Digital Declutter: Clearing Your Digital Space

digital declutter

We all know that a cleaner, clearer home or work space contributes to a clearer mind.

We declutter and clear our physical spaces to make room for the things that are most important to us.

Your digital space is your presence in the digital world: social media accounts, email inboxes, websites and blogs. How many emails are currently sitting in your inbox? How many social media pages do you follow? What is clogging up your newsfeed? How many websites and blogs have you subscribed to?

Your digital space can be clogged up with noise that creates and contributes to your overall busyness and the only way to unclog the space is by removing what isn’t important to you.

I’ll admit that the last time I performed a digital declutter, it took me almost a week. I had to sift through over 2000 emails! It was a very long process, but worthwhile.

Here are some of the ways that you can tackle a digital declutter.

Digital Declutter: How To Clear Your Digital Space

 

Email subscriptions

Have you subscribed to blogs, websites or services and have never even opened the messages or newsletters you’ve received? This is a sign that whatever that person is trying to sell to you or the message they are trying to deliver to you is not important.

But before deleting their email, UNSUBSCRIBE from their service. This will ensure that you stop receiving communication from them. As I outlined in my strategies for less paper clutter, you have to prevent the clutter from entering rather than just getting rid of it. A successful digital declutter stops the clutter from re-entering your digital space.

Don’t feel guilty about this. You are not doing yourself a favour by receiving digital junk mail, and you are not doing the other person or business a favour by wasting their time and effort sending you communication that you are not interested in.

 

Email Inbox

Some of your emails will be important and worth holding onto. For these emails, it’s a great idea to create separate folders and to file the emails into the relevant folder.

Emails that are no longer needed should be deleted. I suggest starting from the oldest email in your inbox, because chances are that the older emails will no longer be required. It should be easier to sift through these.

Be honest with yourself- remove the “just in case” mentality many people have. As I have previously mentioned, one of the many mistakes people make when decluttering is holding onto something they think they need when in fact they don’t need it.

I recommend spending no longer than ten minutes on this process at any one time. This is one of those tasks you will have to return to a few times before you have your inbox under control.

 

Facebook Pages

Social media decluttering can be a difficult and controversial process. You’ve heard of people “unfriending” others which has led to arguments and awkward confrontations.

But when it comes to blogs and websites that no longer serve you, unliking their Facebook page removes their “noise” from your newsfeed, so that you can make room for status updates and information from people and businesses that can serve your needs.

Similar to email subscriptions, businesses and blogs want to reach out to as many people as possible however an authentic business or blog will want to reach those people who they will serve the most. As a blogger, I can only serve those who are interested in leading a less busy life, and these are the people I want to “like” my Facebook page. If I no longer serve you and you need to “unlike” me, then as much as it might make my little ego feel sad, I will understand that my services are not for you. And that’s totally ok!

 

Digital Decluttering For Bloggers

If you are a fellow blogger, then there are a number of ways that you can declutter your blog’s digital space.

Analyse your blog’s current social media presence. Are there any social mediums that are not doing so well for you that you could perhaps delete?

Are there any affiliate programs or advertising networks that are not generating an income for you that you could remove from your blog?

Are you part of any blogging Facebook groups that are not helping you with your blog journey that you could remove yourself from?

By decluttering your blog’s digital space, you are making more room for creativity and abundance. You are able to focus on creating more abundance for your blog through new income initiatives.

Removing noise from your blog will also improve your reader’s experiences. Have you ever been annoyed or distracted by annoying and irrelevant advertisements on a blog you are visiting?

 

You can make more room in your digital space for the things that are important, by focusing on the digital decluttering strategies I have listed. You can start off small and slow, and focus on decluttering bit by bit over time rather than trying to tackle it all overnight.

Have you decluttered your digital space? What was the most challenging part of the declutter? How  many emails are sitting in your inbox?

When I Had To Own That Red Display Cabinet

I used to be a fan of the hit NBC series “Parenthood”.

Even though TV is mostly trashy, I enjoyed the Parenthood storylines.  I also loved admiring the different homes/sets for each of the Braverman families. I loved looking at the décor and the furniture, and I loved how each set reflected the personality of the family.

But one thing I couldn’t get my mind off was a set of red bar stools and a display cabinet that featured in one of the Parenthood homes. I loved the colour, and I just damn wanted it for my home!

