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!