Now is always the perfect time to give your home and office a makeover, purging it of the excess papers, files, bits and bobs and other “stuff” that not only takes up valuable space in your physical environment but also in your mind. Think of it as a “life laundry”.
Clutter can actually be a source of stress, prompting feelings of anxiety, frustration, distraction and even guilt. Do you suffer from a messy workspace or home (they usually go hand in hand), making it impossible to relax while interfering with your creativity and productivity?
Wasting your valuable time on just searching for stuff?
According to statistics, it is estimated that some workers waste as much as 6 weeks a year searching for lost documents, while the average person in the USA spends nearly one hour a day looking for items they know they own but cannot seem to find!
Here are our top 10 tips to de-clutter your work space or home
1. Walk through your area, making notes on any trouble spots organized by room. In the case of your home, you will need sections in your notes for the entryway, living room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. Resist the temptation to dive in and start cleaning or moving things around - stay on task to just observe and make note of any problems you see that you would like to improve. Then decide on the first task to be tackled.
2. First rule of organisation is to get your “supplies” ready before you start your task. Suggestions include file folders, labels and markers, a paper shredder (optional but useful if you are throwing away bank or credit card statements or anything with personal information on), a recycling bin, a trash bin and separate boxes to put items you plan to donate or sell.
3. Pick a location to start – easier if it is your workspace as there are limited areas but harder if it is your home. Move on to another location ONLY when that first space has been organised. This is not the time to multi-task! Only empty out as much as you can sort through in an hour. Don't overwhelm yourself.
4. Paper organisation is usually the area most in need but many people simply end up stacking and re-stacking the same papers. Start by sorting them into “like” piles (that is similar rather than liking!) and have file folders ready to store them in by category.
5. The second area usually most needing work is where your physical books, movies, music, games and magazines live. You need to weed out the items that you no longer want or need as part of your collection. Be ruthless and pass them to family, friends or colleagues; organize a swap; arrange to sell them (if your city or town has stores that buy used); or you could donate them. Someone else is going to benefit and enjoy them in turn. It's a win/win situation.
6. Every item must have a “home.” Keep repeating this to yourself so that you do not stray from this mantra. If you do not have a place to put an item, it will end up back in the clutter pile. But before you create a permanent home for any object, paper or file, make sure it’s something that is truly useful, important, valuable or otherwise worthy of keeping. Otherwise trash, donate or sell.
7. Along with the mantra of #6 above, remember these points: do not keep things out of guilt or because they were a gift; do not keep things you do not display; get rid of clothes that do not fit; and when in doubt, throw it out. If you really can't decide, put it in a "maybe" box and store that box away for 6 months and if you don't need it in 6 months, you can toss it!
8. Clutter has a nasty habit of producing more of the same. Put a box of clutter in a cupboard and before long, it spawns another box and then another. Do not make that mistake and learn to get rid of any clutter on a daily basis if possible.
9. Set up storage solutions in the areas where you need them. The first on the list should be a landing strip for when you enter your office or your home, laden with keys, shopping, handbag or backpack, laptop and more with no where to put them. The area by the door to your office or the front hall in your home act as a big filter from the outside world.
10. Finally, most of us develop flow patterns within our workspace or homes that are so strong that after some time we rarely stray from them. We need to look at our spaces from a fresh angle and a new perspective.
As you make progress, you will start feeling better about your space and your de-cluttering.
But there are many other benefits too
- Getting back control of your life
- Gaining more physical space
- Being less stressed, because you can find things
- Feeling calmer and more relaxed
- Being able to clean properly
- Stopping being embarrassed by clutter
- Feeling able to move on in life
Many don't even know where to begin so they just don't do it at all. If you feel overwhelmed, give yourself an hour at a time and you will be surprised at how much you can re-organize.