 

Parenthood Display Cabinet

Image of “that red display cabinet” from Parenthood, from Hooked On Houses

Being Fixated With Stuff

So I began a mission which lasted about 10 months, of looking for something similar here in Australia. Getting the bar stools and cabinet shipped from the U.S. was out of the question due to the cost of freight being more than the cost of the items!

But then one day it dawned on me: what would I put in the display cabinet? I didn’t have anything exotic or precious that was worth displaying in such a nice cabinet. I didn’t want to store my every day dishes in there because I already had a place for those.

I finally admitted to myself that I didn’t really need the display cabinet.

I felt a bit sad at this realisation. How ridiculous, yeah? I had become fixated with something, not because I truly needed it but because I felt excited by the challenge of trying to find the item I was after. It was the thrill of the consumer chase.

If I did end up finding and buying the cabinet, I bet I would have been disappointed a few weeks later. I bet I would have thought to myself, “Now what? So I have this display cabinet, but it hasn’t made me any happier than I was months ago”.

And that, folks, is the consumer cycle that so many of us find ourselves trapped in.

Wanting something, convincing ourselves that we need it, buying it and then moving onto the next thing we want or need. It is one of the mistakes people so often make when decluttering, as I outlined HERE.

We are fixated with stuff.

But our fixation doesn’t end after the purchase. We have to look after the item, and sometimes insure it against theft or damage. We have to find a place to store the item. After the life of the item has ended, we have to find a way to dispose of the item.

We become so fixated with stuff that we find it hard to let go. We find it difficult to get rid of some of the stuff we own- we might have an emotional connection to the item. Or we might be too afraid to get rid of the item because we think our lives will be less fulfilling if the item isn’t around.

 

Fixated with stuff

 

But the great news is that we can break ourselves from the consumer cycle and stop being so fixated with stuff. We don’t have to feel trapped anymore.

I believe it is the number one reason why decluttering does not work for many people. Months after decluttering, they find themselves back at square one- a house full of crap that once again, needs to be decluttered.

You might be asking yourself, how can you break out of the consumer cycle?

Becoming less fixated with stuff is something that does not happen overnight- it’s a process that can take months or years to refine. But the process begins with recognising what your current habits are and your attitude to stuff. Think about how and why you shop, and how you treat your belongings.

Becoming less fixated with stuff will allow you to develop some new healthy habits that will lead to living a simplified and less busy life. Some of the habits to acquire for a more simplified life can be found HERE.

Do you buy something and then forget about it? Do you cherish what you have bought? Are there any underlying emotions or triggers leading you to acquire more stuff?

Do you have a picture in your mind of what you want your life to look like, and so you shop and acquire stuff that will help your life become what you imagined it to be?

If someone offers you something for free, do you accept it because you really need it or is the fact that the item is free exciting to you? Do you accept the item out of guilt or obligation?

Have you ever admired a product in a store but not felt the need to buy it? Or do you immediately need to own everything you admire?

Do you worry about what might happen to you if you didn’t own that particular item? Do you often find yourself thinking “what if I need it and I can’t find it?” or do you have a “just in case” thought process?

Thinking about and analysing your current attitudes to buying and owning stuff can be a real eye opener! Don’t feel angry towards yourself for your current situation, and try not to feel guilty if what you discover about your behaviour and attitudes isn’t quite what you were hoping for.

Even those of us who think we are not victims of consumerism can surprise ourselves when we really stop and think about our last purchase (such as my desire for the red display cabinet)!

 

Now it’s your turn to confess! I’d like to read about a recent purchase you have made, and what your reason for the purchase was? Was it out of necessity or a desire you had to fulfill? Have you ever become fixated with owning something, like I did with the red display cabinet?

Linking up with:

 

I Must Confess

 

Living In Smaller Spaces

Recently, I shocked my 11 year old daughter when I told her that as a kid, I shared a bed with my  younger sister and we ended up sharing a bedroom until I started high school. Having always had her own bedroom, my daughter couldn’t imagine sharing anything with her younger sisters. She has never experienced living in smaller spaces.

We live in a fairly large home- we have four bedrooms and three living areas. The kids each have their own bedrooms and we have an average sized yard for them to run around in. We also have an outdoor entertaining area (that we hardly use).

We have been happily living here for the past 9 years, but it’s only now that I have focused on living an unbusy life, that I must confess that our home is probably a little too big for us.

Is Your Home Too Big For You?

This is a strange thing to confess- many people in our local community are building new homes for their ever-growing families as their current home is deemed too small. By our local community’s standards, our house is of “average” size, in fact some may think our family will outgrow our house once our kids hit their teens.

