Clear Your Mind by Clearing Away the Clutter

how to declutterDecluttering your life can help improve your focus

Is your living space becoming cluttered? Do you find that it’s hard to keep after all the papers, knickknacks, magazines, electronics, and coffee mugs that are strewn about your home? If you’re not careful, you can fill up your home pretty quickly, and before you know it, you aren’t sure how to claw your way out!

For some people, it can feel tiresome or overwhelming to live in clutter. Your life can feel disorganized, and you might feel helpless when you look at the stacks of items around you. If you are ready to declutter your surroundings, we have some suggestions for you. Try these tips, and little by little, you can gain control of your belongings!

Tip 1: Just one item per day
If you find it hard to throw things away, start out small. Select just one item per day and get rid of it. By the end of the year, you will have 365 fewer things!

Tip 2: What comes in must go out
Try to restore balance in your home by setting a rule that “what comes in must go out.” With this rule, every time you bring new items into your home, you have to get rid of that many items too.

Tip 3: The five-minute scramble
When you enter a cluttered room, you may not be sure where to begin. Rather than giving up, grab a bag and set a five-minute timer. Do a five-minute scramble to gather as many things as you can to get rid of. If you do this for a full week, you’ll be amazed at how much you can cut down.

Tip 4: One spot at a time
If the above tricks aren’t working for you, another solution is to clean one spot at a time. Pick just one drawer or one cabinet or one corner of your home and decide that you will focus on that. Don’t worry about the rest of your home for now. Just clean out one spot. That way you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, and you can take on the next spot tomorrow.

Tip 5: Take photos for your memory book
Sometimes our belongings hold sentimental value, and it is hard to part with them. For these items, one suggestion is to take a photo of them and then give them away. This will give you the memory of them without taking up the space and gathering dust in your home.

Tip 6: The 24-hour purchase rule
Part of the battle against clutter is our impulse to purchase things—oftentimes things that we don’t really need. To help guard against this, give yourself a 24-hour rule on most non-essential purchases. If after 24 hours, you still really think you want the item, then purchase it. But if not, go without. It will be one less piece of clutter!

Tip 7: For those “hard to get rid of” items
Having trouble getting rid of that sweater you haven’t worn since high school? Or that pair of shoes you haven’t worn since that wedding you attended? For items like this, put them in a storage box, and write the date on it. If you haven’t needed them in one full calendar year, it’s probably safe to get rid of them.

With these tips, you should be able to begin the process of decluttering your home. And with a more streamlined home, you may find that your mind feels less cluttered too!


These tips are courtesy of the Harris School of Business. Our weekly blog offers lifestyle tips and advice on career development, health, and wellness. Find out more about our school by contacting us online.