Why clearing clutter isn’t as frivolous an occupation as it seems.

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I’ve been resisting the urge to post repeatedly about the glories of clutter-clearing.

Few things match the exhilaration of bringing order and space into a crowded room, and I’ve been begging my friends to let me help them clear their closets; I crave the buzz that badly.

As part of that obsession, I keep extolling the benefits of two anti-clutter maintenance rules:
— The one-minute rule: perform any task that can be completed in less than one minute. Hang up a coat, read a letter and toss it, put a document in a file, put the toothpaste back in the medicine cabinet and close the door.
— The evening tidy-up: take time before bed to put things away.

While I’ve been thinkning of clutter-clearing as a satisfying but fairly frivolous part of the Happiness Project, now I don’t think that’s true.

The fault that I most want to conquer in myself is my low-level crabbiness and consequent snappiness with my family.

And I’ve found that clearing clutter—both physical (closets, countertops) and mental (answering difficult emails)—makes it easier for me to stay cheerful.

I used to feel harassed by reminders of chores I needed to do, by objects I couldn’t find or that were in my way, and worst of all, by tasks I’d been procrastinating. Now that I’ve cleared out a lot of that mess, I feel happier and act happier.

And creating order doesn’t just remove a source of unhappiness; it creates a charge of energy and satisfaction. The closet that was an eyesore is now a joy; the stack of papers, slowly yellowing on the edge of the desk, is replaced by a clear surface.

Try it! You’ll be astonished by how much better you feel.

From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.



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