things.
- Place what you want to keep in a ‘keep it pile’ and separate out what you want to ‘weed’.
- Be honest – denial is one of the ways we convince ourselves to keep things. If you’ve not used it in 12 months, you probably never will.
Next step? Now you’ve cleared the weeds, decide where you want your flowers to go, says Helen.
- Take your ‘keep it pile’ and categorise it into groups of similar items. Then decide where it makes sense to keep or display them.
- Every room and drawer needs a particular purpose. If your study is also a storage space, creative workshop and yoga space, it’s not surprising it can become cluttered and you’ll be less likely to use it how you want to.
- Play calming music while you work to concentrate on the task at hand. Stick with instrumental music as there are no lyrics to distract you.
Helen says: ‘Just like you keep up with the weeding and pruning, it’s vital to maintain your organised space.’
- Practice the ‘one in, one out’ principle – when you buy something new, recycle or give an item to charity.
- Paperwork accumulates fast. Avoid clutter by switching to paper-free bank and utility statements. The less you have coming in, the more mental space you have for being present and enjoying life.
- Build your ‘organisation muscle’ by setting house rules, not just for kids, but for you too. Make chores easy and front of mind by automatically scheduling your daily tasks and this will support your wellbeing.
5. Green shoots
‘Just like gardening, after the clearing process, green shoots start to appear,’ says Helen.
- Procrastination is often the key reason people put off a spring clean. It can be daunting to delve into the process of decluttering, and excuses will crop up to delay the task at hand. The best way to tackle the ‘procrastination monster’ is simply to begin. Once you start, suddenly the task will seem manageable.
- Once the clutter is cleared, it’s not uncommon to uncover seedlings of an aspiration that had been forgotten about, from writing a short story to finally using your art supplies and settling down to paint. Your home can support any changes as you grow into the new you.