Excessive clutter is a sign of chaos. It’s distracting and it negatively affects productivity. Some people may have convinced themselves that clutter breeds creativity. But, in reality, it really doesn’t. To put it simply, clutter is a symptom of stress.
Often times, the mere thought of clearing clutter at work, home and in the digital space can be stressful and overwhelming. The best formula to declutter is to follow simple, fun and strategic steps.
The question that remains, however, is where do you begin?
When in doubt, make a list! Creating a list of places that need decluttering is the best way to begin. You could start off slowly by keeping the easier tasks on top of the list or you could give priority to spaces like your work desk, where you spend the most amount of time.
Stop when you’re done with one area on the list. Soaking in a clean, minimalist, clutter-free space can re-energize and motivate you to actually complete all tasks on the list.
Work space desk
The best way to approach cleaning a desk is to pile up everything up in boxes, the way you would if you were leaving an organization. Then, clean your desk with cloth or tissues and take a moment to look at your work station. It’ll give you a feeling of starting afresh, instead of reminding you of pending tasks.
Sit on your chair and from the box pick and place the essentials that you use on an everyday basis on the desk. If you are right-handed, for example, a single coaster, your phone and a stationary stand at arm’s length and perhaps a picture collage of your loved ones on a pin board on the right hand side of your desk should suffice.
The files that need immediate attention and your bag could be placed on the left and you could utilize the space under your desk or drawers to store boxes that hold everything else. Ensure that you do not, under any circumstances, pile up on your desk that papers that come in on a daily basis.
We stare at our computer screens for almost a third of our day and a cluttered, unorganized screen with too many icons, documents and folders can be quite stressful and confusing. Start decluttering with your desktop. Get rid of most of the icons on your desktop. If you are not too comfortable looking for documents in your drives, place all documents in one folder and icons and desktop shortcuts in another folder.
They’re not lying when they say home is where the heart lies. It’s another space where you spend a large part of your day and having a minimalist, organized home can help you relax and unwind as opposed to adding to your stress.
Before you start decluttering your home, get your hands on large size trash bags and boxes and a bottle full of cleaning liquid.
The living room
In your head, divide your living room into four or five sections and take up one section every day of the week. You could do the same with other rooms in the house.
Begin clearing up a space by first concealing cables connected to the entertainment systems and floor lights. Bunching them together and tying them up with Velcro strips and sticking them to the leg of the table is one idea you could play around with.
Remote controls can be systematically placed inside a decorative box as opposed to keeping them directly on the couch or on coffee tables.
Get rid of dated magazines and fill boxes with stuff you know you don’t use more than once in two, three or six months and place them in order of importance in the garage or the store room. Even better thing to do would be to donate those things.
Have a shelf dedicated for unread books, which you can easily access on a daily basis. Everything else you can either place in alphabetical order or according to categories like fiction, non-fiction, cooking etc.
Empty out your pantry and clean the area with a non-toxic cleaner. A vinegar solution works the best. Label bottles and jars and identify dedicated shelves for flours, spices and herbs, oils, sauces, snacks and cereal etc.
Repeat the process with your refrigerator. Empty it out, give it a good scrub and identify sections for bottled goods, dairy products, cheeses, raw food and cooked leftovers.
Organize the cutlery and utensils based on usage. The most visible and easy to access closets, shelves and drawers can become home to utensils, cutlery and table linen that you use on a daily basis.
The best place to start decluttering your room is your bed. Replace the sheets and arrange the pillows. A neat bed will help you resist the temptation to jump in and take long breaks in between a cleaning session.
While cleaning your room, have three bags or large boxes and challenge yourself to a number game. For example, play a game of 10 or a game of 15. Identify 15 things to throw away and 15 things to donate. Most of these things will be hidden somewhere in your drawers and closets.
If you can’t decide what to get rid off or donate, ask yourself simple questions like:
- Would I buy this if I went out shopping today? If the answer is no, you know you don’t want the thing.
- When was the last time I used this? If the answer is anywhere beyond three to six months then it’s likely that you can do without the item.
If you still can’t take a call, ask friends for help. They’re usually more ruthless, objective and detached when it comes to your things.
After going through your declutter checklist, when life is a simpler and less stressful, you could perhaps consider decluttering your car, organizing your daily schedule and even having a functional schedule for your meals and commitments.