How to declutter your life: small gestures for a better you
How to declutter your life is a process that requires rules and habits. It’s not something you do today and tomorrow is alright. If you declutter your wardrobe impeccably today and store everything anyway, what is the result? Mess again. The same goes for the organization in general.
Another important thing about organization is that it is not done overnight. Forget this idea of taking a day to get organized. You do not need that! Doing a little bit every day is what makes the difference and, over time, you can incorporate new habits into your day to day.
So, nothing to postpone. No waiting for Monday, next week, next month, next year. Start getting organized with the tips below.
How to declutter your life: 5 tips
1. Commit to who you want to be
This is the main tip for mastering willpower and understanding how to organize your life by making positive changes (including increasing your productivity): make a decision about who you want to be, and then commit to that decision.
So, if you say you want to write a book, but you did not commit to that decision, every time you sit down to write, you will probably face all kinds of internal conflicts that require a lot of willpower to eliminate: “I should write now or later? “; “I think I need to eat something.”; “Isn’t it time to check my email?”; “I think the dog needs to walk.” And over time, your willpower runs out and your successful book will remain in draft only.
However, when you truly commit to your decision, it becomes part of you – and what is part of you does not require willpower. Instead, it is automatic.
For example, “I don’t need willpower not to drink alcohol. It’s just not part of my identity.” So, the first step is to make decisions and then enjoy the process of incorporating those decisions into your identity, into who you are.
2. Create your environment around that commitment
The first step is to commit to your decision to increase your productivity and incorporate that into your identity. In the same vein, the second step is of equal importance.
The second component – which is essential – is to create an environment that favors this identity. In Western culture, we are very individualistic, so we think about who we are regardless of the context – however, the context is very powerful.
So, if you try to make a decision and your environment doesn’t favor that decision, either one: either the decision wasn’t really made because you didn’t create the environment to make it happen, or the decision is likely to fail because you need to exercise willpower against your environment.
Thus, if you made the decision to undertake, you need to create an environment that makes it possible to run a successful business, for example:
- You can attend a co-working space and surround yourself with professional entrepreneurs;
- Turn off cell phone notifications when you’re working so that nothing distracts you from your tasks;
- Reading books, listening to podcasts and attending conferences that inspire and excite you about your own business.
In short, and perhaps this is the biggest tip to declutter your life: if you create an environment conducive to productivity, you don’t need willpower to succeed.
3. Eliminate unnecessary decisions
According to several sources, an average adult makes some 35,000 decisions every day: check their email constantly and even scan their news feeds. We make thousands of decisions every day that we didn’t need to make before the existence of the internet, before globalization, before industrialization.
All of these decisions – and the consideration and effort required to make them – can lead to “decision fatigue,” the psychological principle that defines that the more decisions you need to make, the more difficult it becomes to make the right choices. In other words, if you spend all your time and energy deciding what to eat, what to wear or what emails to reply to, it makes it much more difficult to make positive decisions about what really matters).
Fortunately, there is an easy solution to decision fatigue: eliminate all unnecessary decisions from your environment.
The smartest thing you can do is proactively remove everything negative and minimize the number of decisions you need to make. For example, deleting mobile applications – this is a decision. You can delete a mobile application, so you don’t have to think about it in the future. This simply eliminates unnecessary choices.
Stop and deeply analyze your environment and identify which unnecessary decisions are taking up your time and energy.
For example, if you find that you are always distracted from working with text messages, turn off your notifications while doing so-called “deep work”; thus, you eliminate all unnecessary decisions from a text message conversation.
The more decisions you eliminate during the day, the more mental energy you will have left for important decisions, such as organizing your life and working to achieve your goals.
4. Know (and protect yourself from) your triggers
Unfortunately, however much you commit to increasing your productivity – and creating an environment that supports that intention – unforeseen events can happen to distract you and hinder your productivity.
Want another tip to organize your life? The secret to preventing these things from overturning your productivity plans is to anticipate them and come up with an action plan to combat them.
You basically need to plan for failure in order to succeed. This is done not only by visualizing the result of a goal, but by visualizing the process and the obstacles you will face. And then, the next step is to create a ‘if-then’ conditional situation.
So, let’s assume that every time you start to feel bored or uneasy, you open Facebook. The trigger is the feeling of boredom and restlessness – and the automatic way is to go to social media.
Here’s another tip for organizing your life: instead of going into automatic mode when the trigger appears (and wasting time and productivity on social media), you can come up with a proactive response to deal with the trigger:
- “If I feel bored and uneasy, I will get up and take a walk” or
- “If I feel bored and uneasy, I’ll stop for 10 minutes to listen to a podcast on productivity” or
- “If I feel bored and uneasy, I’ll take a few minutes to organize my desk”.
The goal is to replace your automatic response (Facebook) with a proactive response (take a walk, listen to a podcast, organize your table).
In the end, your proactive response will be the new automatic mode – and instead of the triggers leading you to more distractions, they will lead you to habits that increase your personal productivity.
5. Learn to choose the right environment
You can choose the environments you frequent, and if you choose to expose yourself to environments that improve your productivity, success is guaranteed.
For a long time, self-help basically talked about how change happens from the inside out. However, what research and psychology are showing is that the process of change actually happens from the outside in. In fact, you change through your behavior, environments, experiences. You can change from the inside out by proactively deciding which environments will change you.
Add to your list of tips for organizing life: if you want to increase your productivity, it is essential to be in environments that inspire you to produce more and achieve your goals.
If you want to run every day, just join a group racing team. If you want to dedicate two hours every day to writing your book, go to a library and turn off your wi-fi so no one will distract you from your process. If you want to improve your business, be part of a mastermind with other entrepreneurs who have been through what you are going through.
That is, the people, places and things that are part of your environment will shape you. So, if you are now discovering how to organize your life and increase your personal productivity, remember: you need to choose these people, these places and these things carefully.