Decluttering has become a popular pastime of late. With everything from online consultants to organizing apps available, those who want to clean up their act have never been in a better position to do so.
Similar to other traditionally in-person services, home organizing practitioners have set up virtual shops to connect with clientele in the new normal.
The E-Commerce Times spoke with decluttering experts to get their perspective on the trend of organizing and paring down.
“Decluttering is so popular right now because people are spending so much time in their homes,” Yuriko Beaman, owner of Joy & Space, told the E-Commerce Times.
“Prior to the pandemic, many of my clients wanted to organize their space so it would be easier to entertain. Now, they are interested in organizing so they can create another office space or so their homes can feel like their haven.”
The Pandemic and Clutter
Working from home during the pandemic has made clutter more visible, and it’s also spurred people to change their relationship with the things around them.
“Many people are working from home now due to the pandemic,” Deborah J. Cabral, certified professional organizer and founder and president of The DeClutter Coach, told the E-Commerce Times.
“For the first time we are really seeing the clutter that may not have been obvious to us when our life was so rushed and on automatic pilot. Also, with the loss of so many Americans, even if it did not happen in your own family, is very hard to handle. It really makes us reflect on how precious life is. For some, material things just don’t have the same meaning as they used to.”
Areas in the home that were once considered private have increasingly become office spaces — and this transformation has also had an effect on how people perceive their clutter.
“We are now spending longer periods at home and in our space where previously it might only have been a space to eat and sleep,” certified life coach and decluttering consultant Julie Leonard told the E-Commerce Times.
“People are spending the majority of their day at home and see how much clutter they have and are decluttering in order to enjoy their space more.”
In some ways, the pandemic has only hastened a trend that was already in the air.
“The pandemic has highlighted what people were coming around to before Corona hit — that owning lots of things doesn’t always make us happy,” explained Leonard. “The pandemic has shown us that connection with people and relationships is vital to our happiness.
“Also, people are missing travel and experiences,” she continued. “Research shows that these are vital components of happiness. Both of these have shown people that relationships and experiences are more important than the short-term happiness derived from purchasing and owning material goods.”
Mental Health Aspect
Ultimately, decluttering is about more than just keeping physical spaces orderly. It can also be key to mental and psychological well-being.
“Decluttering is becoming more about self-care,” explained Beaman. “Clutter in your home is a visual to-do list. It’s stressful to see unfinished projects and piles of mail that you wanted to read or file. Unfortunately, as the clutter increases, we often think the solution is to buy more stuff. Then we feel guilty about the stuff and it becomes a cycle.”
Working through the visual to-do list often means getting rid of everything that’s no longer useful — and thinking carefully about future purchases and acquisitions.
“Letting go of items that no longer support your life decreases stress and gives you freedom to let something new in,” said Beaman. “There is a demonstrated link between the clutter in our homes and increases in the stress hormone, cortisol.”
Sorting out clutter can also mean coming to terms with how that mess got there to start with.
“When we declutter, we have to confront our prior choices and decisions. It can bring up feelings of guilt, shame, and fear,” noted Beaman. “However, these feelings are signals that we can learn from.
“Rather than retreating from the feelings, take a moment to sit with them, be curious, and better understand these emotions. After a while you might notice that you can cope with them.”
The process of sorting through, organizing, and getting rid of things can, in the end, be both meditative and rewarding.
“Take a deep breath and start choosing what you want to keep in your life,” said Beaman. “I encourage my clients to build in rewards for decluttering or tidying. I suggest planning on enjoying an activity, perhaps an at-home facial, favorite snack or cup of tea after tidying.”
A Clutter-Free Future
Decluttering is evolving, and the people are becoming less likely to want to buy more things to manage their things. Rather, digital organizing solutions can help to get a grasp on physical clutter.
“Virtual organizing and decluttering is the future for decluttering, especially right now,” said Beaman. “Virtual organizing provides you with the support and motivation of an in-home organizer but also empowers you to form habits that will keep you decluttered. I hope that we will see less of an emphasis on purchasing ‘stuff for your stuff’ as the practice of decluttering evolves.”
Clearing up has become so popular that there is growing demand for consultants to help with the process.
“The future is bright for decluttering,” said Cabral. “More people are entering our profession and the need is growing as people begin to want to rid themselves of the clutter that is holding them back.”
The desire to get control of things might well also lead people to reconsider consumerism itself. The next stage of decluttering, in other words, could be to not get cluttered in the first place.
“Decluttering is going to grow as a movement,” said Leonard. “It is evolving from a fad to a lifestyle choice. Over my 25 years as a decluttering consultant, I have seen it change from simply getting more organized to intentionally choosing to clear out and to own less.
“Combined with more awareness of the environment and our impact on our planet, people are taking more conscious decisions to own less.”