How to declutter your life and stay organized
Why to declutter your life?
Looking back over the past years my life was a mess and my apartment was a mirror of a garbage dump.
A pile of books in one corner, my laptop bag on the floor, an electric guitar which I have bought a few years ago but I have only plugged in once, my dust covered music albums on my desk which reminded me that I didn’t even own a cd player where to listen to them.
I had a digital camera I’ve bought few years ago but never used, I had a video-game on which I’ve spent hours in a queue still unpacked after years.
If you’ll ever ask me which is the best camera for taking pictures I will probably tell you that the best camera is that you are carrying with you wherever you go which is more probably to be your phone, not your reflex. Then why would you buy a reflex anyway?
I had a pile of outdated tech magazines, lots of bills, receipts and clothes I’d buy but never wear. I’ve accumulated all those things during the past years without realizing that I don’t need them actually but everything had to come to an end.
Last week I’ve moved into a fifth-floor apartment with no lift and I decided to implement a new organizational system to prevent my future self in getting back to the same situation. I’ll go through my possessions and give away stuff I no longer use then I will create a simple buying process diagram which will help me decide if a new gadget needs my attention.
How to declutter your life? (3 step strategy)
Declutter your life Step1. (Not owning more than 150 tangibles books excluded).
For this purpose, you need to create a spreadsheet in which you will divide items by categories and make sure the total numbers of items from all categories does not exceed 150. Since I’m still moving from one place to another this step isn’t completed yet. Follow up my progress here.
Declutter your life Step 2 (Defining what to hold and what to give away guilt free and do it)
Because of limits given to the first step, you must decide here what exactly to hold and what to give away.
So here is how I do:
To get rid of the unnecessary tangibles I’m trying answering the following questions for each item I need to let go
- How much I’m using this item?
- Can it be replaced by something else?
- Is it really a necessity?
- Can it be digitized?
- It makes me productive?
- Does It change my life someway in a week? In a month?
- How many times was used in a year?
- Giving it away will make me happier?
- Will this item help someone else more than it helps me?
Keep also in mind that being generous not only helps the other person but makes you happier and healthier.
Declutter your life Step 3. (Create a process which stops you buying unnecessary things.)
Decluttering is a good point to start when you need to simplify but this will also give you the reason to buy more once you have approached simplicity since you will think “Okay, now that I have decluttered my house I can buy this item and so on” .
Here is Russ Roberts on buying things in the modern world:
My iPhone gives me a lot of more satisfaction than my first cell phone gave me. And nearly more infinite delight. That’s not surprising. What’s surprising is how much I want the newer one when I now that many or most of its features really aren’t that much better than what I have now. But I want them anyway.
This is life in the modern world. Within weeks or months of having the latest, coolest, most beautiful device, it’s out of date. The device that made your hearth sing just a few months ago now looks like an antique. I want the new one, the faster one, the thinner one. But one I get it, does anything change?
As you may get the point, we use to buy on emotion and then justify with logic. Here is how you can turn of the temptation and create a more rational process used to buy a new item.
I’ve created the following buying decision system to evaluate the situation and decide whenever you need to buy a new gadget.
Before buying something ask yourself:
- Do I have something that performs this task already?
- Am I replacing an item just because a new version was released?
- Will it make me happy after a week?
- Will it improve at least 1% of my productivity after a week?
- Wait for a week then come back again through this list and ask yourself: Do I really need it now?
- Buy only if it’s necessary.
The benefits for reducing your material needs may depend on your perspective, sort of how you look at this. Here is one more opinion in minimalism from Charly Munger:
Most people will see declining returns [due to inflation]. One of the great defenses if you’re worried about inflation is not to have a lot of silly needs in your life — you don’t need a lot of material goods.
How do you declutter your life? What’s your strategy to keep things organized and avoid buying things you don’t need ?