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5 Strategies To Declutter Your Home For A Happier Life

5 Strategies To Declutter Your Home For A Happier Life

A house is a representation of a person’s mind, and a cluttered house represents a cluttered mind that cannot focus properly. You look at scattered cardboard boxes, clothes which you have not worn in a year, and feel intimidated at the prospect of trying to clean all of this up.

But as great men like Warren Buffet and Henry David Thoreau can tell you, simplicity is one of the great virtues. By not wasting so much and by living a simple life where you only have what you need, you can gain focus and will, especially without that useless clutter annoying your mind.

Here are 5 important tips to declutter your home and living a simpler, more focused, and happier life.

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1. Do A Little Bit at A Time

Cleaning up a cluttered home is similar to starting a new exercise routine. If you try to do everything at once, the only thing that will happen is that you feel overwhelmed, give up, and end up accomplishing nothing.

Start small. Focus on one area of the house every day and try to keep clutter away from that one place. Devote a few minutes every day or at least once a week to keep that place clean. Then expand that area a bit at a time, picking up stuff which you have not used. If you can spend 30 minutes every day, if not every week removing stuff and trying to store it, that can go a long way towards removing immediate clutter and turning organization into a routine.

2. Come Up with An Organizational System

You need to have a planned system before you can properly organize. What that system looks like can vary according to your tastes and what you believe you need. One recommended method is the four box method. This method sees you look at every single object you have cluttered away and decide whether to keep the item, sell or donate it, trash it, or store it.

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But the method you use matters less than the fact that you have a method. Make a list which determines what items are valuable and what items you are hoarding for a “rainy day” that will actually never come.

3. Act Like You Are Moving

Implementing a method where you determine whether you will keep or throw away an item is important, but it is too easy to just “store” an item while you inwardly acknowledge that you may never use it.

So how can you know which items are truly important? One great method is to pretend that you are moving to a new home. Moving always means that you toss out plenty of items which will not have value and cannot fit in your car or moving van.

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Find out what those items are by acting like you are moving. Ask yourself if you would keep or use the item if you ever planned to use. If the answer is ever “no”, then get rid of it.

4. Understand The Donation Process

There is more to donating old items than driving up to the local Goodwill and dumping everything out of your trunk. Even thrift shops will not accept some threadbare, dirty rags which you have not worn in ages.

Make sure that your clothes are properly prepared before you take them to a charity place or shelter. Wash them, make sure that the pockets are empty, and put them in a garbage bag or cardboard box. If you intend to donate a lot of clothing, try to organize it so that pants, shirts, and different kinds of clothing are all in their own containers. That way, the charity will have an easier time handling your clothes.

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Also try to make donating a regular event, just like decluttering. If you can make a routine of donating, it will go a long ways towards ensuring that you regularly dispose of unwanted clothes and clutter

5. Don’t Forget Digital Clutter

A computer is an important part of our life, and we store all sorts of things on it. Old papers which we wrote for work or college five years ago, photos which you never look at, movies which you downloaded but never got around to watching.

Cleaning up digital computer matters just as much as the physical clutter, especially because excessive digital clutter can slow down your computer and creates mental clutter. If you have over a large amount of unread messages on your e-mail, take some time to read, or at least delete them. Go over old documents or files. If you haven’t opened them in a long time, then you should probably declutter them.

Just because you can store gigabyte after gigabyte of useless information does not mean you should. Take care to organize your computer, just like you take care to organize your house.

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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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