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How to Conquer Your Messy Room Fast but Not Furious

How to Conquer Your Messy Room Fast but Not Furious

Do you find yourself surrounded by piles of papers, unread magazines, and books you are holding on to in case you may want to read them in the future? Is your closet bursting with clothes, half of which haven’t seen the light of day in years? Do you feel like you are drowning under an uncontrollable mess? Take charge and declutter your life right now.

Living under piles and tiptoeing down that small path through personal possessions just to reach your bed is not only unhealthy for your body, with dust mites, possible mold and more, but also detrimental to your mind. Clearing your physical space will also free the clutter from your mind.

Decluttering will not only make you healthier, but all of the clean, open spaces will also make you happier.

The hardest part of decluttering your life can be letting go. You have to decide what to throw out and what to keep. Some stuff is cut and dry. Old and broken? Chuck. No longer used? Recycle or give away.

What about the blurred lines? You may place personal value on items, like that misshapen clay horse your 36 year old son presented to you in kindergarten. At 36, chances are he may not even remember it. Does it make you happy? Keep it. But if you find yourself under a mountain of these meaningful mementos, it may be a sign to let go.

Tackle Your Clutter in 15 Minute Intervals

If you are facing a daunting mess of ginormous proportions, you may feel like giving up before you even start. Don’t! Tackle your clutter in smaller chunks of time.[1] Set a timer for 15 minutes and work on clearing a room. When the alarm goes off, walk away and do something else. You can choose to return later for another 15 minute stint, or just do 15 minutes a day. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in those 15 minutes.

Don’t Let Yourself Go Off on a Tangent

It’s so easy to find that marble rabbit statue your Aunt Elsie gave to you and suddenly wonder how she is and end up in a two hour phone conversation catching up. Stop yourself from going down that rabbit hole. Focus on clearing your clutter during your allotted time. You can call Aunt Elsie later.

Declutter Your House Room By Room

Go through each room in your house methodically, one at a time.[2] Clear the items that you no longer need or use from drawers, closets and under beds. Make a stack of things you use and things you can recycle or give away. When you are done, box up the recyclables and stash in your car to drop off at the local thrift store. Then put back all the things you are keeping.

Go through each room from one end to the other

Clear a work space for yourself and declutter your chosen room starting from one end of the room, making your way to the other. Don’t jump around. It will only add mess upon mess and have you throwing up your hands in defeat.

Declutter Your Wardrobe

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    Clearing out your wardrobe

    Keep two big trash bags or boxes on hand when you go through the items in your wardrobe. In one throw all those clothes that are soiled, damaged or too worn out. You will be throwing these away. In the second box place all those clothes that you haven’t worn in more than six months, except for season items like jackets and scarves/swimsuits and sarongs that you will be wearing for that time of year. Donate the second box to a charity shop or thrift store. You you are going through your kids clothes, pass them on to a family with kids younger than yours.

    Keeping a seasonal wardrobe

    Still facing too many clothes? Consider having a seasonal wardrobe to free up space in that closet and in those drawers. When you are facing warm weather, pack up the winter coats, scarves and long sleeve shirts. When the temperatures take that winter nose dive, break out the winter wear and pack up those shorts and swimsuits. Place a dryer sheet or two in the box when storing clothes to keep them fresh smelling. It also helps keep moths at bay.

    Declutter Your Bathroom

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      Dealing with old products

      Go through all of the drawers in your bathroom, and the space under the sink. Toss out any old products that you no longer use, like that neon pink hairspray from two Halloweens ago. Do you have a bunch of those little hotel shampoos? Combine them together. Use organizers to hold cotton buds, cotton balls, toothbrushes and makeup. Throw any old makeup out.

      Cleaning your medicine chest

      Remove all the medicine from your medicine chest. Throw out everything that is out of date. Have a box ready to chuck the old medicine Have half a bottle of diet pills from two years ago? Toss. Clean out the chest and replace only what you use. Most medicines can be safely disposed in the trash, but some have substances harmful to children and pets. If you are in doubt, the FDA provides guidelines for disposing medications safely.

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      Tidying Your Kitchen

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        Clear your kitchen counters

        Keep your counters clear. Have an espresso machine collecting dust? Consider selling it or put it in a cupboard. Remove anything that you don’t use on a daily basis. If you have any item in your kitchen that you haven’t used in over six months, stick it in a box to donate, sell, or recycle.

