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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

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 Remove old sticky notes, outdated papers and notes, junk mail, magazines, as well as any obvious trash and wrappers from your work space.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 Finally, take a good look at items you haven’t worn or used in a year or two as well as items that are hopelessly outdated.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 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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