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8 Ways To Declutter Your Home

8 Ways To Declutter Your Home

Looking to declutter your life this year? Why not start with your home? Here are 8 simple ways to declutter your home.

1. Determine why you want to declutter

Before you start, think about why you want to declutter. Do you want to live a more simple lifestyle? Are you hoping to sell some items for extra cash? Is your goal to have less items to make your home life more efficient?

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Having a meaningful reason for your decluttering efforts will help you stay motivated when it gets tough. Decluttering is a lot of work, so decide exactly why you’re doing it, and remember this reason when it gets tough.

2. If you’re not sure where to start, try your bedroom closet

I started with my bedroom closet and have gradually been streamlining my wardrobe. It feels great to get rid of clothes that are outdated, poor-fitting, or just taking up space in your closet. Now I have less clothes, but I’ve found that having a small amount of items I love is much more enjoyable than a closet packed full of items I only somewhat like. Starting with your closet can help you build momentum to declutter the rest of your home. Since your closet is a place you use every day, decluttering your closet will allow you to immediately see the results of your efforts. Plus, having only clothes that you feel great in can build your confidence, and you’ll spend less time searching for what to wear each day.

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3. Think of the habits involved in cluttered areas

Think about where you tend to accumulate clutter. For me, this is my kitchen counter. The biggest source of clutter on my counter is incoming and outgoing mail. Therefore, I’ve been streamlining this process. Instead of letting mail sit on my counter in a big messy pile, I’ve sorted it immediately into a small bin for the appropriate recipient, and junk mail is immediately thrown away. That way, I don’t end up looking through the mail multiple times. I have gradually automated most bills, which helps decrease the mail pile and streamlines my finances. Outgoing mail now has a designated spot. This is still a work in progress, but it has become much more efficient and less cluttered with these changes.

4. When you purchase a new item, get rid of 2 items

One way to gradually declutter your home is to get rid of more than one item every time you purchase something. This has worked great for me to declutter the kids’ items they’ve outgrown. When they get new clothes or new toys, I give what they’ve outgrown to friends with younger children. When you get rid of 2 items per every item purchased, you will slowly declutter your home and the process doesn’t feel nearly as overwhelming as a giant overhaul all at once.

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5. Turn your hangers around in your closet

Turn all your hangers backward in your closet. If you wear the item on the backward-facing hanger, turn it back around so it is forward-facing. After a predetermined amount of time (6 months, 1 year, or another amount of time you choose), get rid of any clothing items on the backward-facing hangers, because you haven’t worn them in a while.

6. Get your whole family involved

As you work on decluttering, involve the entire family. Even young kids can put shoes away, match socks, and help pick up toys. Work on developing designated places for certain items, and make sure everyone in your family understands where these items go.

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7. Consider rotating toys

I have 3 very young kids, and the playroom looks like a disaster some days. One thing that is helping (although it’s still mass chaos here at times) is to rotate the kids’ toys. We put some items in a bin and rotate the toys every couple of weeks. That way, the kids are really excited to play with their toys and there is less clutter.

8. Think about why you have your belongings

Getting rid of certain items can be so freeing. As you work on decluttering, think about an item you’re struggling to get rid of. Is it useful? If so, have you used it in the recent past? Do you love it, or would you not even miss it if you got rid of it?  Getting rid of certain items can be tough when you have an emotional attachment to them. Certain things were hard for me to get rid of, as I’m pretty sentimental, but I can’t even explain how freeing it felt to get rid of things.

Decluttering is an ongoing process. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it feels great to have a less-cluttered home.

Featured photo credit: Steve Larkin/https://flickr.com via flickr.com

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Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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