The Complete Guide to Decluttering Your Life

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With winter drawing to a close, you may have the itch to return to the old tradition of spring cleaning. Home may be where the heart is, but the clutter of your life extends far beyond the threshold of your abode. It’s time you think outside the four walls of your home and consider decluttering other areas of your day-to-day life. Click on the images below to get started.

Daily/Weekly Task

Daily/Weekly Tasks

Decluttering your life is not just about getting rid of things; it’s about reimagining your life processes and improving them to make your day-to-day easier.

Cleaning your home can be a tedious task and procrastinating only makes matters worse. Set up a schedule to clean a part of the house each day rather than saving it all up for your weekend.

Preparing in advance is a great way to avoid stress while helping you feel prepared and confident for any situation. Consider packing your bag the night before work. Your morning will go much smoother and any miscellaneous life “clutter” won’t derail you since you’ve already prepared.

Meal planning has several benefits. By setting the menu before shopping, you avoid unnecessary purchases at the grocery store. Prepping your lunch for the week is just as helpful as packing your bag the night before.

Buy an alarm clock and leave your cell phone in another room at night. Studies show screen time before bed is double trouble. Not only does it make it more challenging to fall asleep, it affects how sleepy and alert you are the next day.1

Aim to be wherever you are going 10 minutes early. This small window of extra time helps you prepare and avoid feeling rushed or overwhelmed.

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Finances

Finances

The first step to decluttering your finances is creating a budget. Take inventory of all your income, your expenses and the status of all of your accounts (lines of credit, loans, car payments, etc.). This will help you determine what money you have currently, how much you will make and what you owe, as well as the basic things you spend money on to survive like rent, utilities and groceries. Companies like Mint allow you to sync your accounts safely, collecting all this data for you into one easy-to-use interface. Use the reports available to reflect on where your money is going and what your areas of improvement are.

If you’re one of the 80% of Americans who find themselves in debt, it’s time to take control of your finance.2 Debt is the definition of financial clutter, so prioritize getting all your balances to zero. Not sure where to start? Try one of many debt calculators. Debt calculators take into account APR and interest accrued, as well as how much of a monthly payment you’re able to put towards a debt or how fast you can pay it down in a given time.

Once you’re out of the red, you’re ready to start saving. Revisit your budget and see how much you can tuck away for a rainy day. Not sure what your goal should be? Financial experts suggest having six months salary in an emergency fund. Try apps like Qapital, where you can set up personalized savings goals. One option allows you to round up all of your debit card purchases and keeps the difference in your Qapital savings account. It’s a simple way to save small amounts of money over time. Find more ways to save big in our savings challenge eBook.

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Social

Social

We live in a time in which it is very easy to connect with family and friends, no matter where you are. This is a gift and a curse. While the ability to connect with people instantaneously is convenient, it also makes it that much easier to make plans and break them with little consequence. Avoid making a lot of “maybe” plans and aim for sure plans with fewer people. Think quality over quantity. You will gain so much more from friends when you invest quality time with them compared to making many plans out of obligation that you hold little interest in.

Whenever you set aside time for others, set aside some time for yourself. This “me” time may seem the opposite of social, but without the time to decompress from work and relationships, you will only add clutter to other aspects of your life. Say no to non-essential plans if you need to!

Don’t be afraid to share your new social simplifying strategy with those you are closest to. Explain to them what your goals are so they don’t get confused about your intentions. This social spring cleaning is meant to help you find the balance that will make you the best person you can be while also being a great friend.

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Computer

Computer

So much of our lives are stored away on a computer. Albums of pictures are mixed amongst old resumes, all alongside a sprawling music library. It may seem like a high mountain to climb, but there are some simple shortcuts to help you clear up that space.

First, open Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows) to view all your personal files. Now you can see which files are taking up the largest chunks of your hard drive memory. Many of these files are likely slowing down your computer and should be deleted if possible. If you want to save them, consider uploading the file to a cloud service like Dropbox. Not only does Dropbox free up space on your computer, it protects your files in case your computer crashes and allows you to access your files anywhere on any device.

After you tackle your desktop, clean up your online footprint. Clear up your Facebook newsfeed by hiding all the stories that don’t hold your interest or don’t add any value to your life. Your social space should be a positive experience, so minimize the noise. Go through the accounts you follow on Twitter and Instagram and eliminate the ones that don’t bring you joy. Social media is meant for communication in a fun setting, not negativity. Your email account is another great place to purge. Try Unroll.Me, a site that helps you pick and choose email lists you want to unsubscribe from. Once you get the junk out, consider sorting your remaining emails into folders. To keep things organized, set up email filters so new messages drop automatically into those folders.

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Work

Work

Decluttering your work life can be a challenge with so many daily tasks and obligations that you simply can’t avoid. In this area, focus on making the most of your time.

Take a look at your schedule for the week. How many of those meetings are necessary? The average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings.3 Many times, it is much more efficient to visit a co-worker at their desk and chat about an issue or project straight away, rather than waiting to set up a formal meeting. If a meeting is unavoidable, invite those who are crucial to getting a task done and no one else. Come prepared so that the meeting attendees stay engaged.

Work smart, not hard. Psychologists have found that multitasking can result in lost time, productivity and efficiency.4 Instead, make a habit of committing to a single task before moving on to your next project.

Use tools to stay organized and on top of your deadlines. Apps like Evernote can be used to take notes in meetings, outline tasks or even discuss new projects with fellow Evernote users at work. If time seems to be slipping away from you and you’re not sure where it goes, try out Rescue Time. This app logs your activity in the background of your computer so you get a comprehensive look at how your time was spent throughout the day.

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Car

Car

Your car can collect clutter, especially if you spend a lot of time commuting. Regularly clean out garbage and any out-of-season tools like ice scrapers.

Put your registration and insurance together in an envelope. Keep it some place that is far from spills and easy to get to (like your glove box). Keep an umbrella handy for those unexpected storms. Invest in a hands free device. Not only will it help keep your focus on the road, many cities have very strict cell phone laws that forbid the use of mobile devices while driving.

Keep safety items in the trunk. At minimum, you should have a spare tire, an emergency kit and a blanket. Build your own emergency car kit or buy one from your local auto store or online.

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It’s time to spring into action and make positive changes to your life outside of traditional spring cleaning. Take the time to declutter the major areas of your life and find yourself less stressed, organized and more.

References

1 Beres, D. (November 30, 2015). Reading on a screen before bed might be killing you. Retrieved February 02, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/23/reading-before-bed_n_6372828.html

2 DiGangi, C. (August 03, 2015). 80% of Americans are in debt. Retrieved February 01, 2016, from http://blog.credit.com/2015/08/80-of-americans-are-in-debt-122255/

3 Anderson, R. (August, 2012). You waste a lot of time at work infographic. Retrieved February 01, 2016, from https://www.atlassian.com/time-wasting-at-work-infographic

4 Multitasking: switching costs. (March 6, 2006). Retrieved February 01, 2016, from http://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask.aspx

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About 

Babs is a content writer at Enova International, Inc. with a Bachelors in Cinema Studies and English from the University of Illinois (ILL-INI!). She loves binge watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos! Find out more about her on Google+.

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