How To Declutter Your Life!

Posted: May 27, 2011

‘How to declutter’ is the first question to ask, before you learn how to live a simple life; what is clutter and how to be organized without it. 

By Debjani Talapatra

For those who believe in Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra, these state that clutter is the number one cause of driving away good energies from your house. Whether or not you believe in them, one must concur that living amidst clutter is not pleasant. No one likes walking in to an apartment covered in newspapers, books, laundry, shopping bags and other paraphernalia.

What is clutter, and how it affects us

The clutter we mindlessly accumulate around ourselves affects us in many different ways. Apart from being aesthetically unpleasing, clutter can potentially become a fire hazard and by gathering dust also lead to an increase in dust mites, and thereby dust allergies. For those with young children, clutter can significantly increase the risk of minor or major accidents – they may chew on bills and letters lying around or even trip over objects left on the floor.

When parents let things pile up, it also teaches kids that they need not pick up their things! After all, you can’t ask your kids to do their chores and clear up their room, if they see that you leave your own bedroom in a mess.

We tend to hold on to things for a host of reasons; sometimes, for sentimental reasons or because we feel that it will come in handy in the unspecified future, in some extreme cases, people suffer from serious anxiety over parting with their belongings.

Perhaps one reason for clutter accumulating is that we end up buying much more than we need – so, looking at our shopping carefully is a way to avoid both clutter and prevail against the trend of rising consumerism in India!

How to Declutter your home – and life!

Luckily for most of us, the clutter we surround ourselves with is not due to psychological issues but a result of inertia and not clearing up regularly. With a little bit of discipline, however, de-cluttering can become a way of life.

Commit to de-clutter regularly. Set up a schedule for clearing things and stick to it. This will prevent a pile-up of clutter, which will seem impossible to clear up.

Don’t hide clutter. Out of sight may be out of mind, but it does not mean successful de-cluttering! Don’t move clutter from one room to another, especially, to a store room. In fact, the lucky people with store rooms should make it a point to do bi-annual sweeps and clear out junk.

Dealing with paper clutter. The most common form of clutter is paper clutter in the form of newspapers, bank statements, mail and bills. Make it a monthly habit to get rid of old newspapers and opt for electronic statements and bills as far as possible. This is also a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

Too many books? While buying and reading books is amazing, when they start to spill out of bookcases, it is time to take some action. While it is heartbreaking to part with books, there are options to find new, loving homes for them. A lot of bookstores, (Blossom in Bangalore, for instance) gladly take pre-owned books and give you store credit in return. Additionally, you could have a Book Swap, where you can exchange your books with a friend or colleague, thereby increasing your repertoire without spending money or space on new books. The good, old-fashioned option of becoming a library member is another great way to minimize book purchases.

More tips on how to be organized

E-Waste Management. In the past 15 years, electronic waste has grown tremendously. This includes not only large consumer durables like TVs, refrigerators etc., but also smaller items like CDs, MP3 players, pen drives, laptops etc. Unlike in the US, where there are several junk removal companies, in India there are not too many options. However, do find out if there are any e-waste management and recycling options in your city, (such as GEMS in Chennai). Also, try not to replace any electronic items before their life is really over.

Regular wardrobe check. While clothes may make a (wo)man, too many clothes maketh a giant mess! A lot of advice columns often ask people to discard clothes they haven’t worn for over a year. That is easier said than done since we tend to hold on to old clothes or emotional reasons. A good way to give away old clothes is to swap them with friends/relatives or, even better, donate them to charity.

De-clutter and make money! Garage sales, thrift stores and swap meets are very popular in the West and lately have started burgeoning in India as well. Locate these in your city and sell your unwanted clothes and have the satisfaction of knowing that they have found someone who will appreciate them as much as you did.

Dealing with clutter may often seem daunting, but if you start with baby steps and stick to a de-cluttering schedule, soon it will become a part of your life and you’ll find yourself living in a Zen-like, well-organized home filled with positive energies.

Cluttered home pic via Shutterstock

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