Clutter adds to overwhelm, to stress and a decrease in productivity. Your mindset will improve when you declutter your life.
Here are some ideas and tips down about how to declutter your physical space then remain in control.
1. Tell people what you are doing.
Your spouse, your kids, your workmates. Everybody on whom your decluttering will have an impact. Especially as far as your household is concerned, you need them on board. They might not don their rubber gloves and jump in with great enthusiasm, but they need to understand what you are doing and support you.
2. Start with your workspace(s).
Be that in your office within or outside the home, your crafts area, your kitchen surfaces, your workspace(s) are where you need to start.
Because it’s where you spend most of the time where you need to be concentrating, and you can’t concentrate properly or efficiently in a cluttered workspace.
Remove everything from the work area and give it a good clean. Looks better already. Then, look at everything you have taken out of the area and categorise it into urgent, unfinished, finished and unnecessary. The unnecessary stuff needs to go: into the bin, or shredder, or delegated. The completed stuff needs to go too – into a file, to stock, handed on to the next person in the chain. The unfinished and urgent things then need to be looked at, put into priority order on a list, and you can start doing them once your workspace is clear.
Finally, collect together all the post its, scribbles on the backs of envelopes and half-completed lists. Phone numbers go into an address book, tasks to be done go on to your to-do list (which is of course in a notebook), and notes from phone conversations or random ideas from your musings go into a separate notebook. Except anything that you will no longer need. That goes in the bin.
3. Declutter your Computer
Start with the downloads file – delete what you don’t need, label and save everything else elsewhere. It is a temporary holding folder.
Have a look at all the documents you have stacked up with no home to go in My Documents. Find them a folder to live in, give them a proper name and delete the ones you don’t need.
Look at the freebies you have downloaded from the internet. Be ruthless and delete the ones you don’t need, especially the ones you downloaded ages ago thinking you would get round to reading but haven’t. You probably won’t. So delete them. Except mine of course, you have to read that. Then bin it.
Go through all your documents and delete the ones which you don’t need – the old drafts, the blurred photos.
Empty the trash.
I have a really easy filing system on my computer which I won’t go into now, but plan to share. For now have a look at your filing system and think about making it easier to manage and find your way around. Take the time it needs. Keep it simple.
4. Declutter Your Inbox
How many unread emails do you have in your inbox? Every few hours or at least once a day (when online) look at your inbox and delete, move to spam, move to a folder or flag as needing attention. Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t read. Read mine, then bin.
Every few days glance through your spam, just in case something has slipped through, and bin the rest.
Switch notifications of new mail coming through to every hour, or, even better, every 4, 8 or 12 hours. That might not be practical at work, but every hour should be enough. If it is urgent enough to need an answer within an hour people will likely contact you another way.
5.Trash, Donate, Sell or Keep
Room by room, closet by closet, shelf by shelf, “Trash, Donate, Sell or Keep” will be your mantra. Be ruthless. Are you really going to re-read the novels? Are you ever going to eat the pickled fruit that been there since Christmas 2008? The candles which have burned down – are you going to finish them off or have you already moved on to newer candles? The cosmetics you have started before moving on to another one?
Once you have decided what to do with everything, do it. Bin the trash, list the saleable stuff online, donate what you can and find a place for the stuff you are keeping. Everything must have its place.
Empty each drawer or closet and clean the inside before you start putting stuff back in it. Make a conscious decision, immediately, on every object in every drawer or closet. If you are keeping it you need a good reason.
6. Where is your dumping ground?
It might be a surface, a shelf, the bottom of the stairs, a drawer.
Deal with it – either by clearing it or tidying it.
Ensure that you at least have one clear surface in every room and promise yourself that that surface will remain clear. That if you use that surface you will clear it again immediately afterwards. You could make it a focal point for something that makes you happy, like flowers or a family photo. But if you want to keep an object on there make it just the one, so that it is a source of pleasure but easy to wipe clean. It needs to be a place that you can look at and be calm, however messy your surroundings have got (not that they will, because you aren’t going to slip back into bad habits, right?)
7. Deep clean your appliances.
Your dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, oven, toaster, fridge and freezer. De-scale your kettle. This is good for the appliances but also good for your sense of well-being. Use up the food in your fridge and freezer, and set up a labelling system for your freezer so you don’t have to play freezer lottery again. All this needs to be done regularly, so let’s move on to our final stage.
8. You’ve done it.
How awesome do you feel? Your house is sparkling clean, radically organised and free of clutter. Your workplace is screaming out how flipping organised and on top of your work you are. It is time now to make a plan to keep it all that way.
List all the things you have done to become uncluttered. Every single thing. Add usual household tasks like washing sheets, vacuuming, cleaning the loo.
Note next to each little task how often you think you should be doing them. Adjust to realistically decide how often you could do them.
Set aside, for each task, the relevant number of slots in the next month. You might decide to devote whole days to your tasks, or 15 minutes here and there. Delegate some tasks to other members of your household. Draw up a plan for the month and write it all on there so you can cross the tasks off.
See how you do over a month, then go back to your list and re-evaluate for the next month. Remaining decluttered will lead to your mental well-being and productivity. You need to find a way that works for you and the people who share your space. Your new habits don’t have to be hard – they can and will just slip gently into your routine.
The hardest part is making a start.
So, when are you going to make a start?
Top Image by arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net