Living your best life: clear out the cobwebs, spring is in the air
March 16, 2023
For plan members, sponsors and administrators
Many of us have looked around and suddenly realized, “I have too much stuff.” It could be in your home, your workplace, your mind, or demands on your time.
If you can relate, you’re not alone. According to the Professional Organizers of Canada, 83% of Canadians say they are extremely disorganized and 91% of Canadians feel clutter negatively affects their lives.1
In fact, the Canadian Association of Mental Health says that not only does our environment impact our mood, it affects our overall mental health. By reducing the clutter in our lives, we’re better able to tackle the stresses we face. When we do that, it benefits our mental health.2
The next 3 articles in our Wellness on a budget: Living your best life series will focus on clearing the clutter in your life. We’ll get started with helping you clear the physical clutter. Next, we’ll share some tips to clear your mind. And finally, how to clear your time so you can do more for yourself and others.
6 tips to clearing the clutter in your space
- Get ready. Before you even open a drawer, decide on a plan of action and what you’ll need to get ready. Consider not just where you want to organize, but how. If you put a system in place when everything’s clean, it’s easier to follow in the future. Make sure you have boxes or bins on hand for what you do want to keep. Discover the places in your community that take donations: shelters, second hand stores, charities. Either write on the box or create a list you tape to the outside of the box so you know what you’ve stored.
- Tackle it one closet or cupboard at a time. Take everything out and separate into piles: keep, sell, donate, garbage. Before you put everything back, see if you can remove even more from the keep pile. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it or worn it in a year, you don’t need it. Ask a friend to help. They don’t have the emotional attachment you’ll have and can provide a much needed voice of reason for what has to stay or go.
- Sweat the small stuff. Everyone has a junk drawer, but if you have more than one, it’s time to purge. If you have old magazines, call your local hospital and see if they’d like them. If you’re keeping a magazine just for a recipe, cut it out or scan it in. Do you have stacks of product manuals? Find the manual online and then create a one-page document with links. Old cell phones? Donate them to charity. Or find an organization that takes old cell phones for the parts. And did you know that many charities will accept prescription eyeglasses? Feel better knowing what’s old to you may be a lifeline for someone else.
If you have extra loose paper, call your neighbourhood school or daycare and see if they’d like it. Many welcome paper and pencils for craft projects.
Don’t forget about where you work. “Having a clean, clear working environment is a great way to begin your day,” says Maarika Arget, Senior Consultant – Workplace Well-being Manulife. “It helps you focus better on new tasks, without piles of documents and clutter from past work.” Remember, if you’re cleaning your desk, make sure you know your company’s record policies before you start.
- While you’re at it, clear your digital space, too. Delete duplicate emails. Get rid of attachments you no longer need. Remove apps you no longer use. Take the time to unsubscribe from emails you never read. Pay particular attention to the ones that only encourage you to spend more and buy more stuff.
- Get cold and clean the icebox. Jars and bottles accumulate over time. Check the expiry dates and toss what’s no longer good (don’t forget to clean out the bottle and put it in your recycling). Then, rearrange your fridge so that items with upcoming expiry dates are at the front where you’ll see them, and use them.
- Practice good storing. Once you’re finished decluttering your home or office, you can relax and enjoy your hard work. But don’t rest on your laurels. Every time you have something new, ask yourself if you really need to keep it. Otherwise, it won’t take long to pile up again.
Clearing the clutter doesn’t just give you a clean house, it makes you feel good, too. A well-organized home and workspace creates space and time for you to focus on what’s important. Next up in our series, learn how to free your mind of clutter and then when you’re ready, how to free up your time so can do more for yourself and others.
1 https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/0309-clutter, 2019
2 https://www.camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/spark-joy-how-decluttering-can-help-your-mental-health, 2019