How to declutter your house, work and life

by Sylvia

How to declutter your house, work and life | 40plusstyle.com

I’m a big believer in decluttering.

I believe that a clear, uncluttered house frees your mind and makes you more productive. You know where everything is and see things clearer. It will be easier to dress as your cupboards are full of things you love and you know where to find it all.

As I think a decluttering process may be useful for many of you too, I thought I share my experience with you.

My house has always been quite minimalist and I like to keep things in their place and my desk clean.

However, as I got too busy, things started to clutter. As a result even less stuff got done and I constantly felt overwhelmed.

As I needed to move house and found a smaller house, decluttering action was in order. Rather than let the movers pack everything, my family decided to do it ourselves instead. This was a great opportunity to go through everything that was in the house and to decide if it needed to move with me or exit my life.

Decluttering is not just about getting rid of stuff though, it’s also about getting all aspects of your life organised. One major online free tool I have been using to do that is Evernote. It’s a simple programme that has a lot more tools than you initially think. This book will get you started using it like a pro: Master Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Organizing Your Life with Evernote (Plus 75 Ideas for Getting Started)

Here is what I have been doing:

Decluttering my work

  • Got all to-do tasks out of my mail client and either done or into Evernote. I reach inbox 0 every week.
  • Organised the more than 200 drafts that were sitting in my website’s backend and getting them organised in schedules within Evernote.
  • Made sure that my site has a clear navigation and that everything is stored in its correct category.
  • Updated lists like my 40+bloggers community and adding an extra list from all top bloggers featured on my site (now more than 500 bloggers! Go check them out)
  • Built my new computer from scratch (and not automatically copying my old computer) so I only get into my computer what I need and use.
  • Stored lots of stuff in the cloud.

gettingridofstuff

Decluttering my house

  • Got rid of all my magazines. I flipped through each of them and everything that I felt was inspirational or useful I clipped into Evernote. (hardly anything really).
  • Got rid of lots of books.
  • Only kept documents that I need tangible copies off. Everything else was photographed and stored into Evernote.
  • Only kept the best of the best of sentimental keepsakes.
  • Got rid of lots of old archives, collages, receipts etc. Everything that I thought I may need was scanned with Evernote.
  • Went through my closets and asked myself if the clothes and accessories that are in it bring me joy? Do they fit and do they make me happy or are extremely useful? If the the answer was no, the clothes were donated.
  • My son is now a teenager so we got rid of lots of toys from his childhood.
  • Looked at furniture, utensils etc and asked these same questions as above. Kept only the things that add joy or provide lots of value based on the KonMari method from the popular book by Marie Kondo. I got rid of quite a few storage solutions like drawer sets. Even though they could be useful for the new house as we may need the extra storage, they were ugly so no good to hang on to. If I really needed that extra storage, I could always buy something new that I would love.

The decluttering journey and how the world has changed

Decluttering is quite a journey. It’s like going back in time. As you start browsing through all your old things, it takes you back to all the schools you have been to, all courses you have taken and the assignments you did, all the countries and places you have lived in. It’s tempting to hold on to a lot of it, but it’s better to let go. Just limit yourself to a few key pieces.

I also realised that so much has changed in the world. I used to keep large folders of everything that inspired me. From fashion to interior design, to color patterns and prints. I also had lots of dictionaries and encyclopaedias on all kinds of topics. The Internet has replaced all of these.

I now keep track of everything that inspires me in Pinterest. I take notes and scan documents of everything else that comes my way in Evernote. Music and books are now bought and stored digitally.

So many of my things have left the house and only the objects that make me happy or add value were kept.

I feel light and fresh now and everything fitted into the new house with room to spare!

I will show you more about the creative storage solutions I used in my new house next week.

For now, I love to hear about your uncluttering journeys. Are you well organised or could you do with some decluttering action too?

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 denton

This is great and why I love moving! Moving gives you the opportunity to ask yourself if you really need it. The last time we moved I scanned in the hundreds of recipe clippings I had lying around and now have a massive searchable pdf cookbook. Just a minor example.

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2 Lisa M

Great idea. I need to do that with my recipes.

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3 Sylvia

That’s great. I love how many documents are now in Evernote and easy searchable!

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4 Jill

It is an on going process for me, as I usually purge three to four times a year. I give away the things that no longer serve me and cherish the things I hold on to. My mantra is “LESS IS BEST AND MORE IS A CHORE”. I am slowly downsizing my bead stash and I’m going to trade hobbies, from beading to playing the guitar! Less clutter for sure! It is a fun journey, and always an adventure.

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5 Sylvia

Believe me it’s an ongoing process for me too! Especially when it comes to wardrobe and accessories which is my weak spot. More on that next week!

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6 Elaine

I am part of the way through decluttering my home using Marie Kondo’s book. My closet and clothes are vastly improved and I will continue to maintain this area because it makes me feel good. My next challenge for this fall is the sentimental keepsake category. That will be a hard one! Did I mention that I’m only working on my things? Husband has yet to tackle his stuff but Marie indicates that this may come in time.

