So much unnecessary stress and anguish is created in life by failing to be organised, but we’re all human and guilty of it to a certain extent.
Clutter in the home or office often leads to clutter in the mind and vice versa. Taking robust action to mount an assault on your own disorganisation takes a bit of effort, but it is worth it.
Life often feels too busy and your energy too low having done all the ‘must-dos’ to then find the motivation to clear out junk or to consider and implement organisational strategies, yet pushing on and doing those things will likely free time for you in the long run and make you happier.
Here are three steps to take to organise and declutter your life:
1. Assess the current situation
Sit down with a drink and a notepad, laptop, tablet or your phone and relax for a moment. Using a notepad may be mentally more relaxing, but opting for the tablet, laptop or phone is perhaps most sensible, then what you write can be filed and easily found as opposed to lost in a pile of paperwork or that ‘safe place’ that you can’t quite remember.
Now, think carefully about your daily routine and note down all the things during your day that cause you stress or unnecessary time.
These might be a daily search for your keys, lack of appropriate clean clothes, the sudden realisation that packed lunches are not prepared just before you’re due to leave the house with the kids or last-minute remembrances of important meetings or dates.
Be honest with yourself and try to take note of all of the little niggles that impact regularly.
If you’re struggling to recall everything, keep this exercise in mind for a few days and your note to hand and add to it each time something like this crops up.
These daily niggles are things to attack first. Come up with realistic and workable solutions and give them a try.
How about a determination to make the lunches the night before (or even to empower your kids to do that)? A regular wash day to get all clothes clean and dry and ready for the week ahead? Downloading a calendar app and filling in details of recurring events, plus one-off things you’ve committed to?
Simple things that don’t actually require a lot of effort or any additional time can make your life so much easier.
2. Consider what you have that you don’t need and what you need that you don’t have
As an extension of the above exercise, add to your list the things that add to your disorganisation due to their presence or absence. If those things are people, it’s a whole other article, but make a note of those too, there are perhaps actions to consider there too! Unhealthy relationships add endless stress and misery to lives.
Where the issues that are causing you problems are unnecessary or missing objects or furniture, add them to your list.
Is your wardrobe so stuffed with clothes that you mostly hate that you can’t ever find anything to wear? Maybe you need fewer clothes and a few more versatile items.
Are the family’s shoes all in a nightmare jumble at the bottom of the hallway cupboard leading to hours spent hunting for pairs? Maybe you need a shoe rack.
Would a small filing cabinet or a little stack of folders help you to put paperwork away as soon as it arrives and be able to find it when you need it?
These things will all give you solutions to your daily disorganisation issues.
Spend a week or so adding notes to your list then sit down with it again and try to consider which of these is the biggest issue and perhaps which are the easiest to resolve.
Take them one at a time and do something. Those that are easiest to resolve are a good place to start. You’ll enjoy the benefits of very little effort and it’ll motivate you to move on to the other things.
Clearing a little space in a draw and putting a Tupperware in it that you always put your keys in when you arrive home will take a matter of minutes but may save you time every day and a lot of stress.
3. Take on the decluttering
It’s likely that your list will mention clutter that you have to sort through every day.
Clutter of unwanted items in your wardrobe, overflowing shelves of half-empty bottles in your bathroom, the nightmare that is the cupboard under the kitchen sink, the airing cupboard with its teetering and life-threatening piles of old towels and the piles of paperwork where the important documents you need, invitations with vital dates and instructions and junk mail are all intermingled. We’ve all been there. It feels overwhelming, so break it down.
Tackle one room or one section of a room at a time. Don’t try to do everything all at once or you’ll end up in more of a mess than when you started.
If you feel exhausted just at the thought, set yourself a tiny goal, such as clearing out one small bathroom cabinet. Try to be ruthless, keep only what you know you’ll use. That old perfume from five years ago that someone kindly bought you but you don’t really like? You don’t need it. Bin anything you can’t pass on.
As you move onto bigger projects make yourself bin, gift and sell piles and then get them out of the house as soon as possible. If you’re not realistically going to get around to doing a car boot sale or listing items for sale online, donate them or at least find a space to store them where they’re not an everyday nuisance.
If you have large items that are in the way such as pieces of furniture you value but are preventing you from accessing cupboards or installing storage solutions that would be more practical, try to be dispassionate about whether you really need them. If you must hold on to them but they’re in the way in your current circumstances, consider storage, but keep it to a minimum. There’s no point paying to store items you’ll ultimately discard. Cubic Storage offers different sized units and flexibility on the duration of use – choose the smallest and keep it for the least possible time.
You can do it!
No-one is saying organising and decluttering your life is easy and takes no effort, but proactive effort to resolve ongoing issues is much less demanding and draining than continuing to live with frustrating, time-consuming and ultimately unnecessary stress.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. The chances are you’ve lived with clutter and aspects of disorganisation for years and changing habits and physically reorganising things takes time.
Just aim to make a start. Every marathon is completed as the result of thousands of tiny single steps!