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10 Things To Start With If You Want To Remove Clutter From Your Life

10 Things To Start With If You Want To Remove Clutter From Your Life
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Is clutter weighing you down at home and the office?

Not sure where to start when it comes to clearing things out?

Here are 10 clutter-clearing ideas to help you simplify and streamline your life.

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Tidy up your desk.

Do you find it difficult to work on your desk or find office supplies when you need them? Remove old sticky notes, outdated papers and notes, junk mail, magazines, as well as any obvious trash and wrappers from your work space. Corral office supplies such as pens, paper clips and pushpins in small decorative containers, or store items in flat storage bins or trays in your desk drawers. Don’t forget to chuck any broken office supplies or dead plants that are on your desk or sitting in your office.

Clear out your closet.

Closets are notorious for being cluttered with anything and everything from last year’s spring shirts to shoes from the 80s. Begin by purging any clothes that are obviously stained, damaged, ripped, torn, or no longer fit. Next, remove any clothing and accessories you no longer want or need. Finally, take a good look at items you haven’t worn or used in a year or two as well as items that are hopelessly outdated. Will you really use these items soon, say tomorrow or even in a months’ time? It might be time to bite the bullet and say goodbye to these items.

Deal with junk drawers.

Crack open that drawer you know you are afraid to open…it’s time to do some much needed cleaning! First, pull out any items you can easily identify and know you will use and set them aside. Second, get rid of anything that is broken, expired, leaking, damaged, mismatched or missing a mate or working part. Third, donate or give away any sealed items or products you no longer want or unnecessary duplicates you do not need (do you really need five can openers if there’s only two of you in the house?)

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Sort out your files.

Pull together any loose files that are floating around the house or your office. Go through each of the files and check the contents. If files are still active, file them; if files are inactive, be sure to archive them. Any material that is expired and/or no longer needed should be shredded and properly recycled. Do you have any duplicate files or one too many files for a particular project or item? Consolidate the contents of files where you can to save space and clean up your filing system.

Tackle clutter in the rooms of your home.

An easy way to figure out what constitutes clutter in a room is simply what doesn’t belong or doesn’t add value to a particular room. It could also be anything that is an eyesore, or that makes you grit your teeth or turn your eyes the other way when you come across it! Take a look at the different rooms of your home. What doesn’t belong? What items should be processed and taken care of? Common household clutter includes items such as unopened mail, junk mail, old magazines, books, receipts, bags filled with recycling materials and the like.

Dust off daily routines.

Is your daily routine cluttered? That is, is there an easier way to do something in your daily routine or is there actual physical clutter that hinders or blocks you from actually physically doing something? Maybe there’s a simpler or easier way to get to work instead of your normal route? Could you clean up that pile of junk at the foot of your bed that you always trip over on your way to the dresser or closet? Take a minute or two to think about what tiny changes you could make in your daily routine to make things a little bit easier for yourself.

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Give your computer a cleanse.

Clutter can appear in many different forms on your computer. Consider clearing out files from your desktop screen (file items or delete them), cleaning out or emptying your computer’s trash or recycle bin, defragmenting your drive, or getting rid of applications and programs you no longer use. Finish things off by wiping down your computer’s screen and keyboard with an appropriate computer cleansing solution and cloth to clear off dirt and germs.

Reassess your commitments to friends, family and coworkers.

Overpromising your time is one way to clutter up your schedule. If you can’t truly commit to appointments, you are creating unnecessary havoc in your calendar and chaos in your life. Clear out mental clutter by removing yourself from commitments, appointments and meetings you know you can’t possibly keep. Take care to be more conscious in future as to how you offer your time and energy to friends, family and coworkers. Remember, a cluttered and chaotic mind helps no one!

Overhaul your information intake systems.

Pop-quiz: how many RSS feeds do you follow? What about all of your email and magazine subscriptions? How many people, businesses and organizations do you follow on social media? Chances are you probably have lots of information coming at you from different angles over the course of a single day. Unsubscribe from RSS feeds you haven’t touched in weeks, email subscriptions you don’t read and be choosy about who you follow, friend and like on social media channels.

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Declutter your car.

Your car is a busy place: you bring things in and out of it, leave things in it…basically stuff tends to pile up over time. Grab a trash bag and a small box and head over to your car. Be sure to get to clear out these areas: the glove compartment, trunk, driver side console, front passenger console and the backseat. Trash any junk and clutter you find. Use the small box to collect and transport items you need to bring into the house or office.

Where does clutter seem to accumulate the most in your life? What plans do you have to tackle it? Leave a comment below.

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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