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10 Smart and Efficient Ways to De-clutter Your Room

10 Smart and Efficient Ways to De-clutter Your Room

The idea of living a minimalist, uncluttered life is one that many of us aspire to. We are willing to de-clutter our rooms, own fewer possessions, and simplify our lives so that we can have less to clean, less to organize, less to worry about, and more money to spend on the things that matter.

However, many of us feel like we don’t have the energy to de-clutter and often get stuck at where and how to begin. While it’s always tough to get rid of the “good” old stuff lying around our homes, it is possible to de-clutter your room with less pain than you might think.

Here are ten smart strategies to help you efficiently de-clutter your room, drawn from various experts.

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1. Set aside a few hours to de-clutter and tidy up.

According to Washington DC’s organizing and de-cluttering guru Nicole Anzia of Neatnik.org, you should clean out and de-clutter your house a little bit each day. Refrain from setting aside an entire day to organize your whole house. Few people have the energy and/or focus to spend 8 hours straight tidying up, she says. Instead, allocate a few hours—just 2 or 3—on one project or room at a time. That way, you will be motivated to start de-cluttering and escape frustration and burnout as the day progresses.

2. Sort things into categories and discard everything that does not “spark joy.”

Sorting out involves arranging things into categories, such as things to recycle, donate, toss, and give to friends. Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” offers a simple and effective strategy for sorting out and discarding. She says discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service.

“Sparking joy” can be a flexible concept. But, according to Ms. Kondo, that which is itchy, or too hot, is certainly joyless. So is anything baggy, droopy or with a flared leg. She recommends that you hold each item in your hands and have a dialogue with yourself to determine if it sparks joy.

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3. Assess what containers you REALLY need.

Avoid going out on a buying spree to get a ton of storage supplies before you know exactly how much stuff you are packing. All those pretty boxes, baskets and bins at the Container Store won’t do you any good unless they fit the space in the closet, on the shelf or under the bed. In fact, Ms. Kondo is adamant that you don’t need to buy any organizing equipment—your home already has all the storage you need. As for containers to pack things to toss away, grab a large trash bag and see how quickly you can fill it. You may even fill a few trash bags specifically for Goodwill.

4. Finish each task—completely.

This is a crucial step: once you have sorted things out in your room and decided where everything is going to go, put them there. Don’t stack boxes or bags in your room for later delivery or for disposal at a later date. Finish the task now. That is to say, take the boxes and bags out to the trash or recycling immediately. If you are giving something to a friend or donating something to charity, put the items in your car or make arrangements for dropping them off as soon as you finish the process. You have done such a good job of tidying up, why leave it unfinished? Complete the task fully!

5. Think vertically.

In small rooms, maximize the space by thinking vertically. For example, could you hang shelves above your desk for extra papers or books? Maybe you can hang some utensils on the walls to save space in the kitchen. New York City prop stylist Erin Swift is actually a fan of displaying everyday dishes against a well-marked chalkboard wall. She says the dark backdrop allows her to clearly indicate a home for each of the items and encourages others to help restock once the dishwasher is finished. Her advice: “Draw outlines of shapely pieces if you’re the artistic type, or just say it like it is, with words.”

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6. Shred the papers.

Ms. Kondo’s de-cluttering instruction concerning papers is most liberating. She says you should just throw papers away. “There is nothing more annoying than papers,” she says firmly. “After all, papers never spark joy, no matter how carefully you keep them.” Shred sensitive papers, file important ones (if need be), and throw the rest away. You don’t really need most of the papers that you are keeping in your room anyway. Papers generally only make your room stuffy and unattractive.

7. Hang clothes—they look happier hung up.

Ms. Kondo proposes the agreeable technique of hanging clothes. She advises that you hang up anything that looks happier hung up, and arrange like with like, working from left to right, with dark, heavy clothing on the left. And she explains why: “Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure.”

8. Clear out your medicine cabinet.

Don’t forget to go through your medicine cabinet and discard outdated medicines and any other stuff in there that you don’t use, including outdated creams and ointments that you discovered don’t work on your skin. The fewer things you have in your medicine cabinet, the easier it is to find (and replace) what you need and the more clutter-free your room will be.

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9. Create a tidy tub for all the “unfindables.”

Stuff that you use in different seasons like goggles, sunscreen, and bug spray in the summer and gloves, hats, and mittens in the winter can quickly pile up and clutter your room. Design blogger Benita Larsson suggests that you find a galvanized tub and divide it into discrete compartments using “walls” of foam core for the unfindables. Place the tub at a convenient place near the entry to your room so you can arrange your stuff for grab-and-go convenience at different times of the year and for different purposes.

10. Give away one item each day. 

Don’t think that once you have organized your room, you are done. You will need to create an efficient and logical system for processing and managing incoming and outgoing items, or you might find yourself forced to clean up another mess of clutter again a month later. Colleen Madsen of 365LessThings.com gives away one item each day and recommends that you do the same. Over the past several years, she says she has experienced quite a transformation simply by reducing her stuff one day at a time.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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