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.
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.
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.
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.
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.