There are tons of books and magazine articles related to downsizing and productivity.

Many people reading this blog might be familiar with the works of popular authors on dealing with clutter, such as titles by Peter Walsh, or:

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
  • Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morganstern
  • Conquering Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kohlberg

So, if you have all these books on your shelf, among many others, why do you still feel stuck in ‘overwhelm?’ Glad I asked that question, right? Well, I will try to help you with some simple guidelines to conquering clutter. That said, you can gain great insight reading through the organizing books listed above.

Of course, at some point, you need to put great ideas into action. What is your action plan? I think this is where it all breaks down for a lot of folks. Pen in hand, goals on paper, follow through – voila! Magic can happen.

  1. What are Your Goals? Everyone has a unique situation. Sit down and think about the most important aspects (zones) impacting the way you live. Jot down some ideas of what needs to happen in those zones so that you can live a simpler, less cluttered life.
  2. Articulate the Tasks. Once you have an idea of those goals, it is time to break them down into manageable tasks. You can have the highest aspirations in the world, but if you do not articulate them and define how you will attain those life projects, you will simply have visions dancing around in your head.
  3. Write it Down. There is current literature that suggests people who write things versus inputting on a computer, are better able to retain information. For more on this theory, listen to NPR’s Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away. The recording hypothesizes that when you take the time to really think about your goals and write them down, chances are you will remember them better than if you type them out. At any rate, writing them down or inputting them into a word document will serve you much better than just having thoughts muddled in that amazing brain that sits on the top of your head.
  4. Follow Through. So, you take my advice and write down your goals along with your manageable The follow through is the glue that holds it all together. What this means is, you’re actually doing the work to accomplish your goals.
  5. Use Your Calendar. Block time wisely for the “Must Do’s” using your calendar. You can color code to prioritize or identify by category. As you think about your goals and tasks, consider when the best time of the day and day of the week is to make that specific action happen. The follow through can only be successful if you honor the scheduled appointments in your calendar. Be careful not to clutter your system with too many agenda items! Three major priorities for one day is the maximum allowed if you want to accomplish anything.
  6. What’s Your Motivation? Here is the crucial question you must ask and answer if you expect this plan to work. Why do you have the goals you defined in the first place, why did you decide on the tasks you assigned for each goal, why do you want to follow through on these tasks? The ‘why’ gives you the answer to attaining a simpler life. If you do not want the simpler life, this guideline is just an exercise in futility.

Fundamentally, you need to assess whether you want a less cluttered life. If you do, the suggestions above should act as a helpful guide for you to make your dreams into a reality.