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7 Lisa M

My husband is definitely a keeper — he keeps everything. His reasoning (as a history major) is that odd documents can be interesting to future generations and this is history.

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8 Elaine

Historical value is a good reason to keep things. My “keeper” husband thinks he might need the stuff someday.

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9 Lisa

But he thinks everything is a potential historical document.

None of us is famous. Nobody will want this. Plus, as I point out, if he dies first it will all get trashed. Why not trash it now?

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10 Sylvia

Although that may be true, how often do you look at old school notes your parents kept for you? In my opinion it would be best to only keep the best of the best which should be no more than 1 box. If you use the reasoning of ‘historical value’ you can hold on to a LOT of things as you can argue that almost anything will become ‘historical’ (think of old type writers, albums, old radios etc.) but you end up with a lot of ‘stuff’ that will not have any value for at least 20 years. Not sure if that is worth it.

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11 Sylvia

I’m lucky that my husband does not feel the need to hold on to anything. I actually have to stop him sometimes…

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12 Elaine

When I get to my sentimental and personal items my goal is to keep only one box. Meanwhile I’m hopeful that my husband will catch the bug and start on his things. I offered to help him with his closet. We will see how that goes!

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13 Suzanne

Thanks for this. Fall is the perfect time to declutter . I am getting Ms. Kondo’s book and starting the declutter process!

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14 Sylvia

Good luck!

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15 Patti

Great post – I have used, and continued to use the KonMari method in my closet. xo

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16 Sylvia

For me the wardrobe is still the most difficult part…

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17 Jenith

I love owing less. So much easier to clean my home. It’s still a work in progress. . I’m reading lots of websites of the mimimalist movement . Small changes…the sock drawer folding was a big hit with my husbsnd .

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18 Sylvia

I will share some of my solutions for clothes and accessories next week!

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19 Lisa M

I did a major decluttering about 5 years ago before I went to graduate school. I seriously believe getting rid of old knickknacks was a necessary part of getting down to business with school because it freed my mind. But I must admit, that things have accumulated since that major decluttering. It’s not as bad as it was — you can’t accumulate as much in 5 years as you did in 15 — but there is work to do. One of my big problems is that I am an artist. Art supplies accumulate and while I can organize them, I’m slow to get rid of them because they are expensive and you really do need some of them at a later date.

We will be moving at the end of the year and it is my goal to get rid of everything, everything that isn’t essential to life right now. Our new home will be a bit bigger, but I want to enter it with Zen-like minimalist intentions. One of my plans with my wardrobe is to buy a set number of really nice hangers, and really nice shoe boxes and then absolutely limit myself to that number of clothing items. (Wish me luck!)

You are absolutely right about digital clutter. My in-box has not seen 0 for awhile. That also needs to change.

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20 Sylvia

Good luck on move! I want to get hangers in one color too and wardrobe organising is still an ongoing challenge!

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21 Lorraine

Phew! I can only say ‘respect’ to you Sylvia. I seem to be incapable of getting rid of stuff. I feel like I need to get somebody to help me, which is ridiculous. I am going to look at Ever note and see if I could benefit as paper is my worst issue.

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22 Sylvia

I think Evernote could definitely benefit you. I hardly have any documents left, apart from some special projects and major milestones of my son. Just think about how often you look at those docs. Do they really bring you joy? I know I never looked at mine and they were just taking up space.

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23 Elbe

Do you have a tutorial about using Evernote? I downloaded it once but didn’t really figure out how to use it.

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24 Sylvia

Hi Elbe, No sorry I don’t have a tutorial but I found this book very useful in learning how to use this tool more effectively. Master Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Organizing Your Life with Evernote (Plus 75 Ideas for Getting Started)

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25 Elbe

Thanks! It is officially on my list of books to read.

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26 denton

Lynda.com has some good tutorials, if you are a subscriber

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27 Carmen

It’s spring time in Australia, so this is the perfect piece to get me re-inspired to clear out some more junk. But I find it hard to part with surplus handbags (so am dealing with this by concealing them in hatboxes …is that ok? In any case, thanks so much for posting this. Always love reading your website.

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28 Sylvia

You can do whatever works for you, but I personally am not a big fan of ‘concealing’ wardrobe items as you will never wear the things that you don’t see. And if you never use or wear them, then it’s best to get those items out of your life. I admit that I have quite a few handbags myself and I will show you how I store them next week.

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29 Diane McKinnon

I enjoyed reading this post

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30 Sylvia

Great to read Diane!

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31 Greetje

I would love to do what you do. But I just haven’t got the time. It sounds so good. I applaud you and deeply respect you. This is such a good quality of you: if you put your mind on something, it will get done. And in the best possible way.

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32 Sylvia

I think you already do a very good job with your house though, especially in the living room!

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33 Anja

I’m always decluttering something, but I have not yet reached the point of catching up. There’s still a lot to be decluttered. All in due time.

My computer crashed about a month ago, so that did sort of declutter itself ;-). I lost everything. Although I have partial back ups, not well organized though. It’s on my declutter-organize-to-do-list for sure.

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