Declutter and Take Control

Declutter and Take ControlStuff, no matter how much you need it or love it, creates stress when it gets out of control. We all have plenty of stressors in our lives from appointments to meetings to never-ending to-do lists. Don’t let your “stuff” add more stress in your life. Declutter and take control.

While that may seem easier said than done, you’ll find that eliminating the stress of stuff by decluttering is worth the effort. You’ll find it easier to deal with the other stressors in your life when your stuff is under control. It’s all connected.

Where to Start to Declutter Your Space?

As the adage goes: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. There are plenty of people who quickly and easily become overwhelmed when they look around their space and try to figure out how to declutter it. Then they give up because the problem looks insurmountable, and there’s no time. Accept the fact that you cannot accomplish this in a matter of hours or probably even days. You can’t eat the elephant in one sitting, and you’re probably not going to be able to declutter your space all at once either. So where to start?

I suggest you first determine the single area that causes you the most frustration and wastes most of your time. Maybe it’s the kitchen counter or an entryway hall where everyone tends to drop their stuff. Maybe it’s the junk drawer where you waste minutes upon minutes every time you try to find something. That’s the best place to start. Once you can organize that space, you’ll build momentum to keep going. Prioritize your list of spaces to declutter.

Set a Timer

If you’re one who struggles with clutter, the idea of organizing your space is very likely unappealing… that’s exactly why it doesn’t happen. For you, organizing is punishment, and if that’s your mindset (and there’s nothing wrong with that), you won’t want to dedicate time to the task. So set a timer for 15 minutes. If you’re honest, you can carve 15 minutes out of your day.

Divvy up the space you plan to organize, so you can tackle at least a section of it in 15 minutes. Inside that area, determine what’s there that you use every day. That item (or those items) can stay. Of course, then you’ll get to the things that are really driving the clutter… magazines you plan to read, clothing you’ll think you’ll wear again, that thingamajig you think you’ll need someday, and that list goes on… and on.

Now it’s time to be brutally honest. If you haven’t had the time to handle the clutter item (e.g. read the magazine) to this point, where are you going to find the time in the future? Ditto to clothing and thingamajigs. Put it in the trash, recycling, or start a donation box. If you think you absolutely can’t bear to part with it, put it in a “maybe” box and mark the month on that box.

In 15 minutes, you’ll have cleared a space. Find a spot for your donation box and “maybe” box that’s out of sight but reasonably handy for you to use when you repeat the process the following day. Continue dedicating 15 minutes each day for a week, and you’ll begin to see real progress.

Create a Clear Zone in the Decluttered Space

Dedicate this space as your clear zone and keep it clutter free, then move to the next space on your list. Don’t let your donation box become clutter. Close the deal and actually donate the stuff. As for your “maybe” box, store it out of the way and hidden. Make a note on your calendar to go through it in six months. No doubt when you do, you’ll realize you never needed those items in the first place. Trash, recycle, or donate the contents as appropriate.

You’ll need to create a habit to keep your newly created clear zone free of clutter, but it’s definitely a habit worth creating. Once you begin to enjoy the benefit of a clutter-free space and the stress reduction and sense of control that goes with it, I am certain you’ll be inspired to continue the process. Your clear zones will continue to expand until they envelope 100 percent of your space.

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