We recently spent some time holidaying in Europe where I quickly learnt that people can happily live in smaller spaces! My kids were shocked to see how tiny some of the apartments we stayed in were, and that it was perfectly normal for siblings to share a bedroom. It was normal to see a washing machine in the kitchen. Our house in the Netherlands was very compact but had three floors. Our London apartment had a sofa lounge in the living room.

 

living in smaller spaces

 

Benefits Of Living In Smaller Spaces

Believe it or not, there are many benefits to living in smaller spaces even if you do have a family! Some of these benefits come from our recent travel experiences, while others come from the experience of owning a larger home.

I’d like to share these benefits with you:

1. Less stuff: Living in smaller spaces means that you have less room to store your stuff. This provides a great opportunity to learn to live with less stuff (rather than rent storage space) and to make a conscious effort when deciding on what things you need to live with. To read about why I decided to live with less stuff, READ THIS.

2. Strengthened relationships: Going back to my childhood, my sister and I shared a bedroom for many years. Sometimes we craved our own space, but there were so many great benefits that my own children miss out on having their own rooms. Sharing a room meant learning to negotiate space, learning to be more considerate of the needs of others and learning to be more accepting of others. It’s great preparation for when your child moves out of home and into a shared apartment or dorm room at college!

3. Smaller running costs: The cost to run a home is much smaller when you are living in smaller spaces. Living in a large home that has an open-plan design like ours means that gas and electricity bills can be quite high.

4.  More time: Living in smaller spaces with less stuff means spending less time cleaning and stressing about stuff. When you live in a larger home with a larger mortgage and higher running costs, it means having to earn enough income to sustain such a lifestyle. For some people, this may mean working longer hours or in a stressful job. For others it may mean having to work a second or third job. Would you be willing to downsize your lifestyle to create more time for yourself to focus on living a more meaningful, less busy life- maybe spending more time with loved ones? For more inspiration on valuable time you can spend with your loved ones, READ THIS.

5. Valuable lessons: We are our children’s greatest teachers- are you teaching them the best lessons? Living in smaller spaces teaches your children the importance of being able to adapt to one’s environment. When I was growing up, we lived in a really small home but as a kid this never bothered me. We learnt to make do with what we had.  I never once thought “gee this house is way to small for me to play in”. When we say that our kids need more space- do they really need more space or is this something we think they need?

 

Having a large home makes us feel that we need to fill it up with things- bookshelves filled with books (that we may never read), shelves filled with dust-collecting ornaments, living spaces filled with furniture that isn’t really necessary. Stuff, stuff and more stuff!

Not to mention the mortgage that comes with owning such a large house, and the cost of gas, electricity and taxes!

We live in interesting times here in Australia- our population is growing a lot more quickly than we can keep up with. It is becoming more common to see high rise buildings, and if you are wanting to purchase a vacant block of land, the size of vacant land is much smaller than it was 10 years ago.  Growing up in Australia, nearly everyone had a yard large enough to play backyard cricket in!

Although I don’t regret building the house that we did, and at this point in time I don’t want to sell our home and downsize, I do have some advice for people looking to buy their first home (or those thinking of upsizing).

Ask yourself, what is most important to you? Do you wish to chain yourself to an extremely high mortgage that you will work so hard to (hopefully) pay off and in the meantime sacrifice time and money you could have spent enjoying life with your loved ones? Do you really need all that space? Picture yourself living in a smaller space- could you make it work? Are you buying a large house because that is what is expected of you?

Do you live in a home that you think is too big for your family? Do you happily live in a small space with your kids? Did you grow up sharing a bed or bedroom with a sibling? Let me know below!

If you would like more inspiration to live a less busy, more meaningful life, then subscribe HERE to get my posts and occasional newsletter emailed to you.

Linking with:

I Must Confess

 

7 Mistakes People Make When Decluttering

 

So you’ve made the decision to declutter your living space- that’s fantastic! Finding the motivation is the hardest step, but there are still mistakes many people make when decluttering.

I’ve created a list of 7 mistakes people make when decluttering- these are mistakes that I made in the past, and ones that I hope you won’t make.

 

  1. Decluttering when the kids are home

Decluttering when the kids are home is counterproductive- not only will they constantly distract you from your task, but if they see you trying to discard their items, they may try to stop you.  Do not declutter while the kids are home. Wait until they are at school, or send them to a friend’s house for a few hours.

