A cluttered environment is a problem if you find that you’re spending a lot of time looking for important papers, clothing or anything else that’s of value. Further, if you’re home or office is cluttered, it affects how you feel and your level of productivity. Many people who live with clutter recognize the benefits to being organized but have a tough time dealing with cleaning and organizing the mess. So, here are some tips to help you de-clutter.
First, focus on your end goal. Depending on how cluttered your environment is, you may have a big project on your hands but if you focus on the amount of work you’ll need to do rather than how it will feel once you’ve got a clean and organized environment, you may be tempted to give up before you even get started.
Also, recognize that you may have to take on this task in stages rather than all at once. Many people who live in a disorganized environment want to get it all done in one shot and sometimes that’s not possible. You may have to schedule several Saturday mornings for getting organized before you really get you home or office in the shape you want it.
Next, pick up some inexpensive cardboard file boxes that you can use for sorting your stuff – the kind that you’ll find at an office supplies store. Then, you’ll want to label one or more of them “Keep”, another “Donate” or “Garage Sale” and another one “Garbage”. Then go room by room and sort through everything and place the items into the appropriate boxes.
You need to set some ground rules before beginning this process. If you’re sorting clothes and you come across an item that you haven’t worn in more than a year or that doesn’t fit, put it in the box. If you’re sorting through magazines and you haven’t opened any of them for more than 3-6 months – throw them out. If you’re sorting through broken toys that you keep meaning to repair but haven’t found the time, chuck them. And, if you’re sorting through old paid bills, keep a least one year’s worth but if you’re sorting income tax returns, keep those papers going back for at least 7 years.
Finally, put your “keepers” away but if you find that you haven’t got enough space, you may need to pick up some storage containers. If that doesn’t help then you’ll need to evaluate if you’ve got an emotional attachment to your stuff.
Does it cause you anxiety to throw things away? Do you believe you’ll be able to repair or recycle many of the items that you’re hanging on to? If so, then you will need to work on your mental clutter before you’ll be able to let go of your physical clutter.