Leo Babauta at Zen Habits has created a list of steps to help you declutter your life. Babauta breaks down why we keep clutter around for so long, as well as reasons why we should get rid of it. Many people attempt to rid their lives of the small objects that quickly pile up on coffee tables, kitchen counters, and desks, but feel overwhelmed and give up too easily. As Babauta says, “These steps won’t get your home decluttered in a weekend. But you can enjoy the first step, and then the second, and before you know it you’ve taken 30 steps and your home is transformed.”
- Start small. One of the reasons that people get overwhelmed when attempting to organize their lives is that they try to take on too much too quickly. Starting with simplifying one area will make the task seem much more doable.
- Work in chunks. This is to say that you should work with the time that you have. If you know that you’ll only have 10-15 minutes a day during the week to work on your organization, then stick to that. But if you have a few free hours on Saturday afternoon, use that time to accomplish some clutter busting.
- Follow a simple method. Find a system that works for you and stick to it. Babauta suggests putting things to be sorted in a pile and working through it by deciding whether to get rid of an item or keep it. If he chooses to keep it, he must find a specific place for it and put it there. This system seems easy to follow and simple, but if there is another way that works better for you, then go with that.
- Put stuff in your trunk. Once you’ve cleared out everything that you will no longer keep, put it somewhere so that you will remember to take it to a donation site or the dump.
- Talk to anyone involved. Make sure that everyone living in your space (house, apartment, etc.) understands why you’re doing this, and definitely don’t throw away or donate anything belonging to them without asking first. You can ask them for help with the project, but understand that they may not cooperate, especially right away. Be patient with those around you.
- Notice your resistance. Take note of the types of items that you are reluctant to get rid of. Babauta says that “You can give in to the resistance, but at least pay attention to it.” It is completely normal to form emotional attachment to certain objects, and getting rid of these can be tough.
- Enjoy the process. Viewing something as a chore is never a good way to ensure that you will do it. Focus on the positive way that organization and decluttering makes you feel, and this task will seem more fun.