Monday, December 29, 2014

Minimalism: Declutter Your Environment

Now, I have to be perfectly honest with you- as I've said before, clutter is definitely something that I have GOT to find a way to get control of. I am a pack-rat. I tend to save know, "just in case."

For example, as a product review blogger, I am always getting packages. I save many of the boxes. Of course, that did serve me well for Christmas- I didn't have to search for boxes to wrap stuff in- I already had some!! (Yay!) However, now that Christmas is over, I need to let go of those boxes...send them right on to the recycle. Do you think I have? Not yet....but I really do plan to- at some point.

So, tomorrow is the big day. I will be releasing my book on minimalism. It will be on Amazon in Kindle format for $2.99 and paperback format for $5.99.

If you look around you and all you see is clutter, you may begin to feel a bit overwhelmed and wonder exactly what you can do about it. However, there's truly nothing to be afraid of- just take baby steps. Do a little at a time and eventually, you'll see the clutter begin to disappear right before your very eyes! Here are some tips on decluttering your physical environment.

1) Typically, most clutter is due to paperwork. Most people have paperwork scattered all over their house: in drawers, on the desk, on the dresser, on the kitchen counter/table, etc. It's no wonder you can't get your hands on that bill that was due last week! Pick a spot for important papers. Get an inbox tray for important mail. As soon as you get the mail, sort it. Throw out the junk and put the important things in the inbox. Get a file box for important things such as warranties, contracts, etc. If you have children, file their important school papers in a different location. When you get this into effect, you will see that mountain of paperwork gradually go away.

2) When you start clearing clutter, choose ONE area to start with. This will be a "no-clutter" zone. This means that nothing will be in that area unless it's currently being used. Everything needs its own place- and unless being used, needs to be in that place. Each day, take a few minutes to expand this "no-clutter" zone. Eventually, you'll have a whole room done, then two, and so on. Before you know it, your whole house will be clutter-free.

3) Clear off kitchen counters. Ultimately, you want all of the flat spaces in your home free of clutter. If you have appliances that you only use once in awhile, get them off the counter and find a spot for them. Go through papers and throw out the unnecessary ones and file away the necessary.

4) If you have bookshelves, choose one and clear it off just as you did the counters. Do one in a closet or one in a bookcase- it doesn't matter, just do it.

5) Choose one weekend to spend de-cluttering. Sure, when you're just getting started, you're not likely to want to do this right away, but pull out your calendar and schedule it for later in the month. Then, clear your schedule and get friends and family to help. Have trash bags and donation boxes ready. You may not get it all done in one weekend, but at least you'll get pretty far.

6) When you walk through a room, pick up five different things and put them in their designated spots. If something doesn't already have a spot, pick one. Then, after you've used that item, put it back in it's spot.

7) When you're working in a room, take a few minutes to visualize what you want it to look like. Consider the essential pieces of furniture and what doesn't necessarily belong. Once you've made that choice, get rid of the things that don't belong.

8) Sometimes you'll be sorting through a pile and you immediately know what to keep, what to donate, and what to throw out. However, there will be times when you'll come across something that you don't really use, but you can't see yourself letting go of it either. Find another box to put this in and then put the box away. In six months, re-visit the box and go through it again.

9) After you've decluttered a room, you'll probably have a "donation" pile just taking up room. Get it to the donation facility as soon as possible.

10) The main problem with taking time to declutter is that you get rid of stuff and put things away, but then you end up going out and getting more stuff. To solve this problem, make a "30-Day List" where you write down something that you want that isn't really necessary along with the date. If, in 30 days, you still feel you want/need the item, then get it. If not, cross it off and forget it.

To learn more about decluttering and learning the minimalist lifestyle, stay tuned for the release of my new book: "The Minimalist Lifestyle: Tips and Tricks for Decluttering and Organizing Your Life"

**UPDATE: I did not release my book at the end of December as planned- too much got in the way. I'm shooting for mid- to late January. I'll let you know when it's ready!

With Love,