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If you are feeling overwhelmed by a messy home, you are not alone. According to a psychologist, house clutter contributes significantly to stress and anxiety. Putting pressure on ourselves to get everything cleaned up rarely helps. The more we feel that we are pressed to complete a chore, the less motivated we are to do it. This leads to a catch-22: we need a cleaner space to be less stressed but are stressed at the thought of getting there.

The solution is to start small – very small and to be proud of what you do accomplish. Here are the first few steps to take.

  1. Schedule just 10 minutes to do one task that has been waiting to get done. Set an alarm for, say, 7:30 tomorrow evening. Once it goes off, find a piece of music you like, that lasts for around ten minutes. Put it on, and do the task. Once the music is over, you’re done. Give yourself a pat on the back.
  2. Prioritise the things that have been bugging you for a while. That one pile of clothes you meant to sort through, the fridge you couldn’t find time to clean. Things that keep getting pushed back. It is incredible how much brain space these things take up in the long run – and how relieved you will feel once they’re out of your hair.
  3. Throw out the extras. Clutter often happens because there is stuff you’re not using that just piles up. Take the leap and put it in storage, or get rid of it for good. You don’t need it for the memories – you need the space to make new ones.
  4. Make sure you have the right furniture to store things the way you need to. For example, if an area of your house is always getting messy, that means your current furniture isn’t placed optimally to fit the needs of your household. Instead of cleaning up the same mess over and over, why not place a storage unit that people will use to put away their things in that spot.
  5. Reward yourself. Broke a bad habit and got a chore done? Great, now you can relax with your favourite snack and a good show. Or perhaps you’ve gotten into the mood now and can continue getting those small annoyances cleared up until your house feels clean and inviting.
  6. Take a moment to appreciate your clean, new space when you come home. No matter what kind of chaos everyday life brings, you can rest easy knowing that the bed is made and you won’t be tripping over Lego blocks on the floor.
  7. Add a personal touch to the newly tidied area, to appreciate it even more! Now that your countertops and side tables are clean, a great finishing touch can be a house plant or a framed family photo. You will want to keep that surface clean in order to keep appreciating the personal touches you’ve put together.