We’ve all heard about the show “Hoarders” and the extreme tales of people who never throw anything away. It always starts with an innocent collection; then before they know it, their homes are overrun with stuff.
You might not be that far gone yet, but if you know you prefer to add to your possessions without getting rid of any, you could be on the way.
It can be hard to tell what’s legitimate accumulated goods and what’s flat out too much, especially if you’re organized. Before you end up with enough stuff to rival a “Hoarder” episode, watch for these five signs that it’s time to downsize.
1. You Don’t Have Much Empty Space
Looking around your home, would you say you have more open space than filled areas? If so, your clutter level isn’t out of control yet.
People with a lot of things have to find places to put them. They fill their surfaces, hang shelves, invest in baskets, and, in general, overrun their open areas.
This isn’t good for your organization or your mental sanity. Your brain needs blank places for your eyes to rest so it doesn’t become overloaded. Remember, it sees and processes everything in your line of sight and senses, even if you’ve gotten used to it being there.
2. Feeling Sick? It Might Be Clutter
Too much stimulation increases your cortisol levels. This is the stress hormone, and when it’s too high, your body responds as though there’s an intruder somewhere.
If you’ve been having headaches or you feel stressed when you think about going home, it could be your body’s way of telling you it’s overstimulated.
Too much clutter doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything you love. However, you may have outgrown your current place, and it’s time for a bigger house. Or, rent a storage shed for seasonal things and items that aren’t being used, and move some visible stuff into those hidden spots instead.
3. There Are Rooms With Things, But Not People
Millions of us start out buying a house by planning the family we’ll raise there. For years, our kids take over the home, making us wonder if we actually need to upsize.
But eventually, they move out, and you’re left with rooms that become “stuff” collectors. You’re paying for utilities for bathrooms and bedrooms you don’t need and holding onto things you could easily sell or give away.
This problem is why a lot of empty nesters choose to become renters, as Christopher Todd Communities discusses here.
The time and financial freedom that happens when you downsize and sell your home are serious advantages. In fact, the benefits of renting are so substantial that it’s the preferred way to live for both older and younger generations.
4. You’re Always Losing Things
Do you often find yourself setting something down, only to end up searching for hours to figure out where it is?
No, you’re not losing your mind. You probably just have too many things crowding your home.
It’s Easier to Organize When There’s Less to Put Away
The saying “there’s a place for everything and everything in its place” does help make life smoother. Without a lot of worldly goods cluttering up the cabinets and drawers, it’s easy to know what goes where and see when something is out of place.
But if you absentmindedly set your keys down and they’ve disappeared into an abyss somewhere, it’s time to get organized. The first step is a thorough declutter. During that time, you’ll find your missing keys (and a lot of other things you forgot you had, too).
5. You Simply Can’t Get Rid of Anything
The surest sign that you have too much stuff is if you can’t bring yourself to part with any of it.
Of course, there are the serious sentimental mementos that can’t be replaced and your valuable or essential possessions. Those are things you should hold onto for as long as you want.
What about the other things, though, like that identical black shirt you have? Or the outfit you wore at your best friend’s wedding that you’ll never wear again?\
When you can talk yourself into believing you’ll need something you haven’t used in years “someday,” that’s a red flag. It’s time for a serious declutter.
You might need to call in some reinforcement friends to help you decide what’s a keeper and what it’s time to give away, sell, or trash.
An impulse buy here, a new addition to your collection there, and soon, you’re out of room in your home.
It’s easy to accumulate stuff without realizing how much you already have. If you’re a master of organization, it’s even harder to tell when enough is enough.
These five telltale signs are warnings that it’s either time to declutter and downsize or get a bigger home.