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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 June 18, 2019

            The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

            The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

            No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

            Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

            Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

            A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

            Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

            In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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            From Making Reminders to Building Habits

            A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

            For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

            This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

            The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

            That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

            Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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            The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

            Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

            But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

            The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

            The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

            A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

            For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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            But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

            If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

            For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

            These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

            For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

            How to Make a Reminder Works for You

            Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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            Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

            Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

            My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

            Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

            I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

            More About Habits

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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