As human beings, we are drawn to material things.  We each have items that we collect that show others who we are and what we value.  For me, it’s books. I have books in almost every room in my home. It’s obvious that they matter to me, based on the sheer quantity I own.  And for the most part, I’ve read each one from start to finish.

My home displays the type of person I am, or that I feel like I am.  It is colorful, creative, and gives off a bright and carefree vibe. It’s pretty simple, there’s not too much excess stuff—but that isn’t to say that certain rooms don’t need a little extra TLC.

A Clean Room Is a Happy Room

Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, leaving my home in Florida devastated and uninhabitable.  Following the destruction, my husband, son, and I headed back to Philly with very little belongings left.  We were faced with having to buy everything new. Today, 26 years later, I have certainly re-accumulated stuff.

Not too long ago, an intuitive therapist suggested that I clean, renovate, and salvage a room in my house as an office space.  It’s now a place where I can find peace relaxing and writing. While it is my place of peace, it contains a closet full of old files and papers I need to go through.  All in due time.

Rather than spending my time on that closet, cleaning out my bedroom closet felt like the better task to tackle.  What I found was clothes I hadn’t worn in years, storage bins, papers that I had been saving for who knows why. After, I had clothes to donate, bins reused for a different purpose, and endless amounts of paper to throw out.  With the number of courses and workshops I teach, I can’t say I was surprised at the number of handouts and art supplies I had accumulated. Although it was a process, having a clean closet is absolutely blissful.  

How Does Clutter Impact Us and Our Lives?

My brain—just like my closet was—is a cluttered space filled with endless thoughts that occupy space.  Unlike my closet however, I can’t toss my thoughts in the trash like I had the paper. However, what I can do is work to organize my thoughts and send necessary ones to the archives where I can find them if I need them.

As I clear out space, sending some thoughts to be filed, I leave room for new stuff to enter my brain.  Basically, there is more bandwidth in my brain pan to put to practical use. 

A study done at Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that all of the un-needed thoughts in your brain acts as a distraction from what we could be concentrating on otherwise, which in turn limits our productivity and increases our anxiety.  I feel this way about clutter around my home, too. I find it calming to have everything in its place when I look around the room.

Have you seen the Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”? It’s basically about a change in lifestyle that has to do with what you own.  Marie Kondo is an expert on cleaning, purging, and organizing your belongings in order to simplify your surroundings. She says that we own too much.  And she isn’t wrong. The question: “Do you own the things you own or do the things you own own you?

Simplify: Keep Only Things That Bring You Joy

So, what does Marie suggest? Based around the KonMari Method™, you should only keep items that spark joy.  Marie recommends cleaning by category and not by room. After, she believes you should work to maintain the simplicity. Upkeep is easier if we simplify. Her book entitled, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” summarizes the systems that we can use to simplify our lives and support emotional stability.

I am someone who wears many hats, has overlapping personal and professional responsibilities, and educates people on how to live this way. It is important for me to retain focus and clarity in my thoughts. When I finish my workday, I clear off my desk, put away client files, and be sure things are in place to be sure I have a fresh start the following day. Here are the rules I live by:

  • If you open it, close it.
  • If you drop it, pick it up.
  • If you take it out, put it back.
  • If you make a mess, clean it up.