You may not have crossed the line between “creeping clutter” and “hoarding,” but organization expert Peter Walsh, in his recent book, Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight, cites a 2008 study at Ohio State University that found that hoarders were three times as likely to be overweight as were their family members.
Hoarding is clutter to the nth degree. What the two have in common: Stress. Studies have found that clutter can lead to stress and stress to weight gain. The premise of Walsh’s book is, of course, that removing stressful clutter may be just the motivation you need to also drop some pounds. At the very least, you might be better able to lay your hands on your workout gear.
You can gauge how serious your clutter problem is by going to the website of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization and answering 21 questions on its “Are You Chronically Disorganized” fact sheet.
Meanwhile, here are six spring cleaning strategies that may help you:
1. Make a deal with yourself: One bag a week. That’s all. Fill a trash bag with items from your home you can donate or leave at the curb for the sanitation crew. It’s a small step, but it will add up to 52 bags a year.
2. Check your closet for forgotten clothes: That blouse you keep passing over, the pants that are too small or too big, the sweater the moths like better than you do. Keep only the clothes you like, that fit, and that you wear.
3. Forget the yard sale. Be honest. If you know you’ll never get it organized, you’re just delaying the inevitable—and storing all those saleable items in your house instead of getting them out.
4. Rid yourself of temptations. Do you have an ice cream maker, deep fryer, or bread machine stashed somewhere? Somewhere, someone who isn’t trying to lose weight and get healthy could use it. You don’t need it anymore. Especially with such amazing, healthy alternatives like Nutrisystem’s Chocolate Brownie Sundae or the Leaf’s recipe for Air Fried Mozzarella Sticks.
5. Give everything a “toss by” date. If you have a hard time giving anything up, pack it in a box and mark a date three months, six months, or a year away. When it comes due, if you haven’t opened the box to take something out, dispose of it.
6. Drowning in paper? Buy a cork board or a roll of cork that you can cut to fit. Stick all the papers that are piling up on counters and other flat surfaces to the board. Once a week, clean off anything that’s out of date.