Bills on the table, dirty glasses on the counter, dirty glasses on coffee table, clothes on the couch, clothes in the dryer, paperwork stacked up past your monitor on your desk, books you didn’t even know you had on the desk, and not a clean surface in sight! Reading over the last sentence is enough to cause anyone hypertension. Imagine actually living that reality. Unfortunately, many people live this way every day at home and in the office. “I’ll get to it later, I have more important things to do” is so easy to say. However, living with clutter can increase stress, reduce productivity, and steal one’s general peace of mind.
The good news is, getting de-cluttered is not really as daunting of a task as it might seem. There are several attitudes and habits that anyone can adopt to live a less cluttered and stressful life. The hardest part about getting and staying de cluttered is taking that first step. As Dave Mathews says, “To change the world, start with one step, however small, the first step is hardest of all.” And to think, if one step is all it takes to start changing the world then de-cluttering should be cake!
Living the De-Cluttered Life
While there are lots of ways to get de-cluttered, none of them will matter if you don’t develop the right attitudes to STAY de-cluttered. If you dedicate a whole day to cleaning your house and then it gets just as messy over the next week, then you have wasted a lot of time. Below are a few attitudes and habits to consider for staying de-cluttered.
- Learn to love the de-cluttered environment. Have you ever heard the expression “acquired taste?” While everyone might love the flavor of a clean and tidy house, not many people can stomach the effort that goes into it. Remind yourself occasionally of all the sub-conscious effects that go along with living/working in a cluttered environment. Once you realize that you can be happier and more productive in a clean open space, you will gain motivation to keep it that way.
- Clean it the first time you notice. It is so easy to procrastinate and just worry about it later. However, things can add up quickly and before you know it the pile of laundry is so large that you are intimidated to get started! Plus, taking a few minutes to clean up after dinner is much better than spending an hour after several days of procrastination.
- You don’t need everything you want. A huge cause of clutter is people buying and acquiring more stuff then they actually need. Other than the staples and essentials, never buy something on the first impulse. Let the idea steep for a few weeks and see if you still ‘need’ it after that.
After you have adopted the right attitudes to keep your life uncluttered, it is time to get your hands dirty (and often literally). There are several ways to go about it depending on your type of personality. If you like to set a time and get things done all at once, then plan a date to organize and clean and follow through. If you are intimidated by the work required to get started then try small steps and even just 5 minutes a day. Either way, here are a few tips to get started.
- Designate a spot for incoming papers. Paperwork and bills are the most common items that can stack up and drive you crazy. Whether at home or in the office, designate a space to put all incoming bills and papers. Whenever you get paperwork that does not require immediate attention, place them in your designated spot and organize them later.
- Designate a clutter free zone. When starting out, create a space that is unacceptable under any circumstances to have anything not currently in use. For the kitchen, it might be the space right by the sink. For the office, it might be the area around your monitor or laptop. This way even when things get really messy, you will always have at least one area for refuge. As you develop better habits for staying de-cluttered, you can expand your area of refuge slowly until it expands to the whole house/office.
- Keep your kitchen sink clean. Even if you have a cluttered kitchen, it is important to always have the kitchen sink clean and available for use, especially if you don’t have a dishwasher. When dishes stack up in the sink, it can be even harder to find the motivation to clean when you have to work just to make a space to work!
- Consider storage for objects rarely used. Seasonal clothes, unread magazines, old movies, and many other objects are not used enough to justify the space they take up. Keep only the items in your living space that are used regularly and find a place to store items that may only be used occasionally.
- For LOTS of clutter, plan a weekend to tackle it. Most of the problem of being cluttered stems from not being organized. Time will be wasted if you just clean all at once and not as you go. However, once you have a system in place to stay decluttered, plan a weekend to get the whole house clean and then keep it that way after.
Getting and staying de-cluttered ultimately boils down to your attitude and willingness to make the changes necessary. However, if you have a really busy lifestyle and have a hard time trying to fit it in, you can always consult with a professional concierge to get your life de-cluttered, organized, and efficient.