        Invest in storage containers and organizers

        Consider purchasing organizers for your drawers and storage containers for your food. Putting the sugar, flour, coffee, and tea into tidy, clean, matching containers will make your kitchen look more organized and uniform than leaving everything in their original packaging.

        Keep the kitchen clean

        Clean up your kitchen anytime you are making a meal. Put away spice jars, toss out empty boxes or jars. When you cook a meal, wash the pots and pans immediately after use and store before sitting down to eat. After a meal, clean up, washing dishes and putting away any condiments, leftovers, etc. When you or someone else walks into a clean kitchen, they are more apt to throw their trash into the bin and place dishes in the sink.

        Dealing with Paper Piles

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          Sorting your mail

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          Tackle your papers by throwing out the stuff you don’t need and organizing the rest. Deal with mail the moment it comes in the house by chucking out the junk mail. Any bills open and write the due date and amount on the outside of the envelope (give yourself leeway if it is to be mailed or your automated system takes a few days). Place bills in a basket according to due date.

          Using a filing system

          Keep a small filing system with different folders, labeled accordingly in which to place important papers, and items required for end of year taxes. Paid bills should be placed in these folders as well.

          Keeping track of your kids’ papers

          Have kids? Make a file for each of them in which to put important school papers such as teacher information, class syllabus, report cards and progress reports. Any papers they give you during the year can be stashed into these files.

          The moment school is out for summer, go through these folders and chuck the papers. You child doesn’t want to see his fifth grade math test when he’s 25, even if it was a A. If there are items you simply cannot part with, like that incredible report on Jamestown or that painting that looks like a Picasso, store in a ‘keep’ file.

          Handling boxes of photographs

          Scan your old photos and store digital copies on a flash drive or external hard drive- just in case that computer crashes. There are companies that can take all of your old VCR home movies and make them into easy to store digital copies too. Purchase an organizer to keep them safe and dust free.

          Dealing with laundry

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            Dirty Laundry

            Have a laundry basket located in each bedroom, in which everyone should place their dirty clothes. Make it clear that only clothes in these baskets will be washed, not the items strewn over furniture or dropped onto the floor. Stick to this and eventually when those favorite jeans are dirty on that important day, they’ll get the message.

            Clean Laundry

            Do never-ending piles of laundry occupy every free chair in your living room, threatening to topple over? Deal with laundry each load at a time. Fold the laundry as you remove it from the dryer or line. This saves massive amounts of ironing as well. Then sort it in one location and put away the clothes there and then, placing stray socks in a drawer to be sorted weekly- ther are always stray socks! Ideally, you can get each family member to put away their own clothes too!

            So, you’ve cleaned your house. Congratulations! Now how do you stop that clutter from piling up again?

            Stop bringing it home!

            Before you swing by that yard sale to pick up the china ballerina figurine that catches your eye, ask yourself these questions:

            • Do you really need it, or do you just want it?
            • Will it bring value to your life now?
            • Will it be valuable to you in the future?

            If the figurine is a priceless find that you plan on unloading on eBay, go for it. However if you want it just because it’s cute, stop yourself. Don’t bring it home. You can always stick all that money you save from unnecessary purchases in a jar and opt for a memory-making clutter-free vacation instead!

            Feel really painful when letting go of stuff? It could be an illness.

            Do you have feel physical pain when parting with possessions? Hoarding is a real illness.[3] A psychological disorder. Hoarding puts an emotional, financial, and social strain on you and your family.

            If you have a real inability to let go of possessions, you may want to seek professional counseling.

            Reference

            More by this author

            Sally White

            writer, artist & blogger

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            Last Updated on April 19, 2021

            The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

            The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

            Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

            The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

            Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

            In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

            When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

            Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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            1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

            When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

            As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

            That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

            The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

            What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

            Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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            There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

            So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

            2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

            When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

            No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

            3. Move Your Body

            A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

            It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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            So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

            4. Connect With Another Person

            Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

            One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

            Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

            5. Use Your Imagination

            When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

            That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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            And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

            Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

            Final Thoughts

            Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

            Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

            More on the Importance of Taking a Break

            Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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