THE BLOG

The Tyranny Of Things - And Why You Really Don't Need Another Cushion

10/02/2017 12:10 GMT | Updated 10/02/2017 12:10 GMT

As the founder of national housekeeping franchise business, Bright & Beautiful I know just how clutter has become one of the biggest bugbears of modern life.

Thanks to our throwaway culture, proliferation of pound shops, love of fast fashion and the latest gadgets, our homes are now drowning in huge quantities of 'stuff'.

Increasingly clutter is also being recognized as not simply a nuisance but as something that affects our mood, our sleep and productivity at work.

Apparently, our brain can deal more easily with order, hence why living or working surrounded by clutter can overwhelm us - distracting us at work or disrupting sleep - and provoking anxiety and guilt. It can even affect our physical health, creating dust and increasing the incidence of allergies.

We recently surveyed our Bright & Beautiful housekeepers, their clients and our friends and followers on social media to find out just what they think are the most irritating forms of clutter in our homes today.

The most common form of clutter in our homes is now paperwork - so everything from bank statements and work documents to letters from school. In an age in which we really do seem to live via our phones and tablets, we seem to be a bit of a loss as to what to do with this paper stuff.

Undoubtedly a lot of the paperwork is due to the rise in more and more people working from home, either taking advantage of flexible working opportunities or running their own businesses.

According to the latest figures from the TUC, the number of people now working from home stands at a record 1.5m and the number of self-employed workers has also risen to 4.77 million.

The survey findings also reminded us that we tend to accumulate different things at different times in our lives. We all know that children will hate you forever if you dare to 'file' one of their beautiful artworks in the recycling bin rather than on the fridge.

Toys and games were also one of the worst offenders in our survey with 27% naming them and don't even get us started on those blessed Kinder egg toys.....

And us busy adults are just as bad with our drawers full of defunct phones, chargers, kitchen gadgets and unwanted gifts. None of which we will ever use again but that somehow seem set to forever exist in stuff limbo- not quite making it to the charity shop or tip. Little wonder then that items waiting to be given away or sold was the fourth most common cause of clutter in our survey 29%.

Our increasingly busy lives inevitably mean less time for jobs around the home so ironing and piles of clothes is unsurprisingly the second most irritating form of clutter, something we know all about as housekeepers! More than one in four people in the UK now employ a cleaner or housekeeper; a trend that has been fuelled by our longer working hours and by a rise in the number of women now going out to work.

And then of course as we grow older we may have a myriad of things that hold immense sentimental value - from anniversary cards to a loved one's glasses or watch - at a time when the expectation is that we will conveniently downsize our homes and possessions.

But the joy that can be gained from reliving happy memories created with family and friends is truly priceless. These precious possessions are where things become a treasure rather than a tyranny.

So rather than treating ourselves to new 'stuff' all the time, our possessions should be a way of helping us to treasure the truly special things and people in our lives.

So, it's time to take a deep breath, open that drawer (you know the one) and get sorting the things from the treasures. And there's much good to be done with it too as the high street charity shops are proving. For Christmas 2016 Oxfam reported a five year high in sales with demand for men and women's clothing up by 14% thanks to our love of vintage and pre-loved items.

Having said that, I'm just off to sort my collection of Kinder plastic eggs. I just know that they MUST be useful for something....