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Last Updated on July 4, 2018

10 Helpful Tips To Effectively Declutter Your Home

10 Helpful Tips To Effectively Declutter Your Home

Is your house full of clutter?

Are you looking for some help to finally get things under control?

Decluttering is the act of removing clutter, or all those things that impede your ability to use your living space(s) as they were meant to be used. Clutter can be made up of items you no longer need or want, or that do not belong in a particular space, area or room. It’s important to remove clutter from your home so you can find what you need when you need it, fully enjoy your space and give your mind and eyes a much-needed rest from unsightly piles of stuff.

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Here are ten helpful tips to help you get rid of clutter in your home…once and for all!

1. Set aside small sessions of time to declutter.

Think you can effectively declutter your entire house in one day? Think again! As strange as this might seem, decluttering takes a lot of effort, energy and concentration. Not only are you sorting through and identifying lots of different items, you are making decisions as to what to do with all of your things. Instead of spending hours upon hours decluttering a space or room, work in small increments of time such as 15 or 20 minutes per session. Set a timer if you need to.

2. Remove and process clutter in different areas of your home.

It’s not uncommon to become “clutter-blind” or overly accustomed to clutter in a particular space. The clutter has been there for such a long time that you are used it; it starts to seem like it belongs in a particular area of your home! However, once you move a stack of makeup clutter from your bathroom to your living room, it suddenly becomes clear that the clutter doesn’t belong there. Put things in perspective and process clutter from one room in an entirely different room. Collect clutter in a basket, box, bag or other container and move it to another room for processing.

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3. Have a trash and recycling bag/bin handy.

You’ll want to make it as easy as possible to dispose of items when you declutter. In order to make things run as smoothly as possible, make sure you have trash and recycling bags/bins handy. For personal or sensitive papers and  information, run it through a shredder before discarding it. Once your decluttering session is over, place the unwanted stuff in bins outside of your house or apartment so it doesn’t have a chance to get back inside your home.

4. Declutter from top to bottom.

Ever hear you should clean a house from top to bottom? This also applies to decluttering. When you clean your house, you’re getting rid of all the stuff you don’t want: dust, dander, dirt, fuzz, etc. Similarly, when you declutter, you’re either getting rid of, reorganizing or readjusting the location of items. Declutter your home from top to bottom, starting at the top level of the home, such as the attic or bedrooms, working your way down the bottom level, such as the basement or garage. Your home will undergo a total transformation and there won’t be any doubt as to whether or not you’ve decluttered a particular area of the house.

5. Declutter a room from the inside out.

Have a lot of clutter in a particular room? You may want to declutter this room from the center space to the perimeter or walls. Not only will you make it easier for you get in and out of the room, you’ll also be able to see progress that much faster. For starters, you’ll be able to see a clear floor space! Start with clutter located in the area nearest the door and then work your way from the center of the room to the walls. You may then decide to declutter items in a clockwise or counterclockwise fashion inside the room so you can see the progress you’ve made.

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6. Try the “grab and go” approach.

However, if you’ve got a lot of clutter in a particular area or space and aren’t sure where to start, simply grab a small stack of clutter and get to work. You could use a small basket, box, bag or container to temporarily house this small pile of clutter. This way, you have a small, contained and finite amount of clutter to process and focus upon without being overwhelmed with a large mass of stuff.

7. Make signs to help with the decluttering process.

Decluttering isn’t always about throwing stuff away, sometimes it means sorting through stack of items you actually want to keep. Whenever you begin a decluttering session, consider writing up small signs to help you easily identify what’s what. Sure, you could make small signs out of index cards with the obvious phrases of “Trash” and “Recycle,” but why not expand those cards to places where you’ll eventually need to relocate items? If you’re sorting through items in your kitchen and find items that belong in other areas of the home you could make cards that read, “Living Room,” “Home Office,” “Basement,” and so on.

8. Take an objective look at your things.

When it comes to decluttering, it helps to take a practical look at your belongings and how you are, or are not, using them. Ask yourself some of the following types of questions as you tackle your stuff: Have you used said item(s) in the past year? Are you making use of the item right now? Are you saving an item because you think you might need it in future? Do you like the item, or do you no longer have interest in the item? How is the item adding value to your life and home? Is the item weighing you down and preventing you from doing the things you’d otherwise like to do?

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9. Let go of useless, broken, outdated and otherwise unusable stuff.

A broken toaster, an MP3 player from seven years ago, outdated fashion magazines…. what do these items have in common? For starters, they won’t be of much practical use to you unless you’re starting a memorabilia museum or collection. Broken, busted and otherwise unusable stuff just becomes a headache over time in your home. It sits there taking up space and sucks your energy and attention away from what really matters. If you’re looking for an easy way to decide whether or not to chuck something, ask yourself whether it is broken, outdated or unusable and whether you want it to be a part of your life now…and in future!

10. Don’t wait for the perfect time to declutter.

When’s the perfect time to declutter? When things are slightly cluttered or chaotic beyond belief? Actually, there is no perfect time to declutter. It’s all about learning how to keep things in check and under control. Take time to regularly declutter the rooms of your home so things don’t get too out of hand. You could set a regular weekly schedule to declutter small areas of the home to keep things neat and tidy. You’ll save yourself from marathon decluttering sessions in the future if you just attend to a little bit of clutter right now.

What areas of your home seem to be clutter magnets? Are you looking forward to finally taming the clutter once and for all? Leave a comment below.

Featured photo credit: Organized Closet/Emily May via flickr.com

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Rashelle Isip

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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