Declutter your life. Three little words that sound quite simple. Get rid of things that you don’t need. However, for some of us, the piles of ‘stuff’ have grown so big that we don’t know how to tackle them, and have lost the will to even try.
The piles of ‘stuff’ can be physical things (a bulging storage cupboard, an untidy work desk) but can refer to all the clutter in our minds too. As busy mums and dads, there are usually a million and one thoughts spinning round our heads at any given moment. I think most of us would feel quite pleased if we could reduce that mind chatter, even just a little.
Why make the effort to declutter?
There are so many benefits to having a good declutter. The Minimalists, who have gained huge popularity for sharing their own take on living a minimalist lifestyle, probably say it best:
“Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”
Clutter can also be quite a big a source of stress. Getting it sorted out could help get your stress levels under control. If the thought of tackling the clutter makes you feel anxious, remember, you don’t have to do it all at once.
The best way is to focus on one key area first, get that sorted, and then move on to the next. As with any daunting task, break it down into bitesize chunks and it will feel much more manageable. Please read on for some helpful tips.
This is probably one of the most difficult areas to declutter as many of your belongings will have sentimental value.
The easiest way to get started is to sort your items into three piles: toss, donate and keep. Try to be a bit stricter with yourself if your ‘keep’ pile is too big. If you can donate good quality items to a local charity, they’ll be so appreciative, and you’ll feel good too.
Many of us keep a lot of things ‘just in case’. If this is you (and it is most definitely me) then you may find it helpful to refer to The Minimalists’ Just In Case Rule.
According to The Minimalists, we really don’t need a lot of the stuff that we keep ‘just in case’ and, actually, most of these things can be replaced very easily, quickly, and for pretty low cost. The benefit you’ll get from getting rid of these things far outweighs the hassle of replacing them, if the need to replace them ever actually occurs.
Don’t forget your wardrobe. Really consider whether you’ve worn an item of clothing in the past six months. If not, then it’s probably one for the charity pile. I always try to remember the advice I was given by the Style Doctors. You should aim to wear 100% of your wardrobe. So simple yet makes so much sense. Anything less is just a waste of money and hanger space.
An untidy workspace can seriously mess with your head and decrease your productivity. I suppose it may be less common these days as ‘hot desking’ grows in popularity. However if you’re lucky enough to have your own desk, it’s quite likely that you’re disappearing beneath ever-growing piles of paperwork and post-it notes.
Try to commit 15 minutes to having a good sort-through of everything on your desk and bin everything you don’t need. Be ruthless! Now give it a good clean. I once read that your desk can harbour more germs than a toilet. I’m not sure if I believe that but it’s worth giving it the once over with some anti-bac spray, just in case.
Now on to your digital desktop. I’m extremely guilty of saving a lot of files to my desktop and then forgetting to move them, and every once in a while I can’t stand it anymore and have a purge. Clear your desktop down and you will feel so much better.
Next up, emails! Again, I’m very guilty of never deleting old emails. Think how great you’ll feel if you can have a good old clear out of that inbox. It’ll be extremely satisfying and well worth spending a few minutes on each day to get them sorted.
Your to-do list
Your work diary and to-do lists are both areas that can become extremely cluttered. How can you get it back under control?
Sherry Bevan, a career and leadership coach, recently wrote an article on ‘How to declutter your life to create new opportunities’.
“Every time you say yes to something,” says Sherry, “ask yourself what do I need to say ‘no’ to in order to do this?”
Sherry suggests reviewing everything you do and asking yourself whether it really helps you to progress or has any real benefit.
“Use the very simplest of methods to review your task list,” says Sherry. “Ditch, delegate or do.”
Maintaining relationships that are really hard work, or dealing with the guilt associated with not maintaining those relationships well enough, can weigh heavy on you.
Identify those in your life who you truly care about and those who perhaps just drain you and give nothing in return. Consider moving on from the more toxic relationships. There’s enough negativity in the world at the moment and it’s important to surround yourself with positive influences.
How do you feel after decluttering?
Do you feel any better after having a good declutter? I find it so therapeutic, almost like a spring clean of not only your physical space but also your headspace.
Decluttering your mind using techniques such as meditation is a whole other topic, however if you get through the stages above, you should start to feel a bit calmer and more in control of your life, which is a great start to managing your stress.
Share your own tips
How do you declutter your life? Please share tips in the comments below.