 

  1. Holding onto something that should be decluttered

You need to be completely honest with yourself while decluttering. People often make the mistake of holding onto something that they think they need, when in fact they don’t. As a general rule, if it’s something that can easily be replaced should you end up needing it (it won’t cost you too much and is easy to find), then discard it.

 

  1. Trying to declutter too much at once

Start off small- don’t try to declutter the entire home in one day. Focus on one area or space at a time. Decluttering your home could take several weeks or months, and that’s ok. If you try to do too much in one day, you will tire yourself out and give up completely.

 

  1. Buying and acquiring more things after decluttering

The process of decluttering also involves changing your mindset. There is no point in decluttering your things if you are going to replace those discarded things with new things. It’s so common for people to want to fill up the empty spaces in their homes with new things. And so the vicious cycle of owning stuff continues…

 

declutter

Image via Flickr

 

  1. Finding storage solutions is not the same as decluttering

There are so many handy and attractive storage solutions out there- it’s easy to get caught up in buying these storage items, thinking that this will solve the problem of too much stuff in your home. Storage neatly hides everything. The underlying problem is still there- you own too much stuff!

 

  1. Spending too long trying to sell items

Some items are worth trying to sell, but you must set a time limit for yourself. It’s easy to hold onto something, try to sell it and end up keeping the item. Give yourself a week or two depending on what it is you are trying to sell, then either donate or discard it.

 

Declutter

Image: Laia Ros via Flickr

 

  1. Focusing on physical clutter only

These days, clutter isn’t just the physical items that you have in your home. Clutter is also the emails and text messages that you receive on a daily basis on your laptop or phone. Set aside some time to go through your email inbox and delete emails that you don’t need, and unsubscribe from anything that no longer serves you.

 

I congratulate you on deciding to declutter- it is worth the time and effort. Focus not only on the clutter that you see, but also the clutter that you don’t see, and try not to revert back to your old habits of buying stuff that you don’t really need.

Are there any mistakes you’ve made while decluttering? Are there any other tips you would add to my list? I’d love to hear from you!

This post is linking up with:

 

With Some Grace

 

How To Keep Your Kids Rooms Clean

Keep your kids rooms clean

“How do you keep your kids rooms clean?”

This is a question I often hear parents asking, and it’s one of the biggest causes of arguments in my household.

My kids hate cleaning their rooms. Not that this is anything shocking or new, because I haven’t met a kid who enjoys doing so.

Miss 5 has the messiest bedroom in the house, without fail.

There are clothes all over the floor- she loves to take out at least 3 or 4 items before finally deciding which outfit she will wear. She will also pull out all the summer clothing in the middle of winter to try on for fun.

There are also the dreaded “bits and pieces” scattered on the floor- an Uno card, a Domino piece, one Barbie shoe, one Barbie broken arm, a pen lid, an odd sock, a chocolate wrapper (!). “Bits and pieces” make me cringe- they are a minimalists worst nightmare.

But one of the best ways to introduce minimalism and the concept of living with less is by encouraging your kids to keep their rooms clean. Here I share with you 5 tips to help keep your kids rooms clean, and your lives less busy.

 

5 Tips To Keep Your Kids Rooms Clean:

  1. Keep your own room clean: Actions speak louder than words. If you are constantly nagging your kids to clean their rooms but your own bedroom looks like a dump, guess what’s going to happen? They aren’t going to clean their rooms! Lead by example, and you will more likely see results.

 

  1. Teach your kids that things don’t hold value: This one is helpful for kids who like to hold onto everything. Remember that to live an unbusy life, we must learn to place less value on our material possessions, otherwise these possessions take hold of us. If we start teaching our kids the same principle from an early age, they will learn that it’s ok to get rid of stuff and not to hold onto everything. This will make it easier for your child to clean his/her room and keep it clean.

 

  1. Don’t bring it home: If you can stop items being brought into the home in the first place, there is less chance it will end up on your child’s bedroom floor. When your child comes home from school, have him/her empty his/her school bag straight away- lunch boxes to be put in the kitchen, dirty clothes in the laundry and collect any school notices. Read through the notices straight away and either file for later or place in the recycling bin.

 

  1. No food: We have a blanket rule of no food or drink in bedrooms (except for a glass of water on the bedside table at night). I was brought up this way, and now that I am a parent I see why it is an excellent rule. It reduces mess on the floors, prevents mice from visiting and allows the family to eat together (or at least in the same room!).

