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10 Ways To De-Clutter, Simplify, and Streamline Your Life

10 Ways To De-Clutter, Simplify, and Streamline Your Life

So you know you need to get organized, but don’t know where to start. You may lose things, purchase a new thing, and find that thing (you thought) you lost one week later. You’ve read something about Minimalism, but aren’t sure how it applies to you. You know you’re not ready to get down to 100 possessions, ditch your car, or work only from remote locations.

Sound familiar?

If you are looking to live a life free of the stress and (physical) weight of your clutter, but you don’t know where to begin, here’s how to start. Consider these manageable steps a process, one that may not happen overnight. But take it one step at a time, and you’ll find that less is really more.

Step 1: Start Now

Assess what you have. Admit to how many pairs of shoes you own, how much storage space you have, or the fact that you haven’t seen your garage floor in years. Don’t make yourself wrong for getting there, or feel bad about being there. Just admit how it is now so you can accept it and move forward.

Step 2: Clear the Clutter and Clean the Slate

After you’ve taken stock of the areas in your home that need decluttering, prioritize which area is most important. You may want to start with what seem easiest, to gain confidence and momentum. This will catapult you toward cleaning out the other areas that take more time and energy.

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Don’t get overwhelmed by thinking you’ll do everything at once. Put out a bag or a box for items that need repair, one for items to donate, one for items to sell at your garage sale or through ebay. (Might as well make some money off of all that stuff!) Take breaks, play some great music, and enlist the help of a family member, friend, or professional organizer.

Don’t save things for “someday.” If you don’t need them, just let them go. It is just stuff.

Step 3: Let Go of “Shoulds”

The “shoulds” create clutter, both physically and mentally. There may be a list of things you should do, but that you’ve been avoiding. Put those things on your calendar and get them done.

If they take follow-up action, put those actions on your calendar. Set yourself up to win by making commitments to fulfill these tasks. If you are challenged by self-discipline, there are great reminder apps out there for your mobile phone, or you can enlist the help of a Life Coach to hold you accountable.

Also, let go of what other people think you should be doing with your life. Those are their shoulds, not yours. Don’t let them clutter your brain.

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Step 4: Start a “Don’t Do” List

Admitting what you have been “meaning” to do and “just letting go” is a powerful step. You may never go back to college to finish that degree. You may never hike that 100 mile trail that you have on your bucket list. That’s okay. In fact, let the bucket list go.

If it happens, it happens. If not, don’t sweat it. These are not your non-negotiable items, but things that hold you back from feeling great about all you have already accomplished.

Step 5: Go Paperless

Reduce paper clutter as much as possible.

Unsubscribe from catalogs or magazines that you don’t need. (There are even websites to help you avoid receiving junk mail so it can’t accumulate in the first place.) Get your bills online, and don’t print anything out you absolutely have to.

Of course, be aware that certain documents (e.g., tax statements and other important files) may need to be kept in paper form for a specific amount of time, but do as much as you can to streamline the rest.

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Step 6: Get Organized

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the clutter and all of the things you don’t need, it’s time to organize what you have. You may find that you don’t even need  those file cabinets or storage bins you thought you needed (when you had more stuff). The great part about getting rid of things is that it leaves you with less to organize.

Put everything in its place according to how and where you use it. By keeping like items in one place, you’ll find you don’t have to go searching the entire house for them.

Step 7: Automate

Since you’ve now gotten your bills online and out of your mailbox, you can take the next step and automate your bill payment. Set this up through your bank, through payment sites that auto-deduct directly from your bank account, or through your credit card of choice.

Step 8: Clear Out the Digital Clutter

When it comes to digital clutter (such as emails, files, photos, etc.), create a system for backing things up and for storing them. There are online file storage sites that you can use so your data stays secure and backed up. Only keep emails that you think you will need to refer to later. Start unsubscribing to emails you do not want to receive, or use an email filter to make them simpler to view.

Step 9: Maintain

Now that things are looking good, be determined to keep clutter from accumulating again. Create daily, weekly, and monthly strategies to keep things clean and clear. Bad habits start small – resist the urge to leave things laying around or let dishes sit in the sink overnight. Make it your firm determination to put those dishes away and clean up before going to bed. Keep your desk clean and clear, rather than letting things pile up.

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Another tip: When you are going on a trip, clean up the house before you leave so that it is clean when you return. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this makes in giving you time to decompress from your travel.

Step 10: Enjoy the Simplicity

With less stuff and less need for storage space, you can take the time to enjoy the fruits of your decluttering. Who knows? You may be able to downsize and get a smaller place. That will leave you with more money. And more time.

Time you can use to enjoy your new, simplified life.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Bridget Baker

Web Presence Sherpa

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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