Declutter Your Life – My Top Tips

In this post, I want to share with you my top tips to declutter your life and specific aspects.  

Let’s start with defining decluttering. Look at positive and negative motivators and also triggers. 

We will then look at the various approaches for decluttering.

Finally, I want to share with you my top tips and also a checklist that you can use to battle your way through the “clutter maze”.

Safety Matters Podcast (Episode 028) and Safety Matters Show Vlog provided below:

So, it’s 2019..Maybe you looked back at the previous year and thought what could have I done better?  I usually end up saying to myself “I could have been a little more organised and more efficient”.

It’s like a habit for me that I always like to start my new year with this “decluttering” thought process.  

But, what exactly does it mean…“declutter”? …..No…it’s not a place in India…

It was Mother Teresa who said:

“The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are”.

Let’s Define Decluttering

Decluttering is a “life-hack”… But what’s a “life-hack”?

A life-hack (or life hacking) is any trick, shortcut or skill that increases your productivity and efficiency.

Decluttering involves “getting rid of the excessive things from a cluttered environment”.

Positive and Negative Drivers

You might be asking yourself….why declutter…what are the positive drivers or motivators?  As one would expect, there are positive and negative drivers. The “Yin and Yang”.

Positive Drivers and Motivators

Clutter steals your focus, makes you feel overwhelmed, distracted, agitated and frustrated. Clutter is like “brain fog”. Our brain gets so busy trying to process the background “stuff” rather than focusing on the front end “stuff”.

Negative Drivers and Motivators

Examples include:

  1. You feel guilty about getting rid of things….
  2. There is sentimental attachment….
  3. Oh….I “might” need it someday.
  4. It cost money…
  5. It’s an investment.
  6. Hand me downs…saving items for family members.
  7. Comfort factor…materialistic.

There are also specific triggers that can set you off on the decluttering journey. 

Triggers for Kick-Starting Decluttering 

These include asking questions such as:

  • Can I be more efficient when I am looking for stuff?
  • Am I effectively managing what I have?
  • Do I have inner peace / zen…in other words no sleepless nights worrying about stuff?
  • Can I manage my time more efficiently when I am trying to do things and need access to stuff. Remember, we can’t make more time…just manage what we have much better.
  • Can I reduce frustration and stress associated with managing stuff?

 

 

Decluttering Processes

Decluttering may take several attempts. It’s not always easy saying goodbye to things and even after you think you have got there, stuff still remains and it’s a constant whittling process.…

So where do we start….?

  • Cleaning – one of the toughest things to do especially, when we are preoccupied with a lot of other things, or we lack motivation and the energy.
  • Organising – organising offers a cleaner/ tidier environment, but doesn’t really help towards “decluttering”. Organising puts things in an order and categorises based on their purpose. But, it will help in locating what you need with minimal effort.

  • Letting go –  this is one of the hardest things to do. Some of us are very sentimental when it comes to our things. We keep a lot of heirlooms, things that were given by friends and family, and other stuff we think might come handy on a rainy day. Unfortunately, not all the things we keep have importance in our life. It’s usually hidden to the naked eye and stored somewhere in the house and most likely forgotten about…sounds familiar?

Approaching Decluttering 

The biggest challenge is in “overcoming procrastination”, which is the action of delaying or postponing something.

Procrastination is efficiency’s worst nightmare. Leaving things to be done at a later time not only lessens the chance of it actually being completed, but you lose that momentum and piles up the “to-do-list”….I am sure we are all too familiar with that.

Then there is “getting started”.  Easier said than done right…? You have to get into the grove…Once you build the habit of decluttering, it will soon become a routine which can be passed over the generations.  When I first started decluttering my clothes…I filled up 3 black bin bags and donated them to charity. Now, every year when I declutter my wardrobe, I may have half a black bag…nevertheless, it shows that it “decluttering” never stops.

Here are my top tips for Decluttering

For me…it’s all about Simplification and Performance Improvement. 

