Another blog in support of National Get Organised Month. Are you one of those people who would like to declutter your life, but don’t really know where to start? There seems to be a gathering trend to go against the busy, materialistic modern life and to start living a simpler life.
But for some it appears to be complicated and difficult. When in fact It isn’t at all! You can declutter your life in as little as 15 minutes a day, and enjoy a huge improvement in the overall quality of your life!
You will come up with your own ideas about how you can declutter your life, once you get the hang of it, but until then, use these steps will get you started.
Easy Steps to Declutter Your Life
Clean off your desk
Before you leave work for the day, take 15 minutes to clean off your desk, placing everything where it belongs. Refile folders, put books back on the shelf, take out your rubbish, refill your stapler, clean the crumbs out of your keyboard, organise the papers that you will need for tomorrow in a neat pile and put all your pens and pencils in the holder or drawer. You will be totally amazed at how you feel when you walk in the next day—peaceful and ready to work!
Whittle down your to-do list
If you are one of those people who has a daily to-do list as long as your arm, set yourself a challenge to do less, but accomplish more overall. Having an impossible list of things to do only causes stress which fractures our attention. Grab a small sticky note and write your three Most Important Things (MIT’s) for the day down. Once you have completed those, you can go to your master list of to-do items and choose another item to do if you have time. But if you only get your MIT’s done that day, you’ll be golden, because they will have been the vital tasks.
Schedule your day
Before you leave the office for the day, take 15 minutes to make your MIT list for tomorrow. That way, when you arrive the next day, you will be able to start right away without wasting some of the most productive hours.
Zero out email
Do you think this isn’t possible? It is! If you have thousands of emails that haven’t even been opened, how about going rogue and deleting them all? Too scared to do that? That’s okay. Archive all of them instead. Then delete some each day (set a timer for 15 minutes) until they are deleted, acted upon or filed in the appropriate file in your email system.
Clear your workspace
A cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind. Scientifically proven. So, before you start working on a project, take 15 minutes to clean the space you will be working in. This could be unloading and reloading the dishwasher, putting things on your desk where they belong or folding and putting away laundry. Having a clean area will make concentrating on the one task ahead easier.
Clean out your messiest drawer
Pick the one drawer that makes you curse every time you try to find something in it. Take everything out and wash down the inside. Go through each item and either replace it neatly in the drawer, put it in your donate box or pitch it in the rubbish.
Have the same thing for dinner each night of the week. For example, Monday is spaghetti night, Tuesday is fried chicken, etc. Sit down as a family and come up with a list of 5 meals you could all enjoy each week for the next 3 months. On the weekends, when you have more time, you can go wild and have whatever. This one simple thing will free up a lot of brain energy that you can use for more important decisions.
Handle papers once
This includes mail, school papers and other paperwork that needs to be filled out. Don’t let the mail pile up. Immediately get rid of junk mail and ads you don’t want and then deal with the important stuff right away so you don’t have them hanging over your head. Pay that bill, sign the field trip permission form, check the boxes and send it back.
Make time for peace
Start your day, every day, in a calm, positive frame of mind. Do whatever it is that you enjoy, but don’t usually have time for, such as journaling, doing yoga, meditating or just reading a few pages of a book. Or, you may want to just sit quietly and sip your coffee while watching the birds at your bird feeder. Make this your time to reflect and treasure—no housework or checking email allowed.
Empty your junk drawer
Your goal is to minimize clutter, so you need to make a clean break from your junk drawer (you may even have more than one!). Get small, inexpensive containers to put small items like paper clips, rubber bands, nails, batteries, etc. in. Then organize your drawer for these utility items so that you can easily find what you need. If you have more paper clips than anyone will ever need, get rid of all but the best ones.
Clear off your computer desktop
You may use your desktop as a shortcut to access files you are currently using. That’s fine. But do you ever refile those after you are done with them? That’s what I thought. This makes it harder to find what you need, and it slows down your computer. Go to your desktop right now and spend 15 minutes deleting or refile everything that has built up that you no longer need to have handy.
Start a donation box
You will probably make several trips to drop off donations when you declutter your house, but it’s a good idea to keep one to add to as you get in the habit of getting rid of clutter. It gets easier and easier to add to that box or throw out items that have seen better days. When you come across a holey pair of socks, toss them in the trash or use them as dust rags. If you find a whiz-bang kitchen gadget that you’ve used only once, place it in the box. When the donate, box is full, take it to your favourite charity shop.
Simplify your budget
Even if you have a budget already, it’s likely complicated, and therefore, doesn’t get used as it should. There’s no need to use a gold standard budgeting software program, when a simple spreadsheet will do. Set a timer and then make a new, simplified budget. You can simplify it further by having a catch all area for incidental expenses that don’t need to be purchased monthly, such as gifts and clothes, instead of listing it all out separately. Keeping it simple will make it easier to stick with.
Grab your phone and tablet and delete all the apps you had to have, but that you never use. Yes, even if you paid for them. You can do this while you are watching TV or in a queue waiting. I bet you’ll never miss them, but if you do, just download them again and then use them.
Downsize your wallet or purse
Go through your wallet or purse and get rid of all the old receipts, coupons and cards that you no longer need. Organise your money so all the notes are facing the same direction. Remove all the savings cards you’ve collected that every store now seems to have. Either keep those in a safe place or if you don’t use them often, just cut them up and throw them out. Take all but one credit card and debit card out of your wallet and store them someplace safe.
Have one place for mail
If you are like many people, you don’t have a designated location for incoming mail. Even though by now you have hopefully made all your bills paperless, you probably still get important stuff in the snail mail sometimes. Have you ever missed a one-off payment or forgotten to renew your car tax because the mail was carelessly tossed somewhere? Choose one place where all mail goes and tell your family about it.
Unsubscribe from email lists
We have all signed up to email lists or newsletters that we no longer care about and never open. Go through and unsubscribe from all of them. When another one pops up in your inbox, as you know it will take the time right then to unsubscribe. This will make your email easier to zero out each day.
Streamline your wardrobe
Go through your wardrobe and take out anything you haven’t worn for 6 months. Or anything that doesn’t fit you right or that you don’t like the colour of or whatever. Put it all in your donate box.
What tips would you add to this list that would help to declutter your life, let me know in the comments section.
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Till Next Time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor