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How to declutter

If you’re drowning in clutter and not sure where to begin, these tips from bestselling author and clutter-clearing expert Karen Kingston might help. Like learning anything else in the world, how to declutter is a skill that you can develop. The more of it you do, the more proficient you become and the easier it gets, but when you first begin you can feel like a clutter-clearing weakling.


Without doubt, people find that the hardest part to clearing clutter is overcoming their inertia enough to get started. Once they have begun, the process itself releases more energy to continue. All the stagnant energy that is locked up in the clutter gets released for you to use in more positive ways. And the more you clear clutter, the easier it becomes because you know how good it feels after you have done it and you know the positive benefits that follow.

If you’re struggling to get started, here are seven tried and tested tips for effective clutter clearing:

  1. Discover Your Most Effective Clutter Clearing Time of Day
    Most people find they have favourite times of day for clutter clearing. Some people prefer the morning. Others like to clutter clear through the night. Discover when you are at your most decisive and do your clearing then.
  2. Schedule Clutter Clearing
    Decide now when you will begin and schedule it on your calendar, as you would any other activity. Make a date with yourself to do it and show up. It can be a whole day, a half day, or a series of appointments of just an hour or half an hour, depending on how fast you want to progress.
  3. Time-box Each Task
    It’s a well known fact that all jobs expand to fill their allotted time limit, so if you tell yourself you will declutter your stuff until it’s finished, don’t be surprised if it takes forever. Time-box each job. Break each task down into chunks, decide how long it will take you to complete each one, and then set your timer. Work against the clock to do each chunk within the time box you have set yourself.  You can also use this technique to accomplish other types of tasks. For example, if you are doing a job at your computer, there are some great timer software programmes you can use. If you’re the kind of person who procrastinates because you love the adrenalin rush of getting something done just in time for a deadline, you’ll adore time-boxing. This way you won’t have to wait for a big deadline but will be able to get your fix many times a day. However, I have to warn you that with practice you’ll be able to time-box yourself without a clock, and will routinely start getting jobs done on time. So only use this technique if the rest of your life is interesting enough not to need adrenalin highs (your kidneys will thank you for this and serve you longer because of it).
  4. Play Upbeat Music
    Use external speakers (not headphones) and set the volume loud enough to make your body feel like dancing. For best results, set your player to automatic repeat so that it just keeps going. Most people are able to clutter clear for two to three times longer if they have the right music playing. Avoid albums that have alternating fast and slow music – the ballads will cause you to lose momentum. If you have a lot of clutter to clear it would be a good investment of your time to make your own music compilation especially for this purpose. But don’t let doing this be yet another delay to making a start!
  5. Wear Something Red
    Just as red dancing shoes make your feet feel like moving, wearing red clothes make you feel like taking action. If you don’t have anything red, then wear colours from the warm end of the spectrum (orange, yellow, etc) rather than cool colours such as blue. Many people keep clutter as a way of comforting themselves. Warm colours are more emotionally comforting than cold ones, so if you wear colours from the warm end of the spectrum while sorting through your stuff, you’ll find it easier to let things go.
  6. Don’t Wear Black or Grey
    Black attracts low-level vibrations and will quickly make you feel tired when clutter clearing. Grey is also not a good colour to wear because it will cause you to be indecisive about what stays and what goes.
  7. Reward Yourself for a Job Well Done
    It’s human nature to seek gratification, so if you reward yourself in some way after you’ve clutter cleared, part of you remembers this and is more inclined to want to do it again in the future.