Do you want to declutter your life?
Are you looking for some practical tips on how to let go of items that no longer serve you?
Feeling stifled, squeezed, and uncomfortable in your daily life can really put a damper on things.
Fortunately, you can take active steps to remove stagnant, energy-sucking items, and give yourself a bit of breathing room.
Keep in mind, the act of decluttering doesn’t just apply to removing physical items found around the home and office.
You can declutter lots of things, from physical items, to calendar entries, to thoughts, and more!
In this post, I offer several tips to help you declutter your life.
Try these tips and you may find yourself feeling a little bit lighter, freer, and more comfortable.
Choose one area of your life to declutter.
When it comes to decluttering items from your life, it definitely helps to have focus.
That being said, you should first begin by selecting one main area of your life to declutter. Doing so will allow you to put more put more of your mental and physical energies towards actually removing items you no longer need, use, or like.
Where could you benefit the most from some much-needed decluttering? Choose from one of the following areas in your life:
Work and school. This covers anything related to work or school. This includes preparations for work or school, your physical work or school environment, such as a cubicle, office, desk, or study area, and work or school related activities such as pro bono work, and extracurricular activities like clubs and sports teams.
Home. This covers anything related to your house or apartment. This includes physical items located within the home, such as furniture, home accents, paperwork, clothing, accessories, toiletries, linens, books, kitchenware, cookware, photographs, keepsakes, sports equipment, collections, and so on.
Personal. This covers anything that is of a personal nature to you. This includes your health, diet, exercise routine, hobbies, studies, volunteer work, relationships, thoughts and outlook, and personal projects.
Now, you may be thinking, “Choose just one area? But I want to do a through decluttering! There’s so much that I want to get rid of, right now.” Don’t worry! You can always can go through this decluttering process, again and again. We’re just keeping things simple so you can make the most of your efforts, right now.
So, for the time being, just choose one area to work in. You can always work in another area at a later date.
Once you’ve selected an area of your life to declutter, you can move on to the next step…
Identify what pains or bothers you the most in that area.
Okay, so you’ve chosen an area of your life to declutter. What’s the next step? Well, you’re going to go on a little bit of a hunt to identify what pains or bothers you the most, right now, within your selected category.
The thought behind this exercise is that once you identify, and appropriately declutter the items that most give you grief right now, the better off you’ll feel. You can think of this exercise as minimizing your pain, and maximizing your comfort.
For example, if you had to choose between wearing a thick and itchy sweater for thirty minutes, or wearing a soft and fluffy sweater for thirty minutes, which one would you choose? (I know which one I’d choose!)
Now, there’s probably at least one thing that is bothering or annoying you, right now. It’s been silently sitting there, gnawing at you, and making you feel uncomfortable. You may not have specifically named this pain, but it’s there, nonetheless.
It could be something as simple as a room or collection of items in your home you constantly avoid, a task you absolutely dread working on, or just some nagging, uncomfortable feeling that makes your stomach turn into a knot every time you think about it.
For clarity’s sake, let’s go through a few examples of common pain points, right now:
- A giant stack of unnecessary papers sitting on your desk
- An overflowing email inbox
- Unnecessary work or study meetings
- An outdated scheduling system that needs to be upgraded
- An ancient smart phone app or desktop program that is obsolete
- A productivity skill that doesn’t fit with your way of working
- An extracurricular activity you no longer enjoy
- A clothes closet filled with clothes you no longer wear
- Personal grooming and makeup products you no longer use
- Oversized furniture that is too large for your current home
- Numerous kitchen gadgets that you never use
- A collection of books you no longer read
- Broken or damaged electronics that are beyond repair
- Old papers and notes you no longer need
- A workout routine you find absolutely boring
- A goal that is no longer relevant to your way of life
- A relationship with a friend or acquaintance that is completely draining
- Volunteer sessions that don’t work with your schedule at the moment
- A hobby you’ve grown out of or have long-since abandoned
- Sports equipment you no longer use
- A diet that is poor or unhealthy for your wellbeing
As you can see, there’s of different pain points that exist. The point here is to find things that really bother you, get on your nerves, or are flat-out exhausting. To make things easier for yourself, you can make a list of your pain points so they’re easier to track.
Create a decluttering plan.
After you’ve created your list of pain points, the next step is to take the first item on the top of your list and make a plan to declutter it from your life. Get ready, because you’re now going to create a series of small action steps for you to follow, so you can get rid of the old, and make room for the new.
These steps should be small tasks that you can work on every day, that will bring you closer towards removing the pain point from your life. Be sure to include any preparation steps you may need to take, as well as any relevant clean-up or wrap up steps.
Plan on spending no more than thirty minutes a day for each task. You want to have time to comfortably do your work, and not be rushed or overwhelmed. Should a task stretch across two or several days, so be it. As long as you’re making a little bit of progress each day, you’re good to go.
For example, let’s say you chose the personal area to declutter. You’ve outgrown your hobby of dollhouse making and are ready for a change in your life. You could make the following decluttering plan:
- Gather and donate craft magazines and books to local library or reading center
- Gather and donate wood, paint, and materials to local after-school youth program
- Round up electronic tools and drop off at local charity organization
- Sell craft table and storage units at community yard sale
And what if you chose the home area to declutter? How about getting rid of that giant stack of papers sitting on your desk in your living room? You could make a plan like this:
- Find a box to temporarily store papers
- Shred confidential items using paper shredder
- Clean out inbox and outbox on desk
- Set up regular filing sessions in your calendar
And what if you’re ready to cut ties from unnecessary or redundant extracurricular work or school activity? You could make a plan that is something like this:
- Gather and return any related extracurricular equipment, materials, and items
- Schedule and hold private meeting with group leader or organizer
- Update my colleagues and team members about my leaving the club/group
- Remove all future related activities from my calendar or schedule
Finally, no plan is complete unless you actually schedule time to work on it! Take a minute to schedule in your decluttering tasks directly into your calendar, so you’ll be sure to complete them.
Make a note to declutter items on a regular basis.
It’s important to remember decluttering is an ongoing process. You’re constantly living, experiencing new experiences, thinking new thoughts, collection information and materials. As such, you have to regularly remove things that no longer serve you in your life.
Take a moment to set a recurring reminder in your digital calendar, or pencil in reminders into your paper planner or calendar to go through this decluttering exercise. You should schedule the exercise it on a day when you’ll be relaxed, at ease, and comfortable…not when you’re heading out the door to a meeting, or working on something on deadline.
Choose one area from your life, work/school, home, or personal, and ask yourself, “What’s bothering or annoying me the most in this area? What could I remove, eliminate, or declutter from my life?”
Again, the size of the item in question really doesn’t matter; one small item can have a huge impact on your daily life if it’s been driving you to the land of pain and discomfort.How about you? What areas of your life need some decluttering? What specific items are you going to declutter or remove? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!