If you’re reading this, it probably won’t surprise you to know that a clutter-filled life leads to a stress-filled life. You can never find what you need when you need it, which leads to mad dashes in the mornings and more messes to clean up at night. Unmanageable surroundings make us feel out of control in general. And clutter has an uncanny way of creeping itself into all areas of life–your home, at work, in the car…
Decluttering your life involves more than organizing and purging in your physical space, though. It requires a thoughtful approach to scheduling your time and prioritizing your tasks.
Luckily, when you break the decluttering process down into sections and come up with game plans for each, it is possible to feel clutter free again.
We’re taking a look at all the places in life that easily fill up with clutter so you can devise that game plan and start tackling your goal of a decluttered life. We’ve included links to other articles for further reading for just about each area, too. Read on to learn all you need to declutter your life for real.
Declutter Your Life, Section by Section:
Declutter Your Life at Home
Decluttering goes beyond the physical, but your surrounds are a great place to start. For some, clutter on the outside means clutter on the inside. So organizing your home is a great first step when trying to declutter your life.
When it comes to home organization, it can feel like a constantly changing cycle, especially in a group dynamic. What worked for your family last year may not carry into the next. As work, school and daily habits change, so must your home organization.
When it is time to find a place for all those new Christmas gifts and gadgets, it may also be a great time to re-evaluate your organization strategy. Make some time to declutter seasonal clothes, rethink that guest bathroom storage and give the kitchen and pantry a clean sweep after all the holiday eating. Closets are always a struggle, so tackle those kinds of problem areas when you have the most energy and motivation.
For the nitty-gritty details on decluttering your home, check out my home organization tour. It takes you room by room with specific details for all the problem spots and clutter zones in your home.
Declutter Your Work Life
First of all, be clear about your priorities. Start off decluttering at work by creating some balance for yourself. Set clear goals to know how much you want to commit to your job, and leave time for other activities.
Next, make the necessary changes required to maximize your time away from home. Maybe that involves automating one of your projects. Perhaps it’s making the shift to working from home. There are plenty of benefits to working from home–no commute, more family time and a little less stress–all of which will add up to an uncluttered life. To make that strategy a reality, you’ll need a workspace in your house.
No matter where you decide to work, an obvious bit of advice is to declutter your workspace. Similar to wanting a clean kitchen before you start cooking, a tidy workspace leads to a focused worker.
Declutter Your Digital Life
Your digital life requires just as much attention in your decluttering journey than your physical environment–if not more. The amount of information being presented to us when we pick up our phones or hop on the computer is overwhelming, to say the least. It’s helpful to monitor the number of inputs we allow in our lives.
One great way to declutter digitally is to give yourself a clean slate in your email. Unsubscribe from extra newsletters and promotional emails that don’t bring you any value in order to keep the unneeded info out of your inbox.
Computer files can also be overwhelming. It’s important to backup photographs to make sure you have all your memories safe and updated. But without any kind of organization system in place, your computer can be another place where clutter enters our lives.
Take some time to organize files chronologically or by subject. Use folders and back everything up on external hard drives. Upload your cell phone photos and files onto your hard drives or digital drives as well. Losing digital information is frustrating, so keep a schedule and backup files often so you aren’t relying on unpredictable computers and phones to preserve important media files.
Just be sure to take the time to place items in the right files when you do to keep from cluttering up your computer.
Declutter Life on the Road–In Your Car
The car is almost like a mobile office for most of us. Being constantly on the go, picking up family members and waiting for the next time to shuffle children off to school or one of their many activities, random items collect in the small space that is your car.
For that reason, this is a space that needs to be cleaned often, but keeping it organized will also help keep it clutter free. At the very least, add extra storage to seat backs and pockets to make space for those random necessities like tissues and of course have a spot to stash trash.
Finally, set resolutions as a family that whatever you bring into the car, leaves with you. Hopefully this helps omit the piles of shoes, water bottles and toys that need to be emptied out of the trusty family vehicle at the end of a week.
