A cluttered apartment or house can lead to mental inertia because your mind is overwhelmed with all the things fighting for space in your living area. You feel weighed down and out of control.
Clutter has a direct impact on your psychological well being and there really isn’t any upside to it.
Fortunately, there’s something you can do about clutter taking over your life and I share my top 6 tips in this article.
Personally, a cluttered up apartment indirectly translates to a cluttered up mind that can’t think straight or create.
Despite knowing this, as 2016 progressed, my office area grew more and more disheveled as I piled documents on top of more documents (Exhibit A & B below):
Just before Xmas, I needed to send in a document for one of my certifications and despite several hours of digging through the clutter, it remained missing.
This was a sure sign it was time to schedule another decluttering session, especially for my office area.
Decluttering was also important for me to get going on my vision board. Below are my best tips for decluttering fast and effectively in preparation for the year:
My 6 Top Tips for Decluttering Your Home & Life Fast
1. Choose a Day or Two for It
This isn’t something that can be done on the fly, a few hours a day indefinitely. If you do this, you will never finish and might end up causing even more clutter.
Schedule a day for it; preferably a weekend so you’re not in a hurry. If you have an enormous house, schedule two days for it or consider leaving it alone until you have a long vacation weekend.
2. Assign Names to Boxes or Trash Bags
Label each box or trash bag with what’s going into storage, what’s going to be donated and what needs to be binned.
This will keep you more organized as you go through everything one by one. If you come across something you haven’t seen in a while and feel a sentimental twinge about it, set it aside.
When you finish decluttering take a look at it again. Do you really need to hold onto it?
3. Start with the Smallest Cluttered Area
Always start with the smallest area. I started with the pile of documents on my work desk and moved on from there.
Everything was assembled into piles based on their relevance to each other. Then the stationery section was arranged, followed by my printing and folder area.
Once I could see the rest of my desk, I wiped it clean and left only the basics on the desk. A good resolution to make here is – sort out your documents every day or as soon as they come in.
Do not let them pile up for more than a few days at a time because that’s how the clutter starts. It might be helpful and more useful for you to make a list before you start.
Walk around your home and list the smallest cluttered area to the largest or the list could be in the order of what looks easiest to what looks the hardest. Then work with the list.
4. How to Choose the Things to Keep and the Things That Need to Go
This can be a tough one if you get sentimentally attached to things. As I said previously, set that aside until you finish then take a look at it again.
For the workspace, focus on keeping the important documents and files. All the magazines and newspapers and random papers should be recycled.
This includes any cute knick-knacks or household décor as well. If it’s not doing much and is a big item to boot, you might consider putting it in the donation pile.
As a rule of thumb for myself, if I haven’t worn an outfit or a pair of shoes in over a year, it’s time for it to go even if it’s a special occasion outfit. Some people keep it to anything not worn in 6 months.
If you like buying all the latest gadgets, you’re going to have a real clunky kitchen quickly. Worse, these items take up vital kitchen space and you don’t even use them that much.
Empty all the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen, and probably the fridge. Throw away everything that’s expired.
If you have a kitchen gadget you haven’t used in over 6 months, it might be a good idea to donate it.
Once done, start reassembling the cupboards, cabinet, and fridge. Going forward, make it a habit to clear out the fridge every few weeks.
You can also hang cutlery, pots, and pans to save on space if you have a small kitchen. Ikea has a great collection of tools for hanging items in the kitchen.
5. Digital Clutter Should Be Cleared Too
It’s possible to be cluttered online too. I raze through several email inboxes for subscriptions that I haven’t read in a while and unsubscribe.
I also look through my laptop for any files I haven’t opened in a while, screenshots saved on my desktop, downloaded items.
If it’s not being used, it’s deleted and if it’s not being used in a while but I’m unsure if I might use it in future, I drag it into a specific folder.
Any social media or other online memberships that haven’t been used in a while are also put on hiatus.
6. What If You Need More Than a Weekend to Declutter?
Sometimes, no matter how super fast and organized you are, it’s simply not possible to complete a decluttering session in one weekend.
What I would recommend in this case is declutter in batches. Finish each batch before you move onto the next but do not end the declutter session with one batch unfinished.
This way you know where to pick up from when you return the next weekend or a few days later. You’re less likely to give up if you complete per batch.
Bear in mind these are the tips I used to declutter my home and life fast. Feel free to customize it for your specific situation.
After decluttering the work area in pictures above, below is what I ended up with. The desk looks a bit bare but that’s how I like things because I can think better that way. The post-its are the ideas I’ve come up with since I decluttered.
How to Keep Going Post-Declutter?
Try to put together a routine and stick to it over the year. Make it a habit. Don’t procrastinate. If something can be done today, just get it done.
There’s no need to leave it till the next day if it’s not necessary. If at all you have to leave it, don’t let it get past the 3-day mark.
These resources aren’t 100% necessary but they may help if your clutter is so overwhelming, you just can’t figure out where to start from:
- Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston
- 168 Ways to Declutter Your Home by Lilian Too
- Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter: Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time by Erin Rooney Donald