There you sit among the clutter wishing you could simplify things. Unfortunately, the clutter has gotten to the point where you don’t even know where to start. Did you recently lose a notepad and had to buy a new one – only to find it a week later under the sofa? You tell yourself you’d love to get organized to make your life easier but you don’t know where to start. You’ve read about living life minimalized but you can’t imagine getting down to just 100 possessions or ditching your car.
You can streamline your life and make it easier although – spoiler alert – you won’t be able to do it overnight. It undoubtedly took some time for all that clutter to accumulate and it will take time to get it organized or eliminated. However, if you do the following 10 steps you will de-clutter your life and it’s not really all that difficult.
Step 1. Begin now
The first step in de-cluttering your life is to do an audit and assess everything that you have. Admit to yourself how many pairs of shoes you on, the size of your storage space or the fact that you have not been able to see your garage floor in years. A group of UCLA researchers embarked on a journey to catalog what is in the house of the average American. According to an article published on Time.com, the first home they went into had 2,000 possessions – that was just in 3 rooms. We are a nation of hoarders so you might be surprised about what you will find in your house. Don’t feel bad about this. Just accept how things are because if you don’t, you’ll never be able to make things better.
Step 2. Prioritize
Your second step should be to decide those areas in your home that require the de-cluttering. Prioritize which one is most important. Here’s a good tip – you may want to begin with whichever room seems easiest, as this should help you gain momentum. In turn, this momentum should propel you into cleaning out those areas that require more energy and time.
Step 3. Let go of the “shoulds”
You probably have a list of “shoulds” or those things that you know you should do but have been avoiding. Stop procrastinating. Put them on your calendar and get them done. If you find there are those that require some follow-up action put them on your calendar, too. Become a winner by making commitments to fill them. If you have a problem with self-discipline there are great reminder apps for your smart phone that could help. Or consider hiring a Life Coach that would help you by holding you accountable.
Step 4. Create a “don’t do” list
A powerful step is to just let go of those things you’ve been meaning to do like forever. Have you been meaning to go back to school to finish your degree? Have you been meaning to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail? Let these things go. Then if the time comes when you can do them go for it. But don’t lose sleep over them. These are not absolutely necessary items. Instead they’re things that can keep you from feeling good about what you have already accomplished because in the back of your mind you know you haven’t done them. Just let go of them.
Step 5. Get rid of the paper
It’s important to reduce your paper clutter as much as you can. Unsubscribe from those catalogs or magazines that you don’t really require. If you’re receiving junk mail there are websites that can help you avoid getting it like the FTC.gov. That way, it won’t accumulate in the first place. Arrange to get your bills online and don’t print out anything unless you absolutely have to. For example, those recipes those you found online can be bookmarked for future reference instead of printed out. Do you enjoy reading? Why not invest in an e-reader so you’ll never again have to buy a hardback book.
Step 6. It’s time for the O word
Yes, it’s now time to get organized. You should by now have gotten rid of all that clutter and the stuff you don’t need. So it’s time to organize what you have left. It’s possible that you will even find stuff that you don’t really need like those storage bins or file cabinets you had on your To Do list. You should now be able to put everything in its place according to where and how you use it. Also, if you keep items always in the same place you’ll never make yourself crazy searching the entire house for them.
Step 7. Automate everything you can
If you arranged to get all of your bills and statements online as suggested in Step 5 you should now automate all your bill paying. You should be able to do this through your bank where you could have money automatically deducted from your account and sent to your creditors. If your bank doesn’t offer this service you might be able to do it through one of your credit cards or by going to your creditors and setting up automatic payments.
Step 8. Get rid of the digital clutter
The odds are that your computer is full of digital clutter such as photos, files, emails and so forth. You need to create a system for backing up stuff like this and then storing it off-line like on the “cloud.” If you don’t have a Dropbox account get one and move all of those files, photos, emails, etc. into it and then delete them from your computer. Your data will be safe but no longer cluttering up things. Be sure to unsubscribe from those emails or newsletters you don’t really need to receive or use an email program that will prioritize them for you.
Step 9. Go into maintenance mode
Now that you de-cluttered and are organized determine to keep things this way. You might want to develop daily, weekly and monthly strategies for keeping things clean and organized. Be careful of those bad habits that can start small. Don’t let dishes sit in the sink overnight or leave things just laying around. Also, don’t let things pile up on your desk. Keep it clean, too. You should be able to spend just a few minutes at the end of every day cleaning and tidying up so that you will stay clutter free.
Step 10. Relax and enjoy the fruits of your efforts
Now that you’re organized and de-cluttered take some time to sit down, relax and enjoy the fruits of your efforts. GoodHouseKeeping.com reveals a couple of benefits of being organized and all of them leads to an improvement in your well-being. You will now have less stuff and need less storage space. Given this, you might be able to downsize into a smaller place. You would then have both more money and more time to enjoy life. And wouldn’t that be great?