Declutter the Paper Trail
Sorting and storing your important documents could be one of the most beneficial steps of getting organized for the new year. Investing in a filing system that can keep your sensitive information safe is vital. However, taking the time to find a method for storing all your everyday papers and mail is just as imperative.
This is the year to add a mail sorting station to your message center. How are you going to corral all those school papers, fliers and projects that come home on a daily basis? Making a habit of filing your papers will keep the task manageable. Plus, take some time to find storage for all those beautiful holiday and sentimental cards you just received.
Sentimental papers such as cards and photos can be so hard to organize. It’s easy to get caught up in the memories mid-organizing, which holds many of us back from actually getting anything done. Even so, there are great techniques out there for getting these types of papers in check. Here are some fun ways to repurpose sentimental cards to get some use out of them by putting them on display, and here are our top tips on photo organization.
Declutter Your Schedule
Decluttering your life does not just have to do with organizing the physical things around you. You should also take into account your schedule and calendar. Making a conscious effort to write down your events and plan for you and your family on a weekly basis is time well spent. By thinking through your week in advance, you can better prepare for upcoming events and avoid chaotic mornings that inevitably lead to more clutter.
Laura broke down a handy six-tip routine for organizing your life on a weekly basis. It’s definitely worth a quick read!
Planning out your schedule is important for a decluttered life, but the only real way we know of to keep your schedule organized is by writing it down. Find new ways to keep everyone in the know of family, school, work and extracurriculars. Try a calendar in a centralized location where everyone can see it often and add to it. Maybe this is the year to start using apps to keep track of your to-do list.
Meal planning can also be a way to “declutter your schedule” so to speak. By planning your meals from a weekly perspective, you’ll know just what to grab from the grocery store instead of buying a whole bunch of food you might cook up. If you know what you need before heading to the store, you’ll buy less fluff and waste less later on, too. You’ll also bypass the “What should we do for dinner?” question at the end of the day. Keep yourself and family on task and well fed during a busy week by planning and prepping meals ahead of time.
Declutter Pet Supplies
Your furry and fine feathered friends can create a lot of clutter. As you start to file and sort your important papers be sure to save a space for your pet immunizations and registration papers. Make sure all their items are up to date and take some time to add their important dates to your calendar.
Pet toys and bedding need a refresh just like the other children in your life. Declutter the pet toy bin and clean out those broken and not so good looking ones. Make sure to wash or replace your loving pet’s bedding, climbing trees or litter boxes, and give their crates a deep clean. Your pet will thank you and everyone will be so much happier with clean living, playing and lounging spaces!
Just like your food pantry, double check expiration dates for canned pet food. Donate or toss treats or meals your pet has shaken their tail at. There is no reason to forget the four-legged family members when you begin the decluttering process. Here are some specific tips for decluttering pet supplies and here are some fun ideas for creating new storage options for their toys.
Finally, Declutter Your Mind
Perhaps this is the time to do less as well as have less. Decluttering doesn’t need to mean you are only re-organizing your material items. It can also mean you are simplifying every aspect of your life.
Maybe it is the time to adopt some aspects of minimalist living. It is the ultimate decluttering process after all. Take some time to take a digital freeze. Let go of your phone and apps for one full day a week and reconnect with your love of reading, board games or bike rides. Focus on turning off the TV or the news and free yourself from that modern constant need to be in the know all the time. Make a concerted effort to push away all the digital clutter. Take some more time for yourself and be comfortable saying “no.” Prioritize what is most important to you, accomplish those goals first and then make time for the rest.
Ready to take on a more simplified lifestyle? Take some advice from an uncommitted minimalist (me) on how to live minimally.
Sometimes the physical process of decluttering is enough to reset yourself for a fresh start, but other times you need to declutter more than the stuff. Take the time to evaluate all the aspects of your life that need some clearing. Maybe you need to set small goals for yourself, or maybe it is time to delegate new chores to family members and co-workers. Whatever the case, now is the time to process all the extra and purge. Hopefully these tips will help you start the new year with a clean slate.