In my previous Tidy Up post , I shared about the amazing benefits of committing to a tidier environment, especially the satisfying “feel-good” emotions that come with it. Do read it if you missed it earlier.
In this post, I will talk about 5 immediate places that you can start decluttering as you set out on your tidying up journey, to see an immediate positive impact. I can attest from experience that decluttering even helped me feel physically light, and sleep better at night. I also feel highly productive and active with fewer things around and, consequently, lesser cleaning up to do on an ongoing basis. But, before sharing the 5 sure-shot places to start, I will share two philosophies that help me choose the most appropriate target spots-
(A) I try to take up the difficult spots first, only because the delta difference is most significant there, and the feeling of accomplishment, of having overcome my laziness and of finally treading the Everest of all cleaning endeavours is hugely satisfying.
(B) I try to take up the areas that I encounter the most often i.e. ones that bothers me on a daily/weekly basis, as opposed to a place that I would visit only a couple of times in a year. For such spaces, I would rather seek help from others or make it a project for holiday time.
[Between these two philosophies, I usually flip the coin :)]
Target #1 – My number #1 space for decluttering is my set of electronic devices. I have a bad habit of saving files on my desktop and within no time, the desktop turns into a clutter of files and folders, most of which I don’t need to see beyond a day. Similarly, my phone tends to get perpetually full with media, most of which I don’t even see and I end up losing precious memory space. The third sub-target area in this group is my web browser. I try my best to keep my open browsers appropriate to my task at hand, and specifically remind myself to close browsers that I am no longer seeing. Believe me, there were days when the same pages were open on my browser for days at end and 90% of the times, they don’t serve any purpose being there. So out they go. If you feel like keeping the browser open as a means to remind you of a task, it is much better to put a post-it on your desktop and add the link to the browser there. I put this space as #1 because I assume that most of those who will read this article will be people who look at their electronic devices every single day. So it meets my above criteria (B).
Target #2 – My number #2 go-to place for cleaning is the wardrobe closet. Again, it is a space that one sees daily and that can suck up a lot of time and energy to sort, if one tries to do it daily. Instead, if you resolve to clean out all the mess, fold your clothes, organise your shelves and stack everything neatly, you will reap the benefits of your time invested for many days to come. Just ensure that you are personally cleaning out your closet and not outsourcing it to someone else. There are 2 reasons for that – one is that you will exactly know what is kept where and will be able to reach for it quickly. Second is that since you would have personally invested time and energy to clean it, you would be mindful to keep it that way for long, and not create a mess in haste. In my following posts, I will discuss step by step, the method that I used to declutter my own closet space – the mammoth ‘Project Mt. Everest’.
Target #3 – My number #3 declutter target is usually the pantry closet. Even at this moment, it is not in top shape, but it is a lot better than it used to be. It was not unusual for me to encounter half eaten pack of chips, an expired box of cereal, an empty box housing only crumbs of some delicious cookies and the likes of these. But, thanks to a lot of lifestyle changes, I have stopped stocking my pantry with junk and processed food, and as a result, my cravings for such foods has also drastically reduced. So, not only is it good to declutter the pantry for aesthetic reasons, but it can even have a positive impact on your health as well. A cleaner, more organised and optimally stocked pantry can really help with grocery planning, and also ensure that you and your family are consuming items that were thoughtfully bought and used within their best-before date range. So, more than the physical appearance aspect, this one is almost a necessity.
Target #4 – My number #4 go-to space for cleaning is my work desk. The truth is that I don’t have one, per se. I work primarily from home, so it is even more difficult to appear neat, when most of the times, my laptop and work papers are strewn across the bed. But when I do work on a desk, I try to keep the immediate space clutter free, as it tends to drive my attention away from the things that really need it. So if I am not using my laptop charger, I remind myself to put it away, especially since dangling chargers are highly prone to getting damaged. I even ordered a few cable ties online, and use them occasionally to neatly bundle the cables that don’t stay together easily, such as the wire of my phone charger that doesn’t wind around the adapter.
Target #5 – I was saving the best (and the most important) for the last. My number #5 focus area to declutter is the mind. Whatever is happening outside of our physical body is the stimulus that the world gives us. It can be in the form of words (mean or kind) that others say to us; it can be in the form of deeds (supportive or hurtful) that are done unto us; it can be in the form of experiences (happy, sad, and so forth) that we go through and much, much more. However, it is our mind that does the interpretation for us and that determines the kind of person we become, the way we respond to that stimulus and the way we allow those stimuli to continue to affect us in the long run. So, the most important place to start cleaning, for a truly happy and liberating experience of life is the mind. This is one of the toughest projects that you will ever sign up for, but one that is the most needed in EVERY SINGLE PERSON’S LIFE. It will need you to dust away envy, to sweep out regret, to brush aside anger, to vacuum away all judgment, to wash out self-doubt, and to spray a generous coating of forgiveness on the inside, so that YOU become in control of situations rather than the situations taking control of you . Certainly not a mean task! More on this in my future posts.
Now that you have a quick cheat sheet on where to begin, I will gradually take you ahead on how to approach each of these target areas. I guess, spring (and spring-cleaning) came calling early 🙂