 

  1. Look for hiding spots: I’m not talking about finding a hiding spot for yourself once things get too tough- I’m referring to hiding spots that kids find to dump their clothes and toys. Miss 10 loves to stuff her clothes down the side of the bed, against the wall. She sometimes shoves all her clothes into the one drawer rather than putting them in the correct drawers or hanging them in the wardrobe. The sooner you discover the hiding spots, the sooner you can get your child out of this habit!

 

Yes there will probably always be arguments about cleaning rooms, but the more we put the above lessons into practice, the more likely there will be a change in attitude.

We don’t expect our kids to clean the entire house and perform all the chores (as much as it would be wonderful) but we have set an expectation that they must help pull their weight. They must at least keep their own spaces and things tidy, and put away the things that they have used. This is a common sense approach and should be non-negotiable.

Do you have trouble getting your kids to keep their rooms clean? What are some approaches you have taken that have worked? Would you add any tips to my list above?

Procrastinating Decluttering

The Best Time Is Now

So you’ve taken the first step in deciding to simplify your life.

Your plan of attack in creating an unbusy life will begin by decluttering your home.

But then the anxiety creeps in. You look around the room, and suddenly you realise how much crap you have accumulated. It could be 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years’ worth of stuff that you have held on to.

How on earth will you even begin such a monumental task? Or more importantly, where should you begin?

Maybe it’s too hard after all. Maybe it was a bad idea…

No, wait! Before you decide to throw in the towel and watch TV instead, let me give you some tips on how to get past the procrastination station and alleviate your anxiety and stress.

I, too, have been in this position and have felt the same way. It’s as though all of a sudden, the idea of living a less cluttered and more simplified life seems like a no-brainer and leaves you with a hatred for all the stuff you see around your home.

“What made me want to buy that thing in the first place? Did I seriously think I didn’t have enough stuff? That I needed more?”

Here are four ways that I get over the initial anxiety and stress that occurs before a major declutter session:

1. Baby steps:  Yes, making the decision to live an unbusy life and declutter the home is a major one, but that doesn’t mean you need to start running before you learn how to walk. Think of the process as one that is made up of many hundreds of little baby steps. Simply tackling one drawer, or one cupboard, or one box is enough to begin your process. You will feel less stressed and confused, and taking one baby step will give you the confidence to continue forward (when you are ready).

2. More doing, less thinking: You may notice that a million thoughts run through your head during your declutter session: “What a waste of money this was”, “Oh but I might need this someday”, “But what if…” STOP! It takes a lot of will power to silence these thoughts, but try focusing on what you are doing, rather than on what you are thinking. Recognise that these thoughts are occurring as a way to talk you out of the wonderful changes that you are making. That’s the unfortunate job of our brains: to make us second guess ourselves!

3. Remember why: Why did you decide to become less busy? Why did you want to simplify your life? What will an unbusy life mean to you? Write your number one reason on a piece of paper and stick it on your fridge, or on your bathroom mirror. When you feel anxious about your journey, go to this piece of paper and read it out loud. Or begin a ritual of reading it every morning after breakfast, before you begin your day.

4. Deep breaths: Before you begin a decluttering session, sit down, close your eyes and take in a slow, deep breath. Hold your breath for 2 seconds- then release and breathe out. Repeat this process 5 times. If you like to meditate, then you could use this time to meditate for several minutes, to clear your mind of any “inner noise”, and to prepare yourself for the task ahead. But if meditation is not for you, the breathing exercise should be sufficient enough to alleviate stressful feelings.

Often our negative thoughts and beliefs can sabotage any great new ideas we are trying to implement. Procrastinating when it comes to decluttering is one such way that our crafty minds try to stop us from moving forward. Realise that this is quite common when beginning your journey to a less busy life.

Grab the bull by the horns, start your journey with small steps and know that every step of your journey has been experienced by most of us living a minimalist lifestyle.

Now go and get rid of that crap!

5 Ways To Reduce Paper Clutter

Clean Desk

Image: Ultra Linx

 

Paper clutter is annoying.

And the more we try to get rid of it, the more it somehow creeps back into our lives: statements, bills, invoices, flyers, brochures, letters, printed documents, forms etc…etc…which is sometimes hard to believe, given we live in a world with sophisticated technological devices and solutions.

Moving to a less busy life involves scratching beneath the surface of busyness, to look for the not-so-obvious things that are contributing to our hectic lifestyles. Paper clutter is one such thing.

Think about the last time you checked your mailbox and found a bill or bank statement. You had to open the envelope, and either action the item or file it away for another day. Did you place it in a folder or drawer, or did you leave it in a pile with other paper documents? Did the pile increase until one day, you had to look for that document and couldn’t find it amongst the pile of paper clutter?

