This is the tittle of a book I just read. Below is a column I did on the book recently for a local paper. I just wanted to share. Sometimes I think we all get a little caught up in the "de-cluttering" concept of being a mechanism to help sell a home....but Peter Walsh (who wrote this book and is the organizational GURU on TLC's Clean Sweep Show) reminds us of the power of cleaning out one's home runs MUCH deeper than a quick and profitable sale.
The De-Clutter Concept Runs Deeper Than We Think
DE-CLUTTER. Probably 80% of the lived-in homes on the market I have personally gone to visit or seen in passing need to be de-cluttered. There is no doubt, in my experience, that de-cluttering and the sale of a home have a strong association with each other.
I define CLUTTER as anything taking away from the functionality or look of counter-tops, shelves, walls or anything else you can sit or hang things on. Each home is cluttered to a degree and this is always a situation that should be addressed when selling a home.
It was always obvious to me that De-Cluttering held many perks for the homeowner. Not only does this principle help homes show much better, but it makes the moving process easier and makes people generally feel “better.” These all were obvious side effects I noticed after working with homeowners who finally decided to let go of items they had stuffed in closets, cabinets, kitchens, etc.
But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered even more power the de-cluttering principle holds.
A good friend of mine pointed out a book to me the other day. It is written by Peter Walsh, an organizational guru on TLC’s “Clean Sweep” show. The book is called “Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat.” I picked up a copy a couple days ago and have to admit that I was only drawn to the title of the book after previously writing a column about New Year’s Resolutions and how several things one can do to get their home ready to sell can actually help them with their New Year’s Resolutions.
The book is primarily about the obesity problem in the United States and how Peter’s experience organizing homes has shown him the connection between de-cluttering and actually losing weight. After reading only a few chapters, I quickly decided that “de-cluttering” is more than just getting rid of junk and helping a home sale. It is rather a fantastic mechanism to clean out one’s life as well.
Peter Walsh says the following about clutter in this book, “Clutter is about fear of losing memories, or worry about the future, or a sense that something bad is going to happen…Clutter gets in the way of living the life you want. It makes it hard to breathe. It makes it hard to move. It makes it hard to see clearly. It makes it hard to focus and stay motivated. You have to clean outside to get clean inside.”
Ok. We all may not be in extreme clutter situations, but we all experience these symptoms from time to time. Whether it’s the closet in the bedroom that is so packed, it stresses you out b/c you can’t find something. Or the piles of old magazines that you can’t part with. Or the collection of your great-grandmother’s quilts. Whatever it may be, de-cluttering and having things in their place is a powerful tool, not only to the sale of a home, but to one’s over-all well being.
Peter Walsh states several “Clutter Principles” in this book in which I wanted to share:
1. Figure out what your goal is for a room. If an item doesn’t serve that goal, get rid of it.
2. If you don’t love it, use it, wear it, or have room for it, get rid of it, it’s clutter.
3. The clutter didn’t appear over-night and it won’t disappear overnight.
4. Live firmly in the present, not the past or future. If you are holding onto things you don’t use, figure out why. Memory? Hope? Gift? Fear?
5. Break de-cluttering into small, manageable tasks.
6. If you don’t make de-cluttering a way of life, the stuff will creep back into your home.
7. Recognize and celebrate every space that is de-cluttered. It will motivate you to keep going.
In thinking about people and thinking about the power of de-cluttering, it becomes clear that in most cases people can’t handle too much stuff. It’s ironic since we are a consuming culture: constantly shopping, eating, working, doing and going. Simplifying one’s life expands far beyond the quick sale of a home. Simplifying one’s life helps us stay focused and together.
When thinking about these ideas and principles from a buyer’s perspective, it becomes clear that a neat and organized home helps with the sale of that home far beyond the fact that it’s in order. When buyers are looking for a home, most of the time they are attempting to improve upon what they currently have. Chances are, they the buyer has some form of de-clutter in their lives. By creating an organized environment for them to walk through, you are not only showing off the home’s functionality, but also showing them a sense of peace that we all feel when things are in order.
Maybe this theory seems a bit over-the-top or psychological for you to grab onto. If this is the case, I strongly recommend that you read Peter Walsh’s book sited here or another called “It’s All Too Much.” His principles and ideas about clutter do not come from a science lab, but rather from thousands of people like you and me that he has helped break through clutter issues, small and large. Who knows it may actually make your butt look smaller!