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7 Ways to Clear the Clutter and Find your Life

7 Ways to Clear the Clutter and Find your Life
    Photo credit: oneonethreefour (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    Is clutter taking over your life?

    Maybe it is and you don’t even realize it. As a personal productivity coach I work with clients helping them organize their lives to work more efficiently and achieve more of what they want from life.

    On one occasion I was working with a business owner who was experiencing a lot of stress and feeling very overwhelmed. We started by clearing her office of clutter. While we sifted through the mountains of paperwork and the many notebooks on her desk, she found a check for 1,800 euro that she had forgotten to cash. Her life was so disorganized and out of control that she did not miss that check.

    If you can relate to my client and have had a similar experience, it may be time to take back the control. Clearing the clutter can be a clever place to start.

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    1. Start small

    Just like creating new habits the trick is to start small. Don’t try to tackle too much all at once; it usually ends in frustration, dissatisfaction and ultimate abandon. Choose a small area or one drawer to get started and schedule time to complete the task. It usually works better to schedule time rather than have a physical plan because often the de-cluttering takes longer than expected. If you spend hours trying to de-clutter a space to not achieve it can turn the expedition into a negative experience.

    2. Make sure everything has a place

    One of the reasons we allow clutter to accumulate is because we don’t know where to put it. We move things around from surface to surface not quite knowing what to do with them. Create a place for everything and if necessary go out and buy more storage containers. But be careful, the more storage containers you have the more you will fill.

    3. One in two out

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    You have probably heard of this tactic before. Every time you buy something new, throw out or give away two things, this will ensure the quantity of items you own decreases over time rather than the gradual creep of belongings. It also prevents you from buying unnecessary things as you know you will have to throw out some possessions when you get home.

    4. Become a charity King or Queen

    Know that every time you donate clothes, books or toys to a charity shop you are helping people. Rather than let things clutter up your drawers they could be doing good in the world. Separating yourself from your belongings becomes easier if you are doing it for a purpose.

    5. Remember objects don’t define the person

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    For years I kept a snowboard in the corner of my sitting room as it represented the person I wanted to be — bold and carefree. I live in a country that doesn’t have mountains with snow. I wasn’t very good at the sport and at best I could go snowboarding once a year. Sounds ridiculous when you look at it objectively, but for me it represented a part of my life I didn’t want to let go of. Selling my snowboarding gear was a liberating experience. I felt the moment I let it go out the door I matured. I am who I am and don’t need an object to express my personality.

    6. Create rituals to prevent clutter creep

    If you manage to de-clutter and get things under control, how are you going to prevent the clutter from coming back into your life?

    Create rituals. Do the washing up straight after dinner, get the children to tidy their toys before bed, tidy up time comes before lunch every day. By creating rituals for certain events they become so much a part of your everyday life they don’t feel like a hassle. These little rituals just like brushing your teeth before bed become semi-automated and help to keep your life under control.

    7. Music and celebration

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    Turn on your favorite music and get started. Music can uplift and inspire, it can turn the most mundane task into something enjoyable. When you have finished acknowledge your achievements and reward yourself, something you should do with all areas of your life. Great things deserve recognition and celebration. Treat yourself and admire your hard work.

    If you have any more de-clutter tips I would love to hear them

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

    Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

    Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

    Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination:

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    1. Make a list of your goal destinations

    Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

    So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

    Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

    If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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    2. Think about the time frame to have the goal accomplished

    This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

    Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

    3. Write down your goals clearly

    Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

    For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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    4. Write down what you need to do for each goal

    Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

    These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

    5. Write down your timeframe with specific and realistic dates

    Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

    For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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    Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

    6. Schedule your to-dos

    Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

    Write these action points on a schedule so that you have definite dates on which to do things.

    7. Review your progress

    At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

    Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

    Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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