Paper clutter is also a physical reminder of the some of the tasks and issues we may be dealing with in our lives, and sometimes we like to file things away for another day because we don’t want to deal with the issue at hand.

Credit card statements remind us of the money we have spent, or maybe the money that we don’t have to pay for the things we have purchased. It could trigger emotional responses relating to financial stress.

Flyers and advertisements may remind us of things we need to attend to but “haven’t got time for”.

Paper clutter also impacts on our environment- think about the resources that have been used up in producing paper (both mechanical and chemical resources- did you know that paper is bleached?), the ink used to print the documents or the plastic used to cover magazines to make them waterproof. Yes paper can be recycled, but according to Clean Up Australia, producing 1 tonne of paper consumes 20-full grown trees however recycling the same amount of paper only saves 13 trees.

So we can see that the impact of paper clutter extends beyond the obvious of having too much junk in the house.

If we all make a conscious effort to either reduce paper clutter or eliminate it completely, we will have less clutter in our homes, feel less stressed and busy, and contribute to protecting our environment.

Here are 5 tips on reducing busyness through eliminating paper clutter:

1. Digital bills and statements

Contact your local energy/water/telecommunications suppliers and bank to ask if you can receive your bills and statements online. If you are in Australia, visit B Pay View where you can easily set up digital bills and statements, and can elect to receive reminder emails and SMS prior to your bill due date to prevent late payments. This also saves you getting late payment reminder letters when you have forgotten to pay!

2. No Junk Mail

Place a “No Junk Mail” sticker on your letterbox to stop the delivery of catalogues and other advertising material. Some organisations ignore this request, however if this is a problem for you either contact the organisation or find out if there are local laws or standards addressing this issue. If you are in Australia, it is actually illegal to place advertising material on car windscreens!

3. Deal with paper immediately

When you receive a bill or statement, deal with it straight away. If it is purely “junk”, place it in a recycling bin. If it can be paid straight away, then pay it! If not, then find a folder, box or some other storage solution to keep all such documents together in one place. Once the bill has been paid, then file it in another storage solution if you still need to keep it, otherwise shred the document before putting it in a recycling bin. Shredding personal documents prevents the theft of documents thrown into bins, which can be used for identity theft. Remember also that most companies keep your records on storage for a number of years, so if you are concerned about throwing out bills you may later need for reference, keep this in mind.

4. Say no!

The easiest way to prevent paper clutter is to say no! If you are out somewhere and someone tries to distribute a flyer to you, politely say “no thank you” or quickly read the flyer and return to the distributor. Self-serve cash registers in some supermarkets now give you the option to choose whether or not a receipt is printed for you. You could even use the camera on your phone to photograph information that you would otherwise receive in paper format!

5. Embrace technology

 Modern technology not only allows us to shop and bank online, and receive electronic communication- we can use apps to plan and diarise our days, view calendars on our phones, Google maps for directions rather than street directory books. We can purchase electronic versions of novels, send digital images to each other, take and store photos. Take some time to explore all of the technological options available to you: research some new apps that may help you eliminate clutter. Our local schools communicate via email and SMS, and even school lunches can be ordered via an app. Use Dropbox or Evernote to store files, documents and information that you can then access from any device anywhere in the world- saves you having to waste paper printing documents. Many government departments are beginning to accept scanned copies of documents rather than print outs. Some airlines no longer require you to print plane tickets purchased online. The possibilities are endless!

Reducing paper clutter may take some time and effort initially, and may require us to step out of our comfort zones. But the rewards are far greater, with a home or office free of paper clutter, allowing us to spend time and effort on things that are far more important than sorting and filing.

What are some ways that you are reducing paper clutter in your home or workplace? What apps do you use to help you transition from paper to paper-free? Share your suggestions!

The Value Of What We Own

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We often think about the value of things in terms of their monetary value- is this dress on sale? Can they reduce the price for me? That’s a great 2-for1 offer. When we are decluttering our homes and getting rid of the stuff we have accumulated, we may have difficulty determining what should stay and what should go based on the monetary association we make.

Think back to the last time you decluttered your home and couldn’t part with something because it felt like a waste of money to get rid of it.

Although it is important to remind ourselves of the actual cost of a purchase we made, we must learn to think about the value the item has brought to our lives. This helps us sort out what is adding value to our lives, and what is simply “getting in the way”.

How Else Can We Measure Value?

