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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 September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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