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8 Ways to Kill Clutter in 5 Minutes

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8 Ways to Kill Clutter in 5 Minutes

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    One of the biggest reasons for the pervasive clutter in my apartment is a lack of time to deal with it. It takes longer to put a shirt away than it does to just throw it on the floor, so onto the floor it goes. As long as there’s a path from the door to my bed, I tend not to ignore and perpetuate the clutter. I’m increasingly realizing, though, that all the out-of-place stuff in my life can become a huge time drain. I spend precious minutes and hours looking for things that could be easily avoided by a better system, and a few minutes devoted to staying organized.

    In an effort to become more organized, especially in my personal space, I’ve found a few methods that can help even the busiest of us to get organized, or at least get the organization ball rolling, in only a few minutes. In the time it takes to brush my teeth or check my voicemail, I’m able to get some of the junk in my life a little more in order.

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    Here are eight ways to get in, get organized, and get out:

    One Box To Rule Them All

    Between the shelves, the desks, the drawers, the nooks and the crannies, the things I need to deal with get pretty spread out. To tackle them,  try the “One Box” method: take out a box, as large as possible, and put everything you need to deal with into it. Clear the junk off of every surface, and if you need to do something with it, don’t- just put it in the box. It’s much easier to sit down later with a box and delve into processing it, than it is to try to clean and organize all at once. I call mine the “Box of Everything,” and it will make your space cleaner and give you an easier time of processing the relevant stuff. When in doubt, put it in the box.

    The Space-Killer

    Pick a single space in your room or office- a desk, a bookshelf, a chair piled with laundry- and clean it until it’s spic-and-span. Make sure it’s a small space, as you’re trying to get this done in five minutes, but pick a spot and have a mini-cleaning bonanza. Most small spaces will only have a few items to deal with, which will make the process both easy and rewarding, as at least one small part of your mess looks immaculate.

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    Trashing Sprees

    Do a sweep of your whole space- office, bedroom, wherever you’re looking to get organized. Anything that needs to be processed or dealt with separately, leave where it is. For these five minutes, all you’re dealing with is trash-able items. Walk around with a big trash bag, and liberally dump stuff into it. I find that a huge portion of the clutter in my own room is due to things I meant to throw away, but for whatever reason didn’t before now. In five minutes, you’ll fill a trash bag and make your space look that much nicer.

    Clean from the Ground Up

    In most rooms, a dirty or cluttered floor is the most obvious sign of disorganization. There’s significant psychological benefit in a clean floor, and it’s much easier to keep the floor clean if it’s clean to begin with. Try cleaning just the floor- if something’s not touching the floor, leave it alone. Most of what’s on my floor are clothes, shoes, and other things that I have the terrible tendency to walk into my room, drop, and walk back out. With a clean floor, your space will look better and feel better to you, and likely make the task of organizing much less daunting.

    Pick It and Fill It

    Another thing prone to messing up your space is things without a home. The easiest way to fix this? Give them a home. Start by picking a place for all of a certain thing to go- let’s say DVDs. Once you’ve created a home for your DVDs, go around collecting them and putting them in their rightful place. Don’t deal with anything else except your DVDs. In just a few minutes, you can collect all your DVDs, put them where they’re supposed to be, and be done with it. Organizing your DVDs, or whatever it may be, gets a whole lot easier when they have a set home, and a home only for them.

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    Piles, Piles, Piles

    This one’s somewhat the opposite of a lot of what I’ve mentioned, but can work for me depending on my mood. Sometimes, all I want to do is make a mess so large I don’t have a choice but to clean it up. When I’m feeling this way, I dig everything out of the clever places I tend to hide things – drawers, behind and on top of other things, under my bed, and what have you. Once everything’s out, on the floor, and in front of me, I’m able to gauge what it is that I’m dealing with, and get to work. If you’re not in the mood to clean, but know you should, try this one – make the mess messier, but in a useful way.

    Pretty Systems

    Organizing is simply more fun when there’s a flashy, cool system to it. That’s why David Allen always suggested the use of a labeler for your filing system – it’s no more useful than a pen, and probably takes longer, but it’s prettier and more serious-looking. This is a great tip for when you don’t want to clean up at all: make some files. Figure out what you’ve got a lot of, and create a file for it. Make it pretty, easy to get to, and I’ve found they tend to fill themselves up somehow.

    Minimizing Space

    This is a new habit, and it’s worked wonders for me: When I’m organizing, I put duct tape over certain places: my bookshelf and my cupboard, for instance. They are off-limits, and I’m not allowed to put things in them. Now, instead of being able to just shove things in drawers and hope for an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, I have to find a useful place for them- or just get rid of them. Mostly, it’s just get rid of them. I leave myself a finite amount of space for my things, and it’s typically easy to shrink my stuff to fill the space.

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    Organizing works best in baby steps- trying to do it all at once can be overwhelming. Instead, take five minutes, and tackle one of these eight tasks- you’ll feel better, your space will look better, and organization will somehow begin to look a little bit easier.

    Photo: cogdogblog

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    Last Updated on November 22, 2021

    Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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    Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

    Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

    During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

    But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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    Simplify

    I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

    Absolutely.

    And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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    If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

    • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
    • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
    • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

    Be Mindful

    You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

    Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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    Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

    Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

    Reflect

    As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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    Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

    But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

    So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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    Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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