How much is a Clutter-Free Home Worth?

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” -Unknown


If you knew I’d give you a million dollars if you spent 30 minutes a day getting rid of stuff for 250 days out of the year, you’d do it, right?


A huge part of the problem is that we don’t see the value of getting rid of clutter. I’m not giving you a million dollars, but I honestly believe that what you’d gain from decluttering is worth even more than that.


Let’s face it, we could have a million bucks and still be stressed. We might be able to afford a bigger house, but without changing our habits, that big house could become just as cluttered as our current home.


After decluttering for about six months, though, you will have developed skills that can help you establish habits and overcome obstacles in other areas of your life. All that stuff you got rid of? You’ll won’t have to deal with it ever again, unlike when you try to just organize everything.


There’s a shift that needs to take place in the way you think about clutter as well as the process of getting rid of it.


A precious lady in her 70s that I know from my mom’s church told me recently that she declutters when she’s mad. She used to go shopping instead. What a great way to use decluttering to your benefit!


Just like with decluttering, plenty of people don’t think working out is fun. I’m one of them. But I can see the benefit of it, so I do it anyway, knowing the effort is worth it. But I also try to make being active a part of my lifestyle as well as something fun.


For example, I work outdoors where I take students on hikes. I get paid to exercise. Or I go swimming. It doesn’t feel like a workout because it’s fun, but I’m getting those same benefits.


That’s what we can do with decluttering. It isn’t very fun when we don’t see progress, when our decluttering isn’t effective. It’s key, therefore, to make a lasting and noticeable difference especially early in the decluttering process.


Sometimes it will feel very much like work. But other times it will be a stress-reliever. Sometimes you’ll be decluttering alone. Other times it can be a family competition.


Speaking of competitions, we like to reward ourselves, right? It’s important to make sure our rewards encourage our habit rather than destroy it. So with decluttering, we might not want to make “Take a week off decluttering” our reward after decluttering for 30 days.


According to Gretchen Rubin, an expert on habits and happiness, that wouldn’t necessarily be a good reward because it makes decluttering seem like something negative that you need a break from. Then it also gets you out of the routine and causes you to lose momentum.


That’s not to say that there won’t naturally be weeks where less decluttering gets done, but let’s not schedule an extra one in there just for fun.


As Rubin also explains, a better reward would be one that encourages your habit. For example, your reward could be that you invite people over. It’s fun, but it also will motivate you to do more last-minute decluttering.

Or your reward could be that you hire someone to haul stuff off for you after a certain amount of time. In addition to making you want to get rid of more before help arrives to take it away, this reward also makes the process of decluttering easier on you.


If you don’t value decluttering and its results, though, these rewards won’t make much of a difference. You’ve got to also remember how the process itself is benefiting you by teaching you things such as self-discipline and how to prioritize and make better decisions.


The packrat mindset is that decluttering is a poor use of time. Aren’t there so many better things we could be doing? Things that are more meaningful and fun?


But the clutter-free mindset is that decluttering helps every other area of your life: relationships, mental health, physical health, spiritual health, and finances. With that in mind, how much is a clutter-free home worth to you?



This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, From Packrat to Clutter-Free.


Since I’m still working on the book, I’d love to hear about your biggest clutter problems so I can be sure to address them in my book and make it a work that you get the most out of. Please contact me with any feedback or ideas at mcstarbuck {at} gmail {dot} com.

Or simply leave a comment on this post.