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10 Helpful Tips To Effectively Declutter Your Home

10 Helpful Tips To Effectively Declutter Your Home
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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.

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

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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