One of the unfortunate side-effects of our busy modern-day lifestyle is clutter. The good news is that de-cluttering your life and keeping you spaces organised are actually quite straightforward. All it takes is a bit of change in thinking and a little self-discipline.
Between working 9 to 5, fetching kids, doing homework, cooking, cleaning and generally making it through each week, who really has the time, or energy, to fight the seemingly ever-growing number of “things” we all seem to accumulate at such a rapid rate – and which end up taking over our living and working spaces? Actually, you can get organised.
Here are three foolproof rules to get rid of clutter and keep it gone:
Have less stuff
It sounds strange, but think about it for a minute. The most logical way to have an organised and clutter-free environment is simply to make sure that you don’t fill it with possessions. Chances are that your spaces are overflowing with stuff. In that case, it’s time to get ruthless. Work your way through your house or office and systematically get rid of unnecessary items.
To make it easier, simply ask yourself three questions for every time you come across: Do I need it? Do I use it? Do I love it? If you don’t answer yes to any of these three questions, it’s time for that item to find a new home. While this kind of clean-up may seem like a mammoth task, you’ll be surprised how easy and rewarding it can be.
Remember that things need spaces
While that new home treadmill may be “exactly what your need” to get back in shape, before you even start working out whether you can afford it, first work out where it’s going to go. Every “thing” in you life – whether new or old – takes up space. And if it doesn’t have its own special place to live, it’s destined to become clutter, simple as that. And making space to something “temporarily” doesn’t work. If an item doesn’t have a permanent space from the start, it’s probably never going to have one.
Have a system
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: dropping your keys on the kitchen counter when you come home is not an organised system; neither is draping your jacket over the dining room chair or putting your hammer downs on the garage workbench. If there’s one phrase that will almost certainly derail your de-cluttering efforts it has to be: “I’ll put it away later.” Which is why the most important component of an uncluttered home, workplace, and life, is to have a system by which you deal with every item that makes it way to you. Unfortunately, this is also the most difficult aspect of becoming clutter-free because putting your stuff in the place it belongs takes effort and discipline.
But the rewards of an organised environment make it all worthwhile — not to mention the time you’ll get back when you don’t have to spend hours every day looking for your wallet, cellphone and keys.
Shopper’s Friend, 11 July 2011 (re-printed with permission)