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12 Easy Ways To Declutter Your Life

12 Easy Ways To Declutter Your Life

When houses get bigger, cheap products become easily available and sales become more and more appealing. The unavoidable consequence is garbage cluttering your space.

As the trash cumulates, it begins to annoy and overwhelm you. If you barely have any clarity because of the abundance of possessions, it’s a sign you need to declutter. These 12 ways will help you get started.

1. Donate your old unused books to a local library.

Recently, I donated 20 kg worth of old books that I hadn’t used for years. To be honest, getting rid of books is tricky. They are valuable items that we associate with knowledge and improving our lives. The fact is, however, they don’t contribute any value lying on your shelves. If, for some reason or other, you gathered tons of books and didn’t read even one of them during the last year, I promise you, donating them is the best thing you can do.

You get more space and other people can read more interesting titles. It’s a win-win-win situation!

2. Replace a pile of books with an ebook reader.

Here’s another point dedicated to books, maybe because I just love reading. The truth is, since switching to an ebook reader, I increased the time I spend reading tremendously. Firstly, I can carry the reader anywhere I go, so any moment of free time that pops up suddenly can be devoted to books.

Secondly, I decluttered my shelves (later, I also removed them), so there’s no longer a big pile of books collecting dust and distracting me.

Last but not least, my digital library can become so huge that the equivalent of a traditional library would need at least one extra room. Using a reader, you can carry it in your pocket.

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3. Get rid of your collection of CDs.

In the era of such drastic technological progress, CDs quickly became old-fashioned. Yet many people still keep them. I used to be one of them too, until I realized there’s literally no value hidden in a stack of films and video games. Everything can be accessed online, which is also a way more ecological approach. By switching to digital versions over buying CDs, you not only support the environment, but you also no longer need any extra space to store your collection. Kill two birds with one stone!

Maybe you can even make some extra money by selling your CDs. There are some serious collectors (who’ll probably never get the idea of decluttering) who can pay you to get ahold of your stack.

4. Donate or throw away clothes you didn’t use in the last 3 months.

Obviously, this rule doesn’t apply to a winter jacket when it’s summer, but you get the point. We all tend to gather clothes and keep them although we don’t wear them, even occasionally. Over time, this can make you need another wardrobe. Instead of letting your collection of clothes grow bigger and bigger, devote an afternoon to decluttering.

You can sell your clothing, donate it, or simply throw it away, depending on the quality. The worst you can do is convince yourself you may need something in the future even though you didn’t use it for years. Whenever you feel like not throwing away an unused item, be aware that it’s the biggest sign you should actually remove it.

5. Determine possessions that take a lot of space and no longer serve you.

The more furniture you have, the more likely you are to fill them with useless possessions. Oftentimes, they take a lot of space, so you waste your time organizing, rearranging, cleaning, and storing. And the bitter truth is, you don’t use them! Almost everyone, except the serious minimalists, stores some redundant items without even questioning their purpose.

The cellar is often the place of choice to store the long-forgotten garbage which has no real value, but for some reason, we tend to keep it. When it comes to decluttering, you need to be ruthless and ignore the sense of attachment to possessions which, most of the time, turn out to be nothing but outdated junk.

6. Get rid of the garbage on your desk.

From personal experience, nothing leads to more procrastination than a chaotic desk stocked with office accessories, documents, papers, books, and dishes. At least, this is what my desk used to be like before I became a minimalist and more mindful.

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A disorganized desk is a serious focus killer. If you tend to waste your time in front of a computer, I’m almost sure your desk begs you to clean it.

Once you adapt a few simple rules, keeping your desk tidy and neat is a piece of cake! First and foremost, put your stuff where it belongs and don’t let your dishes become an inseparable part of your desk. When there are just a few items on it (in my case it’s a keyboard, mouse and two screens), cleaning it takes less than a minute!