I have always been an avid reader and previously had a large collection of books. During the beginnings of my unbusy journey when I was decluttering my home, I started to think about the value of everything in my home. Yes the books I read had brought me joy and increased knowledge, however there was no longer value in the books sitting on a shelf gathering dust. These books could continue to offer great value to other people if I decided to let go of them. I thought about someone else reading the book and experiencing enjoyment, and this was enough for me to decide that it was time to give away almost all of my books (except a select few that I re-read every few years).

A similar principle can also be applied when we are thinking of purchasing something or bringing an item into our homes. Living in a less cluttered home is not just about how much you can get rid of, but also how you can stop bringing more things into your homes.

If I am considering purchasing something, I spend a couple of minutes thinking beyond the cost of the item itself. I think about the potential value that the item would add to our lives. This is something I am currently doing as I begin to think about Christmas and what to purchase for our kids. They want new Barbie dolls- would this bring more value to their lives? Going by past experience, they would play with them for several weeks before forgetting about them and moving onto something else. I don’t see this purchase as adding significant value, but rather creating more clutter.

Quality not quantity

Living a less busy, and more minimalistic life can be defined differently according to what each individual values. It isn’t about the number of items in your home, but whether what you own adds value to your life. This is a very personal interpretation- what one person values might be considered junk by somebody else.

If you are beginning your unbusy journey and decluttering your home, focus on getting rid of the things that do not add value to your life rather than how many items you want to get rid of. Initially this will be an easy task as you will find many things in your home that no longer serve you.

The difficulty comes later on when you are left with more sentimental items or those you spent a lot of money on. This is where it helps to assess the value of the item to you- sometimes a piece of furniture is of high value because it brings you great comfort. Other times a piece of furniture is unnecessary and is a “space filler” in the room.

5 Tips For Assessing Value

The next time you are assessing the value of something during a decluttering session, ask yourself the following questions. You can also use some of these questions to assess whether a potential purchase would add value to your life.

  • What do I currently do with this item? Is it being used? When was the last time it was used?
  • Does this item currently make my life better and if so, in what way?
  • Could this item offer more value to somebody else?
  • Is this item worth the time I am spending looking after it and storing it?
  • Is this item worth the space I am giving it in my home?

Is there anything in your home that no longer adds value to your life? Or is there something you cannot part with because of the value that it adds?

One Task At A Time

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A few weeks ago I was studying for exams, trying to memorise the definition of a deferred tax asset, while stirring a pot of bolognaise sauce for dinner. All was going well until I suddenly caught myself making a mental list of the ingredients for the sauce, which caused me to forget the accounting definition I thought I had just memorised.

Such is the life of a multitasker, juggling more than one task at the same time, and very poorly I might add.

I decided to put aside my studies and concentrate on dinner instead, focusing my attention on perfecting the bolognaise sauce. Accounting definitions could wait until the right time when I could dedicate myself physically and mentally to the reading required.

Along with being busy, multitasking has become a modern day badge of honour to be worn with pride while doing twenty other things at the same time. Somehow we have equated multitasking with being skilled, organised, and productive, however this is further from the truth.

A 2009 Stanford University study into multitasking found that those who multitasked were easily distracted and had trouble organising and storing information in their brains. Their performance was lower when compared with subjects who did not multitask.

Researchers found that heavy multitaskers also had difficulty filtering information, which meant that subjects struggled to perform tasks as they had difficulty sorting relevant from irrelevant information relating to their tasks.

Think about the last time you tried doing more than one thing at the same time, for example, reading a text message on your phone while you are in the middle of a conversation with someone else. Did you read the message, and then fully return to the conversation you were having, or did your mind continue to focus on the message?

When we multitask, we spread ourselves too thinly- we distribute our efforts, time and knowledge over many smaller tasks. We neglect to focus our attention on the one task, therefore we don’t give fully to what we are doing in the present moment. This leads to spending even more time trying to accomplish tasks that may have been completed more quickly if we had devoted ourselves to single-tasking instead.

What Multi-tasking Is Really Doing To Our Lives

By multitasking, we lose the opportunity of finding the beauty in an otherwise fleeting moment. Our mind is so caught up in the tasks that we are performing that we are distracted from other possibilities- the chance to connect with another person or a lesson that presents itself in a situation.

Multitasking can impact on the quality of our work and therefore our careers- think of times when you have been speaking with a client over the phone and at the same time, have been typing an email. You find yourself not being able to fully listen to your client who is speaking, and you cannot completely focus on what you are typing at the same time. If this was a potential client you were dealing with, you may have missed an opportunity to connect with your client, or to offer something of value. You may have missed the sale!

