Life is hectic. You need to do everything possible to simplify where you can.
Every July Meredith the Mentor gets serious about de-cluttering. She sets one task for every day of the month in order to get seriously organised and start the new Financial Year fresh.
We asked her to consult her list of de-cluttering tips she provided this time last year, and update what she’ll be changing as she gets started on clearing out the mess from 1 July.
It all starts with identifying the clutter — in your office, home, handbag, bank account, and in your own head — and cleaning it up. Then complete one task every day in July that declutters a different aspect of your house, office and house.
1. Clear out the CDs. You’re not actually still listening to CDs are you? They’re nothing but clutter causing, space sucking bits of obsolete junk. Time to get on a streaming service like Spotify, Pandora or the new Apple Music, and take the old CDs over to Officeworks, which will recycle them for you.
2. Chuck out/donate some clothes. I know, the high school formal dress looked great on you back in the 1990s. But it’s a few decades later, it’s never going to fit again, and it’s time to move on. Do a big sweep of the clothes in your wardrobe (or on the floor), throw out anything that simply cannot be worn again, and donate whatever you personally won’t be putting on again. Good places to donate include the Smith Family, Fitted for Work and Dress for Success.
3. Clean up the bathroom cabinets. Have you got empty bottles of various substances in your bathroom you no longer use? Perhaps a number of shampoo bottles on the shower floor, bits and pieces of makeup you thought were a good idea? It’s time to let it all go. Grab a big garbage bag and get rid of it all in one sweep. This is a five minute job. Simple. But one many of us can put off for years.
4. Donate some toys. Here’s where you get the little ones involved. Ask them to identify at least three toys each they’d like to pass on to a kid who really wants them. Ask them why it’s special and how it’s new owner may enjoy it, and have them help you package them up, ready for donation. You’ll find good toy donation options here.
5. Sort the linen press. This is a great task for a cold July weekend, it’ll take a little longer than some of the other items on this list. Sorting the linen press or cupboard is a comprehensive process as you pull out items like sheets, towels and facecloths, and refold and resort them into an organised collection. The goal here is to make your new look closet sustainable.
6. Check in on you super account. How did it perform last financial year, how will it support your retirement? Time to rethink where you’re investing your super? If you need to streamline many different super accounts into one, check out this ‘how to’ process.
7. Research your bank accounts. Filter through the automatic payments appearing on your bank statements. Anything there look a little random, or that you know you could go without? A monthly $10 fee here, some form of membership there. Identify at least one such fee that can stop and take the time to cancel it.
8. Consider your life insurance. Do you have life insurance? If you’ve got kids or dependents it’s definitely something to consider. Alternatively, are you paying too much for life insurance, does your policy match your current situation?
9. Clean up the office desk drawers. Most people tend to leave this until their last day in a job, meaning they never actually get to enjoy nice, tidy and organised drawers. Arrive at work a good ten minutes early and get the drawers cleaned out. It’ll feel like you’re starting a new job.
10. Delete/remove files from the desktop. Has your computer desktop become as cluttered as your kids toy room? Spend five minute moving items into new folders and your laptop will look as good as new. This is also a great opportunity to update that background image and screensaver.
11. Delete unused apps. Some phone and iPad apps seem like a great idea, until you test them out and find they’re useless. The problem is these apps tend to stick around, cluttering up your device and draining your battery. Take some time to sort through your phone and delete whatever you no longer use. Now’s also a good time to go into your settings and update any apps that need a refresh.
12. Do a Facebook de-friend. Everybody’s got a bunch of Facebook ‘friends’ who do nothing but clutter their feed. Time to delete them. You’ll feel powerful, tidy and organised all at once.
12. Create Twitter lists. If you’re on Twitter, you’ll know how easy it is to get overloaded with information when you’re just trying to check the morning news. Create a ‘Simple Feed’ list, one that includes your most important and informative follows — even just 10 or 20 people. This will enable you to dip in for a minute or two to quickly scan what’s going on without getting caught up in a debate about the end of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s marriage.
