As we start decluttering our homes, workspaces, computers, schedules … it will be useful to have some guiding principles.
These aren’t rock-solid rules but things that I’ve found to be really useful over the years, and that have helped me in many different types of decluttering.
I hope you find them useful.
- Identify the important: What’s most important to you in each area? You can’t declutter if you don’t know what’s important. Once you’ve figured it out, decisions become much easier.
- Ruthlessly eliminate the rest: If you know what’s important, now get rid of the unimportant! This is the decluttering process of course.
- Simplify before organize: It’s no use organizing too much stuff — you’re just rearranging a mess! Instead, declutter, then organization of the little that’s left is a breeze.
- You only think you need it: Often we don’t get rid of things because we think we need them — just in case, for sentimental reasons, etc. But those are false needs. We’ll work on this during this module.
- Everything has a home: Have a designated place for everything. Once you’ve decluttered, this becomes much easier. If something doesn’t have a place, give it one. Make this a habit. Then put things where they belong.
- Put space between things: When possible, leave space. Too many people cram as many things as possible in the space they have. Instead, leave space, on shelves, countertops, floors, closets … and especially in your schedule.
- Form maintenance habits for the long term: Once things are relatively decluttered, the danger is that the clutter creeps back. You have to form some small habits to keep the clutter away for the long term.
- Constantly refine: Once you get your clutter down a bit, you can keep decluttering. I got to one level after my first round, and it was huge progress … but then I found there were still things I could get rid of, and got to a new level … and that repeated itself for years. I probably could keep refining, but at this point I’m pretty happy with where things are.