These are my 2 main drivers when it comes to getting motivated for decluttering.  I want to share with you some of my top tips to help with those factors in mind – Simplification and Performance Improvement.

There is a big list of things, but I want to talk about 4 big hitters:

  • Clothing
  • Technology
  • Passwords
  • Data Management 

Decluttering – Clothing

The magic word here is “piles”…nope, not that kind…I mean “piles of clothes.   

Sort…. Keep or Bag and Give

Make 3 piles….

  • Use a lot – Keep.
  • Very infrequent – Not sure, keep an eye
  • Very rarely – Time to Bag and Give away.

Be serious…but not OTT. Don’t hang on to stuff for the sake of it and put the “Not Sure” stuff away and see if you go back to it often.

Decluttering – Passwords

So much to remember….banks, credit cards, login details ….uuurgh!

I use LastPass – Google and Download…there is a free version.I use the premium version after testing and finding it really useful.

Test it first…before you buy etc.. For extra security (in case of hacking), I never put the full password…I fill it with ~, # or *.  You can set it to autofill and I only do this for low-level stuff…

Decluttering – Technology

Gadgets – love/hate relationship…we’ve all been there.

I love gadgets….but over the last 2 years, I have totally changed my approach.  Now, before I buy any gadget or gizmo…I ask some basic questions.

  • Why do I need it?
  • What’s it replacing…have I already got rid of the other gadget?
  • How will it help with my performance improvement or efficiency?
  • Will I really use it or is it just a phase that I am going through…FOMO?
  • It costs money….is it really worth it???
  • WAIT – WAIT – WAIT….

Decluttering – Data Management

Data is everywhere….you have a digital footprint. It’s so easy to just collect and save. It doesn’t take space like clothing….but it can be out of sight, out of mind.

The frustration starts when you want to find it…

  • Can you find it…where was it filed?
  • Do you even remember what you have?

Here I want to talk about data management where it’s documents, photos, music etc. and how you store them efficiently.  No doubt, you store your data on your desktop or laptop or maybe even a cloud service like Dropbox…what I use.  Storing data efficiently is really important when it comes to retrieval. 

 

Here are my top tips: 

  • Create specific folders – I have Personal and Work….that’s it.
  • Rather than have them buried deep in your “explorer” when you want to find them…put numbers in front like 01-Personal and 02-Work….this pushes it high up on the view panel.
  • Don’t create too many sub-folders and also think about numbering them in terms of importance…for example 01-Personal and 01-Banks…02-Utilities etc..
  • Think about using a cloud server like Dropbox…I use my phone to scan important documents using the Dropbox App and then it will save it my selected folder.

Checklist to help with decluttering

Ask yourself the following:

  1. Is this item useful? Can it save me time, energy or money? Does it fulfil a need or purpose?
  2. Do I like it?
  3. Does it make my life easier in some way?
  4. Have I worn it, used it, found pleasure in it or looked at it in the last year?
  5. Does it energize me or drain me? If it drains you, let it go.
  6. Is it broken beyond repair or damaged in some way?
  7. Is the information it provides outdated (e.g., old books, magazines, videos, etc.)?
  8. Am I holding on to it because of guilt?
  9. Have I finished using it and see no reason to use it again?
  10. Does it reflect the person I am today or a past version of me? If it reflects the past, let it go.
  11. Do I already own something similar?
  12. Am I spending too much time weighing the pros and cons? If so, let it go.
  13. If I had to downsize to a much smaller house, would this go with me?
  14. Does this have any historical or potential financial value (e.g., an item passed down for several generations)? If not, let it go.

There are perhaps more questions you can add to this checklist, but I find this is a good selection….it will help.

In Summary:

  1. Decluttering will allow you to focus on the really important things in life…like enjoyment.
  2. It doesn’t happen overnight….getting started is the hardest part, especially overcoming procrastination.
  3. Once you start and make it a habit, you will be asking yourself…why did I not do this sooner?

Check out our Blogs, Podcasts and Vlogs on Personal Development (links below).