A Simple Way to Declutter Your Home and Your Mind

Neat room

A cluttered, chaotic environment is a reflection of one’s inner state of being.

The physical clutter can be a manifestation of avoidance and indecision. It is better to get lost in the chaos and spend half an hour looking for something than dealing with an important (but often not too urgent) issue.

A cluttered environment also is a sign of a cluttered mind. There is probably a lot of inner dialogue of should and could. But nothing gets done because everything is piling up and the sheer volume of the mess is overwhelming.

Like most situations, we keep creating more of the same clutter to the point of hopelessness.

The best thing to deal with this situation is to start somewhere. Since spring is in full swing and life is starting to bloom, why not take this time to have a look around your house, office and car and see what you can get rid off?

How to de-clutter your physical environment

This is not a new concept. I have been using this for a while. It is a simple process that raises your awareness and keeps things in perspective. I call it the simple power of two.

When you want to buy something. As a rule: when you want to get something new, get rid of two things you own. For example if you want to buy a new pair of shoes, get rid of two old pairs or get rid of two other items in your home (two shirts, pants…etc.).

If you use this method consistently, you will end up with a lot less stuff than you started with.

Also if you fully commit to it, you won’t buy anything before you’re able to get rid of something. For example, before getting an iPod touch, I sold my Palm and gave away an old MP3 player (I wouldn’t have gotten the iPod if I didn’t cut down).

Ongoing. During the day look around and get rid of two small things (papers floating around, stuff that is sitting in drawers). If you can dispose of more, go for it.

More out less in. Do your best every day not to add to the mess. For example when you receive your mail, clear it right away; don’t add it to the pile. If you have to keep something, use the same principle and get rid of two things.

The end result. Take a few moments and imagine doing this for 300 days a year. You can get rid of 600 things. Feel the lightness of having less and the added space. This is your best reward.

A comprehensive de-cluttering project. If you have time and want to do some massive de-cluttering,  pick one area (choose the one that bugs you the most) and do the following:

  • Create a simple plan. Visualize how you want your space to look. What items you want to keep and why. Always think of how you will use your space and the things you keep.
  • Eliminate. Pick all the stuff that doesn’t fit into your plan and give it away, throw it out or sell it.  Be as ruthless as you can and do it!
  • Finish. Organize what is left according to your plan. Don’t let things sit and fester. If you can’t sell or give away the stuff, label a couple of boxes one for sale and one for give away. And do it soon.

De-cluttering the mind

These days it is really easy to pile up a lot of information that we want to use or learn from.

We spend more time trying to organize and categorize our files than actual learning (my number one weakness). This is OK if it doesn’t stress you out and you don’t have a hundred projects or things (either on paper or in your head) that you want to complete or learn.

Start with a mind dump. Before you can get rid of the stuff in your head, you need to make them visible by writing them down. Do a mind dump and just write everything that you can think of on one sheet of paper or one document on your computer.

Use the same rule. You can use the same simple power of two principle. Don’t add any more things to read or complete before you get rid of two. It can be as simple as deleting files or recycling paper.

Do it every day. Each day for every item you add to your day (things you have to do, read, write…etc.) take out two.  Try this with your email and you will have your inbox under control in no time.

Stick to doing it and keep it simple. The result may not be visible in one or two days but, as mentioned earlier, thinking of the cumulative result makes a big difference. The reward is worth a few minutes a day.

Ask yourself the following questions whenever you are unsure of what to do with something:

  • When was the last time I used it?
  • Why am I keeping something that I haven’t used in such a long time?
  • When am I likely to use it again? If you think you will use it, write a date on note and attach it to your item. If the date comes up and you haven’t touched it, get rid of it. As you do this, consider what your true motivation for keeping it in the first place was.
  • Can someone else use it right away? Am I helping someone?
  • How would I feel if this item was lost or stolen? Would I notice, would I want to replace it, would I care?
  • What would happen if I did not do this project a year or five years from now?
  • Would I be willing to pay for a storage space to keep this item? Why would I do that?

**De-cluttering can be good for the soul **

There is a spiritual element to a clean clutter free environment. It gives you a sense of control over your space. You feel more calm and at peace.

You become more aware of your surrounding when you are not distracted by the chaos of everything else. When you have a_ clear mind_, you can focus on what really matters to you and let go of the rest. _

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