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Decluttering helps to reduce anxiety

Stefanie Schornsheim 1


…this was my office at home before and after decluttering 🙈 🙊 It was horrible to find my way through all the mess every day, and instead of magically disappearing, the piles of stuff got higher and higher. Just looking at it stressed me out. And then, I heard that decluttering reduces anxiety.

No wonder because clutter is a trigger for anxiety.

*All links marked with AL are affiliate links. If you buy through this link, you incur no additional costs, but I get a small commission. All mentioned and showed products were paid for by myself because I personally use them.

Subconsciously we perceive things lying around or dirty spots as a mess and unfinished tasks. If we don’t act on them, they build up: Piles of clothes are getting higher, stuff on the desk piles up, …

At the same time, the general stress level rises slowly (because the mess is not the only task we have to focus on). Especially when you’re coming back from a stressful workday and find a cluttered home, your subconsciousness will add the surrounding quietly to the long to-do list in your head, which makes it very hard to relax.

The more clutter you have, the more your anxiety level rises. Not knowing how long it will take you to clean up can be a haunting thought preventing you from starting.

decluttering reduces anxiety because it leads to a feeling of personal accomplishment. It’s like an achievement. The mood lifts a bit more for each piece of clutter that disappears. Why does this work? Because you take the control.


It can be overwhelming to begin, but keep reading. The method I’m using is so easy to split into tiny chunks so you can deal with one thing (like one drawer) at a time.

When I started cleaning my house, I felt more relieved every day when I came home.

So let’s take care of this together!

How decluttering reduces anxiety

✨ You gain control over something. This can evoke the feeling of being more productive.

✨ You’ll find some lost treasures you forgot you had.

✨ There is less to clean every day.

✨ As the subconscious stress level lowers, your sleep can improve.


First of all, decluttering and cleaning can bring your mind into a meditative state. If you focus on the task of cleaning, you’re doing something consciously, and your mind cannot wander around.

By focusing on the motions of my hands doing stuff, the mind has no chance to bring back all the bad memories from your past to haunt you. Your mind is already occupied thinking about what to do with the stuff in your hands.


Follow those steps to kick off your commitment to start and let decluttering reduce anxiety:

1. Decide to start today. Take a piece of paper and write down: „I START TODAY.“ Writing down a decision helps make the commitment visible and, therefore, true because it is written black and white.

2. Start simple. You’re going to do one thing at a time. We’ll get to how this works in the next section.

3. Make it comfy. Put on comfortable clothes and start your favorite music.

4. Set limits. This can either be time (i.e., 15 minutes a day) or area-based (rooms, specific cabinets or drawers, types of items like clothes or books).

5. Declutter – Clean – Organize: Those are separate tasks you can also split. First, you need to decide what to keep and what to throw away, then you clean the place, and then you organize the things you chose to keep.


Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering expert, is all over the news. She released beneficial books and even has a show on Netflix.

Her book „The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever (English Edition)“ (AL) or in German „Magic Cleaning 1 – Deutsch“ (AL) explains the KonMarie method.

The starting point is always to get everything in your household in one pile that fits one category. For example, all the books you own, all the candles, all the pants, all of your socks, all lipsticks, …


And when you stand in front of one pile, you hold every single item in your hands and think about if it makes you happy. If so, you keep it. If not, you’ll get rid of it. It’s not about throwing everything in the trash you haven’t used for a year. It’s about the feeling that you have when owning the item.

And this is why this method resonated with me a lot. I have many things I love to look at from time to time. They might not be practical for everyday use, but having them brings me joy. So those items will stay.


What’s also very handy is that you can use this method to deal with one thing at a time. You can decide to focus on one specific drawer or type of item. For example, I started with my desk. It’s a manageable size. One the next day, I took care of my socks. Then I looked at all my books. And so on.


Since Covid started, I have been working from home, so my desk is probably the most used piece of furniture besides my bed. Unfortunately, I keep adding things to it, so it is never tidy 🙈 sticky notes with to-do lists, letters I have to take action on, coffee mugs, gamepads, notebooks, pens, and sewing stuff from my hobby projects, you name it.

This stops now!

The first thing to do here is deal with the paper mess. Incoming letters or invoices need to have a place where they sit until you deal with them. My structure:


✅ Open the letter

✅ Throw the envelope in the trash bin

✅ Check the type of document:

Is it just to be filed? ➡️ Do it right away or put it in a to-do tray.

Is there an action to do? ➡️ Put it in a to-do tray and deal with it later (don’t forget to add a reminder in your calendar when you need to act).

I am using the trays from Exacompta with four drawers (AL) because I can sort the type of action (file, pay, other) and also have a bigger box for other items I need for work but don’t want to lie on my desk getting dusty every day (like a gamepad for example).


Besides the paperwork, the rest on my desk was a mix of different pens, sticky notes, notebooks, and stuff that definitely does not belong there 😂 Remember: decluttering reduces anxiety. So, let’s go:

I put all the notebooks on the shelf next to my desk. The pens went into a pencil cup, and everything that did not belong here went to the correct room or place. I updated my routine to put all pens I used back in the cup after work. The notebook where I scribble in tasks or notes during the workday goes back into the shelf at the end of the day. All sticky notes with tasks (AL) are behind me on my wardrobe. I organized them like a Kanban board.

Sticky notes with tasks organized like a Kanban board behind my desk on the wardrobe


Once you are done decluttering, you can start cleaning the space. I love to use the Swiffer duster (AL) for my speakers, PC, and screen. It works like a dust magnet. The table I wipe with a damp cloth.

I clean my keyboard with a compressed air spray (AL). But it depends on what kind of keyboard you have. If you can remove the keys, you can be more effective in removing them and then vacuuming the base.

The desk is now entirely free and clean. Doesn’t it look awesome when you compare it before and after? 😂

decluttering reduces anxiety


Now that you have a clean desk and organize all the items you need here, set up a routine and make it your habit to avoid cluttering the space again.

For example, you can set up calendar reminders for dealing with paper and letters. And you can create an end-of-day routine where you put all the stuff back to where it belongs before leaving the computer.

NEXT STEP: Organize your towels and bedsheets

Check out the next blog post in this series and learn how you can use the Konmarie method to organize, fold, and store your towels and bedsheets effectively. Always remember: decluttering reduces anxiety!

decluttering reduces anxiety: WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED?

⬇️⬇️⬇️ If you found that helpful, let me know in the comments if there are other areas in your house where you could need support for cleaning or decluttering. I want to update this article for you.

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