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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 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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