How You Can Gain From Single-Tasking

Single-tasking is focusing on undertaking one task at a time wherever possible, as opposed to multitasking.

Here are some ways that I have gained from focusing on single-tasking:

-I am not as physically drained as I was when I was working on more than one task at the same time

-My mind focuses less on irrelevant tasks or thoughts, because I am able to prioritise. Yes I get fewer things done each day but I choose things that are of higher importance, and focus more energy on these things.

-I gain more from the present moment- by listening to my daughter read and not doing anything else at the same time, I am strengthening my connection with her. I am also able to correct any mistakes she is making, or can start a conversation about what she is reading, which further extends her learning. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I was cooking dinner at the same time!

-I can invest more of myself into the task at hand, therefore improving my quality of work. By setting aside time to study for exams when I am not being distracted by anything else, I am able to focus more, and absorb more information, leading to a more successful study session.

By prioritising, focusing on the present moment, and investing more of yourself into what you are doing, you can learn to shift your mindset from tackling many different things at once, to approaching each task individually. Retraining your brain to think in terms of single-tasking wherever possible and limiting multitasking, will create a shift in the quality of work that you are producing. Your productivity will, in fact, increase. You will make fewer mistakes, be less busy, miss fewer opportunities and gain so much more by being present in the moment.

Have you made the change from multitasking to single-tasking, and how has this impacted on how you approach tasks? Let me know!

 

Why I decided to live with less

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Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

I think this sums up nicely why I decided in 2013 that I wanted to live with less stuff.

I tried consumerism, I tried fitting in with what everyone else around me in a similar situation was doing, I tried being many different things to many different people and guess what? I got the same result: anxiety, a lack of satisfaction and a tonne of frustration.

One night I remember thinking aloud “There’s gotta be a better way, there’s gotta be more to life than this”.

It took another 6 months of soul searching to discover what this “better way” was, and even when I found it I wasn’t sure it was going to be the answer to all my problems. But that’s the beauty of life: trying different paths, not having a map or a plan or any idea but just going with the flow and seeing what happens.

When I discovered minimalism as a way of living through blogs such as Miss Minimalist, The Minimalists, Be More With Less and Becoming Minimalist, I felt a sense of relief to find a community of people who realised that there is indeed more to life than what we have been conditioned to believe, and it was through the sharing of their stories that I was inspired to create a major change in my life.

I began like most people trying to simplify their lives: tackling the physical stuff. The clutter. The crap.

I felt nearly every emotion possible while decluttering the stuff in our house, from anger and confusion, to happiness and melancholy, and some of my thoughts were:

“Where did all these mugs come from?”

“Do I really need five of these when only one will do?”

“Someone else can get more use out of this.”

“What the hell was I thinking?”

“I’m just going to get rid of it and not think about it.”

“I don’t know if I’m ready to part with this.”

“What if I need this one day?”

“But it was a gift from {insert name}, what would they think if they knew I was throwing this out?”

“Far out, I forgot I even had this!”

The whole experience of decluttering was a real eye-opener for me because I caught myself thinking the silliest and most irrational thoughts that were mostly related to fear- fear of what would happen if I let go of something, fear of making the wrong decision or fear of what would be left of our home once the decluttering was completed.

Looking back now, I was only scratching the surface of a simpler life when I decided to declutter our home because what has followed since then is a journey along a very new and exciting path for not only myself but for my family too. I initially decided to live with less stuff because I knew that all of the stuff I was consuming and holding onto in my life was not making me happy, but I had no idea that living a simpler life would give me so much more joy than any material item ever could.

A simpler life has given me more TIME.

A simpler life has given me an appreciation for the simple things in life.

A simpler life has strengthened my relationship with my husband and children.

A simpler life has made me less stressed, less anxious and less willing to live a life according to society’s expectations.

A simpler life has given me the confidence to try new experiences and challenges.

A simpler life has brought me more happiness.

If you are reading this but have not yet begun to live a less busy and more meaningful life through a minimalist lifestyle, I cannot make you change the way you live, I cannot tell you what to do with your life, but I ask that you reflect on how you feel about your life, your self, your relationships, your dreams. I ask that you consider that there may be a better way to do this, that there IS more to life than what you have been led to believe.

And if there is a little voice telling you to try live a more simpler and less busy life, to get rid of stuff, to say no every once in a while, to make time for those you care about- listen to that voice.

Go with the flow, and see where it takes you.