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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 July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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