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Spring Cleaning and the Consequences of Clutter 

Spring is the time of year when people start thinking about breaking out the garbage pails and mop buckets and cleaning house. The changing of seasons signifies a change in lifestyle. More outside time is around the corner, and getting a fresh start with a fresh house just makes sense—but finding the motivation can be difficult.

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Out of control snacking, insomnia, deteriorating relationships: a cluttered home results in so much more than an unattractive space. In fact, the state of your home may be the very reason your interest in much-needed home organization projects wanes before you even get started.

The consequences of clutter

While a clean and organized home is easier to navigate and makes everyone look good to visitors, the consequences of a cluttered living space are more serious than most realize. Research shows that a messy home negatively affects important areas of life.

The following are four negative effects that studies have shown result from living in a disorganized home.

• People are more likely to make poor food choices when they live in a chaotic environment.

• People who view their home as disorganized tend to experience more stress and depression.

• Sleeping in a messy room may cause interrupted sleep and insomnia. A tidy environment translates to a more restful night.

• One study found that participants who lived in a clean and organized home were healthier than those who did not.

Most studies agree that a tidy home makes for a healthy and happier life. That said, turning a cluttered home into an orderly space isn't a simple task. It requires time, effort and a whole lot of strategy. That's where the experts come in.

Decluttering your home

If organizing your house isn't among your greatest strengths, there are experts you can turn to for help. The recent success of the show, "Tidying up with Marie Kondo," has put professional organizers in the spotlight. These individuals, much like Kondo, can come to your home and help you turn a wreck into a coordinated living space.

If you are more of the DIY type, or if the idea of someone else going through your piles of stuff makes you cringe, consider kicking off your cleaning projects with some tips from those who know best.

Marie Kondo's Best Lessons

You've got kiddos, a job and a house to hold together and you don't want to spend your free time watching someone organize a house on TV. That's fair. Skip the show and get started on your own home with these tips from some of Marie Kondo's early episodes:

• Put everything in one pile so you can see the accumulation of your stuff. Ask yourself what you want to bring into your future. Only keep items that spark joy.

• Aim for a small rectangle when folding clothes. Each item should be able to stand on end when you are done. Tip: Watch "Marie Kondo: Basic Folding Method" on YouTube for instructions.

• Don't store things in garbage or plastic bags. Use boxes (clear containers make it easier to see what you have)

Advice From a Local Professional

Julie Hooks, owner of Bend's Organized & Really Living, helps locals declutter, streamline and purge their homes. She has plenty of tips and tricks for families who are ready to dive into spring cleaning.

Here are just a few:

• First, clean out your car, pick up some cardboard boxes and garbage bags and grab a notebook and pen.

• Ask yourself this question: who are you? Are you a family of ski bums or scholars devoted to furthering your knowledge? What makes you feel like you are really living? 

• Write down each person's passions and ask yourself how you want your home to feel to you. Do you want your home to be a peaceful place of rest or an exciting Grand Central Station for all of your friends and family? Boil it down to the basics and make a note of this.

• Consider a possible fire evacuation. What items would be most important?

• Everyone in your home must be on board when decluttering. Include each member when going through their belongings—even the 2-year-old.

• For every item I bring into my home, I donate a similar item back to the thrift store.

• Hit each room one at a time with your notebook, boxes and bags labeled "donate," "gifts," "trash" and "repair."

• In the kitchen, lay out a rug gripper on a large flat surface to prevent items from getting knocked over. Empty out every cabinet at once. This is a great time to deep clean them.

• Organize like items with like items on your flat surface, one at a time.

• Do not keep anything which irritates you, brings you pain or gives you guilt.

Spring cleaning offers families more than a fresh house; it provides an opportunity to purge the home of the things that obstruct healthy living. There are a variety of approaches you can take to tidying up your place, however, one thing the professionals agree on is you must focus on what brings you joy. Nothing is as satisfying as a happy home.

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