Thursday, May 30, 2013

5 Ways to Declutter Your Life

I often come across articles on how to declutter this or that, but very few actually list how to declutter your life. Most decluttering articles are about individual portions of your home or work area. While decluttering these areas is great, and they will in fact lead to a happier life if you declutter them, decluttering your life is crucial to your overall happiness.

In this article I have listed five areas of your life which you should attempt to declutter. Some of the things involve material things, but others are areas that are of a far more personal level. These five things are by no means the only things you should seek to declutter in your life, but they’re a start.

Begin this by doing one thing at a time. If you try to do all five things at once, you may become overwhelmed. The purpose behind decluttering your life is to help you to lead a happier life. If you try to pack too much decluttering all at once, you will more than likely become overstressed and frustrated, which do not lead to a happier you. Go slow, take baby steps, and remember that your ultimate desire in all of this is happiness.

Clean house: Part ways with unnecessary things.  Sell them, donate them, or just throw them out. If your closet is overflowing with shoes and clothes, cull some of them out. You know those jeans you haven’t been able to wear since your first pregnancy 10 years ago? Get rid of them. And those cute pumps that you can hardly walk in? Get rid of those too.

This rule doesn't just apply to your closet, either. Go through all areas of your house and reduce. Do you really need 50 plates when you’re the only one who lives there? Or do you really need all those wine glasses when you gave up alcohol years ago?

The best way to go about this is to go into each room with three boxes. Label one box for “donate”, one box for “sell”, and another box for “trash”. Sort things throughout the room into those boxes. Once finished,  place the donate box by the front door so you can take it to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army the next time you leave the house. For the things you want to try to sell, go on Craigslist and EBay and try to sell them on those sites. If there are things you are unable to sell, donate them. For the things in the “trash” box, throw them away immediately.

Drive less: Try driving less and walking or biking more. Obviously this option is not acceptable for everyone, but for those who live close to the store or to work, try going without your car. By doing this, you’ll help save the environment and you’ll also get a little exercise in – neither of which are bad things, by the way.

Don’t buy anything new: Many people have taken on projects of going a whole year or more without buying anything new. Of course, they still purchased necessities (food, not lattes), but they chose to not buy anything else new for the amount of time they decided on. For further reading on the topic, read Angela Barton’s blog.

Less social networking: Do you really need to check your tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, and any other accounts multiple times a day? Do you even need to check them every day? Try to cut back on the amount of time you spend on social networking. Better yet, set aside a certain amount of time, like 30 minutes, every day for social networking. This does not mean 30 minutes per site. This means 30 minutes for you to check each site. This also means that this is the only time you can log onto those sites. Setting a certain amount of time each day will help you to wean yourself off of the addiction to those sites. You will eventually learn how to spend your time on these sites appropriately.

What does cutting back on social networking have to do with decluttering your life? Think about how much time you spend each and every day on those sites. How could you better utilize that time? Could you be spending it writing? Or perhaps decluttering your house? There are so many things you could be doing instead of worrying about if someone has “Liked” your latest self-portrait in a bathroom mirror.

Reduce negativity: This one will probably be the hardest, as negativity can come in the form of many things – such as family, friends, and coworkers. Negativity can also come with the internet (or your use of it), the lack of time you spend with your kids, or the junk food that’s piled up in your kitchen. Figure out what things cause a negative influence within your life and try to reduce it. If junk food leaves you feeling negative, stop eating it. If spending too much time on the internet leaves you feeling negative, stop logging in or reduce the amount of time you spend online. If it’s people in your life that are causing the negativity, try to limit the amount of socialization you do with them. Clearly this can’t always be done, but try spending less time texting them or Facebooking them. If you think you can help them get past whatever it is that’s causing them to be so negative, try to do so.  

Negativity will prevent you from finding happiness, no matter how spectacular the other aspects of your life may be. Trying to reduce the amount of negativity you are exposed to on a daily basis will help you to find that nice balance you’re seeking.

If you are the source of the negativity, do some serious inward searching. What is causing you to be so negative? Is it because your house is always a mess? Is it because you work so much you rarely get to see your family? Or do you just feel crotchety because you’re not getting enough exercise or eating healthy foods?

If the source of your negativity is lack of good food and exercise, then those two things are easy to fix. Go through your kitchen and throw out all of the junk food you have. Start buying more produce and less processed foods. Try going vegetarian or RAW for a week or more and allow your body to cleanse itself. Start every morning with some light exercise. You can do simple stretches or you could go all out and start jogging regularly.

Do what works best for you, but make sure you’re doing something to involve change. If you need to push yourself to enact change, then do so. You know yourself best, so do what is best for you. Just make sure you are forming good habits that will get the change process rolling. Most important of all, remember that you are doing all of this to find happiness. 

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