Research shows most Australians struggle to let go of possessions, including their old mobile phones and accessories, despite no longer using them, contributing to a build-up of clutter and old unused electronics in our homes. With most Australians planning to spring clean this September, we sat down with clinical psychologist, Professor Mike Kyrios from Flinders University, to develop some helpful tips to start the decluttering process.
Question: Why do we struggle to let go of items that we no longer need?
Professor Mike Kyrios: Possessions reflect who we are or who we were. Either way, letting go of possessions requires a degree of change or a degree of adjustment. We remember the positive feelings once associated with possessions or we fear the potential loss of opportunity if those possessions were no longer in our reach. The need for memories about positive feelings and the avoidance of negative feelings can motivate us to keep possessions, even if we no longer really need them.
Question: How can we decide what items to donate or recycle?
Professor Mike Kyrios: As a rule, if you haven't used something for a while, then it becomes more unlikely that you are going to use it, possessions often go out of fashion, are superseded by newer technology, or just grow old and tired. Possessions can also lose their attractiveness or "shine" and can no longer reflect who we are now. If that's the case, it's likely that we have "moved on" and are ready to let go of those possessions if we allow ourselves to do so. People's behaviour is often set by habit - however, if we stop to consider the usefulness of our habits, we can find ways to supersede those habits. If you stop and think about the degree to which you have used or are likely to need specific possessions, you'll find a group of possessions that you could classify as "not necessary - it's those items that are easiest to let go of through recycling, donating, or discarding.
Question: Are you surprised that 78% of Australians are intending to declutter their homes, this Spring?
Professor Mike Kyrios: Not at all, spring brings a sense of renewal, we get ready for entertaining, for bringing people into our homes and getting ready for the festive season.
Question: How will decluttering help Australians live freer?
Professor Mike Kyrios: Many of us want to declutter as we know we will enjoy using those decluttered spaces for more useful purposes. There's also a sense of liberation or freedom associated with letting go of things - we can move on and be more generative or creative rather than being bogged down by the past.
Question: Can you share your top tips for spring cleaning with us?
Professor Mike Kyrios: Create a plan
Creating a plan sets off your spring cleaning mission with a purpose, giving you a clear guideline to help you declutter not only efficiently but also quickly. Having a plan is like having a map to guide you to make quick decisions and avoid the pressure we all feel parting ways with things we know we no longer need. As part of your plan, develop some questions you can ask in making decisions. For example, a simple question such as "have I used this in the last 2 years?" might give you a good indication of whether it's time to say goodbye to the item.
Don't forget your old tech
MobileMuster's research shows that 73% of Australians have never used the old mobile phones that they have held on to despite keeping them as a backup; Most of us claim that they don't even miss their phones once they have said goodbye to them. Start your spring clean by digging out your old phones and working out which ones can be reused or recycled.
Enjoy the memories, not the clutter
Research shows one in four Australians hold on to their old devices as a reminder of happier times. Rather than keeping those memories sitting inside a drawer, think about displaying them. Getting those favourite pictures printed or uploaded on a digital photo frame helps them be admired all the time. Additionally, you can back up your old devices and transfer those holiday photos to your new devices, making them more accessible to browse through. Once you have done this then you can pass them on to be reused, or if they are no longer needed time to recycle them with MobileMuster.
Cleaning is easier with friends and family
Spring cleaning doesn't have to be a lonely event. Clean out your wardrobes and cupboards with the help of a friend or family member. This way they will be able to provide you with a different perspective on old items, all while making it more fun. More hands make less work and who knows, maybe they can help you repurpose items you feel you don't necessarily need anymore. If you're concerned about friends and family overstepping your rules, it's a good idea to discuss beforehand what you're comfortable with.
Every household has 'that' drawer, the illusive kitchen drawer, that is filled with weird and wonderful but mostly forgotten items. Pens, elastic bands, random charger cords and batteries often fill up this space. Using dividers within the drawer helps make better use of the space but also displays what it contains, creating an overview and rendering them useful again. Dividers also help to highlight what is no longer useable, useful or necessary.
Reusing the space
Letting go of clutter will create space, which can be used in a new way or for its intended purpose. Whether to create a new reading corner or keep it clean and minimalistic, the cleared space will create a clear mind. Allow yourself to imagine and make plans for how you'd like to use the new spaces you've created.
Interview by Brooke Hunter