Despite being around you everywhere, literally so, excessive clutter is one of the most overlooked and inconspicuous reasons for everyday stress. Here is a seven-step blueprint to tackling that clutter, one small step at a time. If these don’t get you started, just visualise the end result – welcoming living areas, reduced chaos, less hassle and a more productive existence. Here is all you need to know to declutter your life…
Keep, store or throw. Those jeans from your teenage days that need you to go down 4 dress sizes? Definitely throw (or better still, donate). Get rid of anything that you haven’t worn in six months. The classic black jacket is definitely for keeps. The woollen beanie and the tweed trenchcoat should be stored away for the next cold vacation. Be brutal when you want to take out all the things that you need. Keep a master list of what has been stored away – for quick reference. Confused what to throw and what to keep? Here is a simple maxim: if your house were on fire, what would be the first things you take? While that may sound a bit harsh, take a moment to evaluate each object’s worth and, before you know it, your life is a little less cluttered already.
- Computer cleanse
The magic application you have been waiting for all your life is: Dropbox, a virtual store-room. The hard drive in the sky does one thing very well and that is that it gives you access to a certain amount of file space (2 GB in free accounts) on any computer you use as well as on smartphones. Google desktop is another useful application to search for the files you need. The desktop is the most cluttered place in most computers. Organise the icons on your desktop – get rid of most of them and organise the necessary ones into sets and subsets. Downloads go in the Download folder. Unless you haven’t finished video downloads, they should go in Videos. Get rid of all the old and unused files. Besides the visual clutter, excess junk slows down your computer and takes up valuable memory space.
- Social media sluice
There is a thing as TMI (for the uninitiated, Too Much Information) and the thing about it is that it slows productivity. So before information overload takes over your life, set limits. Do you really need all that in your RSS feed? Filter and reduce the things you read every day, keeping space for only enriching and necessary information. As for your thousand ‘friends’ on Facebook, this may just be time for a digital detox. So do you need Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit to be on top of things or will a plain old-fashioned newspaper suffice? Think about it. Sometimes, the best things are the simplest.
- Declutter your desk
Assemble the items in piles – take out everything from the top and from the drawers. Evaluate each item before putting it back in. Clean and wipe your desk, polish it till it shines and admire it if you must. Once you’ve weeded out whatever you don’t need, sort out what you do need. Keep stationery and office supplies in designated drawers and alphabetise your folders. Label things and keep a separate drawer for any mails, pamphlets or stray papers. Your desk should have just your computer and a notepad, and enough space for a favourite coffee mug and a special photograph.
- Shipshape your living space
Make it fun – play music when you declutter and set a time for everyday or every week to organise your home. A clean home can promote comfort, relaxation and clarity. But the truth is that thinking of cleaning the whole house is overwhelming so you should break it up and tackle a bit every day. Expecting to do it all at one go is not just unrealistic but boring too. Start with your rooms, one room at a time. Organize everything that you’ve decided to keep into drawers, cabinets, and closets, keeping them out of sight, but still neatly organized and uncluttered. Keep each item where it belongs – the keys go on the hook by your front door, not on your dresser. The kitchen is often the biggest muddle – discard expired goods, label your spices, organise your pots and pans and repair broken appliances. For bonus points, take a day out to plan a weekly menu on a chalkboard, and watch the week roll by, smoother than ever before.
- Reconsider your routine
Give your days a structure and watch your life organise itself. Set the tone right for your day by starting with a relaxing meditation routine, followed by a to-do list for the day and a power-fuelled breakfast, and see how you breeze through the day. Examine the way that you do things and put together a simple system for everything, from your laundry to work projects and email. Hang up a calendar and circle important dates, events and obligations. See the amount of calm and order an efficient routine brings into your life.
- Compartmentalise your commitments
Write down all your commitments on paper. This simple act will help you decide their relative importance; and then, just prioritise them. Just the process of penning down your commitments with your family, friends, work, school or any social ones will have a cathartic effect. Decide the ones that are urgent and important, the ones that are important but not that urgent, and the ones that are neither. Learn how to say no and decline offers. Decide what adds value to your life, and just skim off the fluff.
These small steps will lead to life-size improvements that will be easier to maintain over the long-run. Finally, to reiterate, just remember – throw it out, donate it, or keep it and put it in a precise area. Welcome to the uncluttered life!
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/patrix99/