Clutter is often a sign that you’re over stressed, overworked and too rushed to bring order and organization into your life. Not only does it make things hard to find, it can actually affect your mental state, exaggerating the pressure you already put on yourself. Now that the balmy months of summer are upon us, it’s the time when things get more busy than usual. The kids are home and you need to take care of them or there are more demands from your job. Either way, making your life less cluttered before this wave of activity hits could go a long way towards relieving the chaos in your life and allowing you to meet the challenges of home or work more productively. Here are 4 ways you can physically and mentally de-clutter your life for summer:
1. Start with your work area or home office – Clear the top of your desk of all trash, look through the drawers and toss anything you don’t need and make sure any paper documents are in either an “in” or “out” box. Go through your computer desktop and either file away any open or loose folders or discard them all together. This will speed it up and help maintain a streamlined vibe in your work area. Also, don’t program too many e-mail alerts, automated calendar reminders, Facebook notifications or RSS news feeds to draw your attention from your emotional well-being, or this over-stimulation will become too difficult to process and contribute to your overall feeling of mental disorganization. Make a point to do something with any document that comes to your desk-either file it, deal with it or discard it. Don’t leave it in any spot on your desk, or it will stay there and contribute to your cluttered mental state. Create a file system for anything in your drawers and hold yourself to this system consistently.
2. Make your Home as simplified as possible – Clear the floors, re-arrange furniture to make it easier to move around, and toss out or organize any pile of forms, papers or mail that you haven’t yet figured out what to do with. Make three different piles: things you’re going to throw away, donate or keep. Use this system to organize everything in your drawers, closets and counter-tops. Learn to recognize stuff you just keep because you don’t know what to do with them. If you don’t need that 3rd remote control or know when you’ll use it again and have nowhere to put it, toss it or donate it to someone who might need it. Do you really need that extra Ottoman taking up space in the middle of your living room? Probably not. Organize your drawers and label the insides so you know what should and should not go in there.
3. Keep Up Good Kitchen Habits – So often, pots and pans go cascading everywhere when we open a bottom drawer, the dirty dishes pile up, a stain won’t come off on your marble counter-top and the old pork roast from last week starts stinking up the refrigerator. This is because we often have bad kitchen habits: we don’t clean as we cook; we shove things in the bottom cupboard without thinking and don’t plan how we’re going to use dinner leftovers the next day. And with more barbecues on the way, your kitchen is about to get ever more swamped with foil pans, grilling utensils and somewhere in your fridge to put that extra, uneaten brisket. Not only should you organize where things in your kitchen go and keep putting them in those same spots, you should also be mindful of how you leave your kitchen when you’re done with it. Plan your dinners AND lunches for the week when you go grocery shopping. The more maintenance you display while you shop for food and cook, the less you have to de-clutter and clean when its time to cook again.
4. Simplify your commitments – Does your daughter need to go to ballet, soccer practice and flute lessons all in one week…every week? That’s a lot of running around to do. Do you have to volunteer for every church bake-off? Do you really need to go paint-balling every weekend? Try and reduce the number of commitments you make for yourself to the bare minimum. Don’t stop all these responsibilities and hobbies all together, just try not and make a hectic schedule become your new normal. Make time to just decompress and process all that is going on. Hobbies and routines and responsibilities are often necessary, but don’t let band rehearsals, book clubs, church responsibilities and group recipe courses take over your life unless you truly love these things.
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