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8 Ways to Kill Clutter in 5 Minutes

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 March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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