Life gets complicated, and sometimes the most satisfying solution is to simplify life by removing excess. These five essential steps will help you declutter your life, whether it’s throwing out unnecessary items from your home or simplifying your schedule. You’ll be surprised how much freedom you can find in letting things go.
1. Define your priorities.
This first step is the most important, and usually the most overlooked. What matters most to you? Make a list of your passions, outline your values, and assess your goals. Display these items somewhere prominent, to keep them at the forefront of this process. This document will become the guidelines for what you keep and what you get rid of. If something doesn’t directly support those passions, values, and goals, that’s a good opportunity to seriously evaluate its worth.
2. Take everything slowly.
Don’t expect to have the whole house clean in one weekend, or have a perfectly balanced schedule after only a week. Make a list of each item you want to accomplish; itemize by room or by goal and prioritize according to its impact. If simplifying your schedule will be the most freeing, or decluttering the car will give you the most satisfaction, do it first! Cross off each item as you accomplish it, so you can track your progress visually.
3. Don’t be afraid of throwing things away.
This may seem obvious, but for most people this is the most challenging step. Just because an item might have value in the future, doesn’t mean you need to let it hang around when it doesn’t have value. Ask yourself, as a popular TV celebrity asks frequently, “does it spark joy?” If an item is hanging around and doesn’t directly participate in your previously determined passions, values, and goals, let it go!
4. Design a system of organization.
Once most of the clutter has been dealt with, create a system to prevent clutter in the future. For managing your time, buy a cheap notebook or agenda, or download a calendar app on your phone. For your car, grab an over-the-seat organizer for small items and a small wastebasket if you frequently eat in the car. For your living room, build a cube shelf system to arrange foldable bins with labels on the front for loose items. You’ll be amazed at how much cleaner your life will feel when everything has a place and is easily located.
5. Make time and space for yourself.
Sometimes we forget to spoil ourselves, especially when life gets hectic. Where in your home do you find yourself retreating most often? Make sure that area is pristine and properly prepared. Rethinking your schedule? Carve out time in your day for just you — even if it means cancelling plans. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on yourself for this process. Decluttering can be draining and tedious, so reward yourself as you accomplish each step.
It’s never easy, removing excess from your life. Becoming attached to our belongings is natural. You must always keep your priorities at the forefront of your mind, and expect the process to be long and challenging. Be ready to “pitch” items that don’t align with your priorities. Organize what’s left to prevent future clutter, and, above all, reward yourself as progress is made.