How To: Unclutter Your World
by Garen Jemian
Nowadays, if you want to thrive in an efficiency- and productivity-based society, it's best to have a game plan. One that will tame the chaos in your modern jungle and will allow you to be at
your prime, day in and day out. It all starts at home and in the mind. They don't teach you most of these skills in school but with a little bit of elbow grease and a reasonable commitment, you
can easily put your mess in order and focus on your daily grind. You'll be surprised at how much these simple steps can reestablish order, increase focus and boost your energy levels.
Step 1: Unclutter Your Space
Clean Your House: As the saying goes, "A cluttered home is a cluttered mind." Evidence exists that a messy environment limits your ability to focus. Before you jump into an overhaul of your life, first start by doing your bed. Literally. Once that's done, proceed with cleaning up your entire home. Cleanliness is not as important a factor as a high level of tidiness. Make sure everything is in its right place and if you must, have a closet where you can throw all your junk in. The important thing is that your living space be clear of clutter and visually pleasing. When you're finished with the house, it's time to do the same for your car, then your desk at the office.
Practise Minimalism: Detachment from useless things are a great way to not only reduce clutter in your home but it also sends a great feeling of liberation right through your bones. Prepare two bags: one for garbage, one for donations. Start with your closet and get rid of anything you haven't worn in over a year unless they hold sentimental value. Next, tackle the household for anything you don't deem useful to your daily life. Repeat this process annually. If you're not sure of anything, hang onto it for another week or two then reassess. This exercise not only minimizes junk in your house but also trains your mind to become a smarter shopper.
Step 2: Unclutter Your Time
Keep An Agenda: If there's one powerful use for your smartphone, the scheduling app would be at the top of the list. If you prefer handwriting, then so be it. Whatever your method, if it's important enough, pencil it in. You may want to categorize your events such as personal, business, wellness, family etc.
Give Yourself Time: If you find yourself frantically running out of the house and have a habit of showing up late to your engagements, then you need to start adding some minutes to your prep time. The simple trick of setting your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier than normal can have incredible effects on your stress levels. If you think all you'll need is 30 minutes to get ready, outsmart yourself and set the clock for 45 minutes.
Don't Overcommit: Some people have a very hard time saying no. Others simply overestimate what they can achieve in the time they've allotted themselves for a given activity. Whatever your handicap, overcommitment is something you'll want to resolve as soon as possible. Learn to leave space between events on your schedule and above all, learn to turn requests down. If you are asked to do something that you simply can't say no to, consider giving a counteroffer. It is often better to under promise and over deliver than the other way around.
Live At Your Convenience: Your schedule should revolve around your life instead of other people's. Similarly to overcommitment, a counteroffer is a life saver here and can simplify your world because the engagements you commit to will fit with your schedule and lifestyle.
Step 3: Unclutter Your Mind
Make A Budget: There is no point in making money if you don't know how to manage it. The less you make, the more important it is to stick to a detailed budget. A good financial plan can offer immediate stress reduction and a dramatic increase in savings. Those of you who already have one can attest to that. Though the purpose of this article isn't to give you a detailed breakdown on how to accomplish this, start by the following:
1) Write down every penny that you make weekly, monthly and annually
2) Write down every expense that you have weekly, monthly and annually
3) Tally up the totals and allocate funds to each expense
4) Hopefully you make more than you spend. If so, with the leftovers, decide how much you want to put in your pocket for spending money and put the rest in your savings account or investments.
If there's no money left, look back on your expenses and see if you can cut anything. If you still come up short, it's time to look at the bigger picture. Perhaps you need a new job or consider making some difficult decisions like trading the new Mercedes for a reliable Honda. Remember, the tighter the budget, the more stress you add to your life. It's that simple.
Manage Your Energy: Just as one would manage time and money, your energy is begging to be cared for. It's often the one that gets left behind and rarely gets noticed; that is, until you burn out and blame everything but your self-management skills. To manage energy isn't always straight-forward since it's not something you can easily measure. Time, stress, diet, lifestyle, commitments and resources all play a role in how much you can get accomplished in a given day, week, month and ultimately your lifetime. Take some time to evaluate all aspects of your life that either increase or decrease your level of energy. Write it all down and see if anything is off balance. Think with your mind but listen to your body. If anything sticks out like a sore thumb, it's time to devise a plan to deal with it.
Plan Ahead: Commitments come in all shapes and sizes. Business meetings, taking the kids to their soccer games or dinner with friends, each come with their own requirements. Planning ahead eliminates any last minute stresses that could have been avoided altogether. The key is to take a moment for each event and ask if anything needs to be done in preparation. Rather than wait until the last minute, do yourself a favour and get a head start.
Create Time and Space to Think: Most parents would surely agree that a household can often be more stressful than an office. At home and at work, there are obligations, tasks to accomplish, deadlines to meet, phone calls to answer and requests to fulfill. How great would it be to truly have some real me time? I'm not referring to boys night out or dinner plans with old friends. I mean alone time. A moment and a place where you can focus on you and only you. Consider waking up before anyone else and enjoy a daily routine of a warm beverage on the balcony, try a mid-day walk in the park or before going to bed, find a moment to sit down quietly and regroup your thoughts.
Some of these items are easier said than done. As always, start small and work your way towards the more challenging ones. Add or remove anything that doesn't pertain to you or create your own to do list. When done, bask in the glory of your life. One that is free of clutter, focused and full of positive energy.