One of the very best ways to kick clutter out of your life, is to prevent it from ever appearing. Here are five easy steps you can take to get on the road to a less-cluttered life!

Do It Now & Do It Right!

There is a whole blog post waiting in my head to be written about the pursuit of perfection and how it creates clutter in our lives. Give me a little bit, and you’ll get one doozie of a read. Until then, I am going to say the following on the topic: Do the little things now, and do them right. In the moment, procrastinating on smaller parts of a project may feel like relief, but really you’re just starting an avalanche of clutter. When you are done eating, put your dishes in the dishwasher, or wash them and put them away, instead of leaving them on the counter. When you’re done cooking, put the trash in the rubbish bin and the leftover materials in the cabinet. Taking the two minutes to follow the loose ends of your project can dramatically reduce the likelihood of avalanche clutter conditions down the road, and it really only takes two seconds to deal with things as they come, rather than putting them on the back burner. If you are like me, and like lists, write down all the little steps you’ve done to follow through on your projects and you’ll realize how much you’ve done in a day! Go you, super producer!

Leave It Outside!

I’m not the first person to say that the key to kicking out paper clutter is to not create it. It is one of those “common sense” things that is just not so common. Take your mail out of your mailbox, sort out the junk mail, and put it directly into the recycling or trash. Don’t even bring it inside. (Worse, don’t bring in the mail and leave it in an unsorted pile on the counter. Do it now! Do it Right!). Watch for a post on clutter busting through technology where I can help you reduce your paper-load using your digital resources. Until then, contact each of your vendors and sign up for paperless billing. Do you really need your paper copies? No. You can save all of the digital bills in a digital folder (after you pay them/schedule payment upon receipt of an invoice. Do it now! Do it right!). In my opinion, virtual folders of digital files cause less stress than piles of paper on your desk!

Clear The Decks!

Set yourself up for success by clearing all of your surfaces of any clutter on a nightly basis. Surfaces can include your counters, floors, desktops, and inboxes (virtual & physical). If you are keeping up with your day to day (Doing it Right (see a pattern?!) by Doing it Now), then this should only take a few moments of your time, but can seriously help in your stress reduction the following day. Empty your sink, put away the toys, file the paperwork, take the two minutes to put things where they really go. Make a place for things you need to follow through on at a later time (long-term projects, not small details that can be resolved in the DIN/DIR plan), so that you can easily access your resources. If you have a few minutes to do so, prepare the things you will need tomorrow morning tonight, to help yourself to get a head start. If you’re in survival mode, just make sure you know where the things you need are for the next day and hit the sheets.

If You Build It, It Will Go!

Clutter builds up over time. Often, for a variety of reasons, we simply hold onto items longer than their useful life. If you are holding onto an item, and you do not intend on getting rid of it, make sure to honor it by creating a place for it to live. It isn’t possible to put things “away” when they don’t have a home. Do this thoughtfully, and with consideration for longterm maintenance. Don’t just go buy bins and throw things in them. Figure out if things are worth saving, then figure out the most effective way to do it, not the other way around. Otherwise, you learn the hard way (not that I have ever ::ahem:: done this one…) that you’ve spent lots of resources ($ and time) on organizing things you don’t even want! If you love it, use it, and its worth it, by all means, keep it… But do it in a way that makes sense. Try being creative and using items that you have in your home to store the items you keep, rather than buying something new!

Give Up The Ghost!

Sometimes the hard truth is that the only way to prevent clutter is to not make it. If you have something that you are keeping “in case you need it” or “to be nice”, but you haven’t “needed” it in months and the person you’re being “nice” to doesn’t even know/care, then maybe it’s time to move on. Bless others with items that once held great meaning or offered great help to you by offering it to them when you no longer require them. Donate to charities, friends, family, and others whom will appreciate your resources. Do not simply create clutter for others. This isn’t nice, as it creates stress in others in exchange for your own. Look for charities that raise money for causes you believe in, and see if they accept donations. You’d be surprised who will even come to your location to pick up your items! Once you create the pile for donation, DONATE THEM. Don’t wait until you have “everything you’re going to donate”. You will NEVER finish this pile. Instead, make smaller trips as is convenient in your daily travels. Your benefactors will thank you, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment both from following through on your donation and from reducing your physical clutter. Give it up and reduce your stress! 🙂

You are worth it. The work will be hard, but the rewards will be great! Listening to YOURSELF and making decisions based upon what YOU need isn’t selfish. It gives you the opportunity to present the best of yourself to the world, give more of your happiest self to your family and friends, and create the life you’ve dreamed. I don’t have it all together. There is a lot of work I have to do, and I will be faced with lots of challenges. This post is as much for myself on hard days as it is to motivate you on yours. But in the case that I’m a step ahead of you on this journey, and my words may help motivate you to move toward your best life, then they are worth sharing. 

This is only one post in a series called Kicking the Clutter. If you enjoyed what you read here, come back, and read more on how to target specific areas of your clutter and break them down to kick them out of your life! I’m glad you came, and look forward to seeing you come back to get just a little more wicked awesome with me :)!