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Declutter Your Space, Declutter Your Mind

When I say the word 'clutter', is there a corner of your life, your office, your house that comes to mind? (Or maybe more than one corner?)

Most of us have no trouble thinking of some part of our life which contains clutter (definition: a confused or disordered state or collection; a jumble). The benefits of removing this clutter from your home and work environments are obvious - a sense of order, being able to find things, no more junk lying around, and that feeling of deep satisfaction that comes from rendering order from chaos.

It can also have a parallel effect on the mind - clearing out a cupboard can also help your mind feel refreshed and more ordered as well... try it, it's true. If part of your life is in chaos, or even the rest of it, decluttering just one room in your house can restore a much needed sense of control, albeit over one small corner of your world.

Occasionally I have days when I feel really very uninspired. I have that mix of tiredness, inability to settle, inability to focus that leaves you restless and just blah. I should be working on a couple of projects, but can't stay with it. (I'm sure most of you can relate to this!)

On days like this, I often end up tackling a heap of small tidy up projects - cleaning out my wardrobe, polishing a wooden chest of drawers, loads of washing and tidying up the garden. Result - clean house, settled mind, refreshed and ready to re-engage with the world.

What about you? Here are some ideas - I have deliberately not included Marie Kondo and her spark of joy because I do tend to rave on about her (but she is fabulous...):

How to declutter

  1. Why not set aside a whole day to declutter the house (or office, or shed, or...)? If others are involved, such as work buddies, partners, flatmates, or children, it's best to involve them in the project, or send them right away. You can move from room to room, with a set time allowed for each space or major task. If it helps, phone a friend or coach every hour to report progress...and reward yourself at the end of the day.
  2. You could also do a certain amount, say 30 minutes, every day - or 3 times a week or whatever, until it's all done. Break your overall plan into tasks that will take about 30 minutes each, and just pick whichever you feel like on the day. Mark the successfully completed task off your list, and be sure to give yourself a small reward.
  3. Another way that can work very well is to tackle a room a week.
  4. Why not do it with a friend - maybe you could both do your house this month, then his or her house next month?
  5. Sort possessions into 4 piles - keep, give away, sell or chuck (then follow through and do it!).

Radical Ideas

  1. When in doubt, throw it away - you don't need it, you had forgotten you even owned it and you can always replace it if necessary. Do not ever put things into a junk drawer 'just in case...'.
  2. For really serious hoarding problems, consider a 'one in, one out' rule. A friend of mine throws out one shirt for every new one he buys, so that he always owns the same number of shirts. It keeps the house uncluttered, and also forces you to think whether you really value the new potential acquisition more than at least one thing you already own...
  3. If necessary, get help (enter 'Declutter' into Google and you'll see a myriad of free and not-so-free tools and services).
  4. Don't be held prisoner by your clutter - just because Aunt Gloria gave you that chair years ago, does not mean it needs to remain in your life forever. Give it to someone who will love it - take a photo of it first if you need a memento.
  5. Keep a part of something, rather than the whole thing...one baby outfit, not all of them, 3 essays you wrote at school not every piece of homework from 20 years ago.
  6. For every object, ask: Is it beautiful? Is it useful? Do I love it? If you can't answer yes to at least one of these questions, get rid of it NOW!
  7. Don't wait for spring - autumn or winter is the ideal time to be indoors and cleaning out spaces, so when spring comes you can grab a picnic and head off to the wild blue yonder (or your local park) with that smug feeling that your house is entirely in order.

What are you prepared to tidy up?
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