17 Simple Rules for Organizing and Unloading Clutter
What needs to be done to make your life messy and organized? This can be a daunting task for many of us, but the truth is, we could do it in jerks using a few simple rules.
This post was originally published on the Zen Habits site .
I wrote the other day about the idea of setting rules instead of goals ; Today I want to share a few ideas on rules to help you get rid of the clutter and get organized.
I know that in my life the transition from clutter to minimalism has been a slow but rewarding journey, and now I feel happy every time I look around and see the beautiful space around me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, I am here to testify that this is not impossible and requires only a few small steps that add up over time.
Here are the rules that I propose, although I do not propose to accept all of them, and even more so not all at once. Try a few of them, see how they work for you, and then try a few more.
- Be organized early and late in the day . At the start of your day, write down your Three Most Important Tasks (MIT). List a few more things you would like to do today. Clean up your table, put things in order. At the end of each day, put things in order, check your list, maybe even get things ready for tomorrow.
- When you get up from the table, put one thing aside . Every time you get up for a glass of water to go to the bathroom for a break, grab something from the table and put it away. If your desk is empty, look for something nearby.
- When you’re done eating, wash the bowl . This speaks for itself. Wash the dishes carefully and do not leave them in the sink. If there are other dishes in the sink, wash several of them as well.
- Wipe down the sink when using it . Every time you wash your hands or brush your teeth in the bathroom, wipe down the sink to keep it clean. Do the same for the kitchen sink. If you can, clean up a few things around the sink as well.
- As you walk around the room, find one thing to clean up . If you are walking from bedroom to living room, find one thing to put away on this trip. You don’t have to get hung up on putting things off, just one thing.
- When you take off your clothes, put them away . When you shower or change clothes, instead of leaving them on the floor or furniture, remove the clothes or put them in the basket. Look for a few more things to remove if they are still overwhelmed.
- Keep flat surfaces clean . Your tables, counters, desks, floors – keep them clean. If there is a lot of clutter right now, check out the following rule about decluttering on Saturdays. But if it’s doable, just start cleaning up everything on the floor (except furniture and the like). As you walk past the kitchen counter, look for items to remove other than commonly used appliances.
- At the end of the day, write the material . If you are still using papers, file them at the end of the day. If you’re all digital, clean up your computer desktop and put the files back in place.
- Work with email, don’t postpone it . When you open an email, give it room to process immediately. Read, respond, take action, or archive. Or put it on your to-do list for later if it’s a big task. Don’t open emails all the time without processing them.
- Work so that there are only three letters in your inbox . Slowly clean up hundreds or thousands of emails in your inbox. Archive or delete them, put a handful in your to-do folder, put others in information folders, unsubscribe from newsletters.
- Include the minor items you want to buy on the 30-day list . Make a 30-day list, and whenever you want to buy something that is not absolutely necessary (other than groceries, cleaning products, toiletries), list it with the date you added it. Then don’t allow yourself to buy anything until it’s on the list for 30 days. After 30 days, check if you still want before buying.
- Put your clothes in another closet or box and only take what you need . Move all your clothes to a closet in an unused room if you have them, or put them in a box or two. Take off only the clothes you really need. After a month, you will see what kind of clothes you can give.
- Clean up clutter on Saturdays . Spend an hour or two (or half a day) every Saturday morning littering one area.
- One went in, two went out . When you bring something new to your life (buy something online, get a gift), get rid of two other similar things. For example, if you are buying a pair of shoes, donate two other pairs. This way you will 1) think more about each purchase and 2) gradually own less and less. Eventually, you will want to move on to the one-in-one-out rule when you think your property is good.
- Limit the amount of things you have . You can limit yourself to 30 pieces of clothing, 30 books, or something like that. Get rid of everything else, don’t let yourself go overboard. The individual limit you set is up to you, whatever is a little uncomfortable for you is fine.
- At the end of each month, clean up the clutter on your computer . Self-explanatory. Backup!
- Clean every three months . Also self-explanatory. Spend the weekend cleaning up all your unnecessary belongings.
Of course, these are just guidelines and you should change them to suit your life.
How to apply the rules
These are many rules, but I don’t think you should apply them all at once. In fact, I suggest trying one a week. In fact, focus all week on making this rule a reality. If all goes well, leave. If not, throw it away. Try another one next week.
Set a reminder on a specific day every week (say Monday) to check how your rule works and select a new rule to try it out. Hang the paper note in a prominent place so you don’t forget to follow the rule throughout the week.
One at a time, you’ll find the rules that work for you. And gradually your life will become less cluttered, more organized. And you will be determined to do great things for the rest of your life.
Waste management and unloading rules | Zen habits