13. Remove the negativity. Ok, you could read many, many articles and posts on eliminating the negativity in your own head that will offer much better advice than this short paragraph. But seriously, is there one thing you keep telling yourself every day that’s hurting your self esteem? I’m too fat, too slow, too pale, too unproductive, too timid, too loud, etc? Identify it and make yourself stop.
14. Get a haircut. Book an appointment and go and enjoy a great haircut. A decluttering tip you can outsource to somebody else!
15. Get the kids haircuts. Again, an affordable activity that can be outsourced! Tame that crazy hair and get some instantly neat looking children.
16. Sort out the handbag. This is another one of those two minute jobs that gets put off constantly. Sort that handbag, and develop a personal system that keeps it sorted. Yes, that may mean sorting it daily.
17. And those receipts and cards in the wallet. If your wallet looks a little pregnant, some serious sorting is in order. Get rid of the receipts (or store them somewhere for access later) and remove any useless ‘VIP cards’. Any store that has your membership details can simply look you up on their system, without having to check the VIP card.
18. Clear up the magazine, mail and paper items. Get a large bag and sort through your paper-based materials for what’s needed and what’s not. A good tips is to photograph anything you might want to reference later and store it on your phone or computer. Paper just gets in the way of life.
19. Clear out the pantry. Again, get a large rubbish bin and remove any expired foods or items you no longer need and throw them out. Leave the remaining items on the kitchen bench, wipe down the shelves, and re-stock the pantry.
20. Clean your car. Remove the unwanted junk from your car, pull up a vacuum cleaner and tidy it up. Better yet, drop into a car wash centre and pay somebody else to do it while you grab a coffee.
21. Get some clarity. Now for some mental decluttering. Time to check in with your yearly goals and ambitions and consider how you’re tracking — if you don’t yet have any goals, then this is a great opportunity to create some.
22. Refresh the resume. Even if you’re not actively job hunting, you should still make time to update your resume. It’s an excellent exercise for remembering just what you’ve achieved in your current role and where the experience may take you. An updated CV is also extremely handy when jobs you’re interested in come up.
23. Update the LinkedIn profile. This should be updated every three months. Get started on setting the routine now. Include any recent goals, achievements and articles, refresh your language and think about any endorsements you might be able get from relevant contacts.
24. Update your headshots. This will require an investment in time and money but it’s well worth it. Your social media accounts, as well as any blogs, bios or other items that mention you online, should look professional. A great selection of headshots are invaluable, and will last a couple of years.
25. Google yourself. What kind of clutter is coming up about you online? Which social media accounts appear first and what do their bios say about who you are? Any new employer or client will no doubt be Googling you at some stage during the recruitment process. Consider what the first page of results says about you, and what kind of privacy settings may be required to keep unwanted attention out of your social media accounts.
26. Sort out subscriptions. We’re being asked to join more and more subscription services online, these may seem like small and cheap monthly fees but such fees add up. Sort through these subscriptions and remove anything you haven’t used in the last three months.
27. Sort out the inbox. This will take a good few hours and will require expert advice I can’t provide in one short article. Check out this excellent approach for getting thousands of emails down to zero.
28. Unsubscribe from newsletter and other update emails. These clog your inbox every day and if you’re not reading them, then they’re not needed. Go through and systematically unsubscribe to any unwanted mailing lists. Just make sure you’re still receiving Women’s Agenda of course.
29. Book a holiday. Many of us don’t take holidays because we never get around to actually booking them. Take some time out to plan that next trip, schedule the annual leave and get your flights and accommodation locked in so you can’t pull out when you later decide you’re too busy and important to take a break.
30. Schedule an exercise routine. You can simplify exercise but sadly you can’t make it easier. Identify when you have time for 30 minutes a few times a week and lock it in the diary. Make those days ‘exercise days’ where you make the time and effort no matter what.
31. Read a book. When it all gets too much, sit down and enjoy some reading time. Books offer an escape from the physical and mental clutter of daily life and let you fantasise about something else, for a period.
Any declutter tips you’d include on the list? Let us know below.