7. Review your expenses and monthly bills.

Keeping track of your expenses is one of the best financial habits you can adopt. And if you didn’t yet, it might be the case that your expenses require some serious decluttering (so your wallet can get heavier). Determine the amount of money you spend monthly on various things. Once you have the list, look for services and subscriptions which you don’t use anymore, yet pay regularly for (what a gold customer!).

One of the examples is a gym membership you pay, even though you haven’t lifted a single weight for months. The better option would be to finally hit the gym, but if you know you won’t, stop fooling yourself and cut off the futile cost from your budget.

If there are any unnecessary expenditures, stop paying them. You’d be amazed how much more money you could save monthly by carefully reviewing your expenses.

8. Stop buying souvenirs wherever you go.

When I was younger, I had a huge tendency to buy tons of souvenirs wherever I’d go. As a result, I managed to create a sizable collection of dust gathering garbage which I thought would store the priceless memories. It was not until I realized the memories live in your mind that I was finally able to stop the pointless habit of stocking up on mementos during every occasion.

Do you have countless tiny souvenirs which clutter your shelves, windowsills, and racks? How many of them do you pick up regularly to bring the memories back? Keep the ones which do that, and donate the rest.

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There will be times when you can’t help but buy a fancy souvenir. Whenever it happens, ask yourself whether it wouldn’t be a better idea to invest in experiences.

9. Buy better quality items.

Instead of filling your home with low-quality, cheap products which don’t last very long, go for high-quality items. Oftentimes, by buying low-priced substitutes, you end up paying twice the price of a branded product only because you have to replace the crafty item over and over again.

To be clear, I don’t encourage you to look only at overpriced brands. In many cases, buying substitutes is a way better option. However, when it comes to electronics, shoes, gear, etc., by going for quality you avoid the clutter and save money over the long term.

10. Abandon time-wasting commitments.

The best way to do this is to learn that there are many things you don’t need to say yes to. Saying no at the right moment can be a life-saving decision when it comes to mental decluttering. Oftentimes, we limit ourselves through excessive commitments, responsibilities, and promises.

You need to realize that your time is precious and you are the master of it. Once you accept the full responsibility over your time and stop caring about people’s disapproval when you decline, you’ll create plenty of space for things that matter the most for you.

I will make myself clear: you shouldn’t start treating others badly. However, you should pay attention to what you spend your time on. Are there time-wasting activities which serve you no value? Replace them with some more meaningful ones.

Also, if you’d like to offer your time to people in need but you feel overwhelmed by the amount of folks who ask you for help, schedule a few days when you are available into your monthly schedule. That way, you can be both accessible and not overwhelmed.

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11. Stop pursuing too many goals at the same time.

Goal-overkill can destroy your ability to be persistent, focus on one thing, and give a hundred percent. Achievers tend to set too many goals, since they are ambitious and always aim to keep growing. However, trying to accomplish way too many things kills your progress.

My to-do lists used to be long and paralyzing. The load of items to check off was just scary. So I would procrastinate or work haggardly. As I learned my lesson the hard way, failing to complete my goals over and over again, I realized that decluttering your goals actually helps.

Don’t view it as being satisfied with mediocrity, but rather making extra space so you can fully commit to one thing that matters most.

A good way to start is to adopt a simple principle from a great book: “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.” Gary Keller shares an essential question you should ask yourself before taking action, namely: what is the one thing such that by doing it everything would be easier or unnecessary?

12. Declutter your digital world.

Nowadays, we can’t forget about digital decluttering. Ignore it, and you’ll end up surrounded by distractions whenever you enter the online world. To give you only actionable advice, let me present a few principles I use for my digital hygiene.

First of all, keep your desktop clear. There’s no need for countless icons which fight for your attention whenever you turn your computer on. Then, don’t bookmark every site that seems interesting. Eventually, you won’t read the majority of your bookmarks anyway, and saving them “for later” is a big lie, since later never arrives. Additionally, don’t install every app you stumble upon. It will not only slow down your phone, but also distract you every time you grab it to check the time or call a friend.

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Oskar Nowik

Oskar is a blogger and the author of "Brightening: The Positive Attitude That Will Change Your Life"

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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