Last week we went over the effects that a cluttered home has on not only your home but also your health. The question is now, how do we get there? Why are these decisions so hard to make? Maybe you feel guilty for wasting money or tossing objects connected to old goals (like those expensive shoes you bought when you thought you were going to start rock climbing). Maybe you get caught up in the cycle of, “I might need this later,” or “this could be worth something.” Perhaps you’re just feeling overwhelmed by a pile of junk.
At the end of the day, only you can decide what objects, tasks and routines are meaningful to you and which are just clutter. Try these five tips to inspire your productivity and mindset, and learn how to declutter your life.
The One Touch Rule
Dr. Gerald Nestadt, director of the Johns Hopkins OCD clinic, recommends making decisions immediately before clutter can take root. “If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it. Don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one pile to another again and again.”
As an example, Nestadt recommends tossing junk as soon as you pick up the mail, instead of dropping everything into a pile to sort later. The same goes for your email: if a cluttered inbox is a source of stress, go through once a day to clear out any new junk.
Stay Motivated & Proactive
Clutter can’t happen if you don’t let it. Think twice before bringing something new into your home/office/wardrobe/life. Ask yourself three questions before you purchase or bring something new home:
“Where will I store this?”
“How long will I have it?”
“How will I dispose of it?”
Answering these can help you decide if a new object will really add value to your life or become clutter. If you crave that shopper’s high and know you’re prone to impulse buying, plan a vacation from shopping. Instead of heading for the sale rack, go for a walk or meet a friend for lunch and focus on using what you already own. Reward yourself with experiences rather than things.
You can also unsubscribe from sale emails and unfollow your favorite stores on social media. If you declutter your newsfeed, you’ll be less likely to find yourself tempted by deals on things you don’t need.
Skip the boxes
Out of sight, still in mind. Getting organized might sound like a trip to The Container Store, but hiding clutter is not the same as tackling it. In fact, pulling everything out of a shelf at once can simplify your decision-making process by letting you clearly see what you have.
Chances are, if something’s been packed away in a box you haven’t missed it. If you haven’t used something in the last year or more, it’s in the “suspect zone,” and you’ll probably survive just fine without it. Give it a new life outside of the box by donating to a local charity or thrift store.
Talk To Your Clutter
When going through clutter, dig deeper than asking if you like an object. Ask instead why it deserves to take up space in your home. People often associate objects with old accomplishments, goals, identities or relationships, which can make it seem harder to say goodbye. You can still cherish the memories without the things they’re attached to.
Give yourself permission to recognize when an object no longer adds value to your life. Do you keep that hideous vase because it was a wedding gift? Will you wear that sweater that makes you itch? Are you really going to learn how to play that guitar? Allow yourself to be a little ruthless, but also remember that freeing yourself from clutter is a form of self-care.
Declutter Your Calendar
Mental to-do lists, packed calendars and tempting distractions make your schedule feel as chaotic as your closet. Don’t be afraid to cut out or set restrictions on activities that no longer add value to your life.
Trying to do too much can feel just as draining as trying to hold on to too much. If nixing tasks doesn’t feel like an option, finish one or two significant tasks at a time, rather than chipping away at 50 little projects simultaneously.