A step-by-step guide that will teach you how to declutter your life in one week
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Learning how to declutter your life in one week could be the best way you to spend time your free time. Start by gathering up everything you need.
When Marie Kondo swept the scene with her Netflix show, people went a wee bit mental.
There were protests against as well as support for her and her organisational method all over the internet.
Whatever your inclination – diehard minimalist, unapologetic overconsumer or somewhere in between – you have to admit that she got people talking about the importance of decluttering and organisation.
Unfortunately, many seem to have missed one of the important points she was making.
She wasn’t just trying to help us organise our homes. She was also trying to help us learn how to declutter life.
Every time she encourages us to ask if an item sparks joy, she’s actually asking as to evaluate our life – the decisions we made and continue to make that then show up (usually as clutter) in our lives.
It’s an invitation to be fully conscious of our thoughts and our emotions and how these two impact our actions and decisions. In fact, if you watch the show, you’ll see that there is always a reason behind someone’s clutter.
Sometimes, it alleviates fear. Other times, it’s because of overwhelm. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what it is, the fact is, there is always a reason.
For example, have you ever felt completely swamped by your responsibilities that you actually feel discouraged just thinking about it?
Have you ever tossed and turned in your bed in the early hours of the morning because of an overflowing to-do list that never seems to end?
Have you ever experienced waking up in the morning with dread?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to consider taking a good long look at the decisions you’re making and learn how to declutter life, how to streamline your life and make things easier and less challenging.
Luckily for you, this post will jumpstart your way to a more streamlined life in only seven days.
Side Note: This post will not help you tackle a cluttered house. That is simply beyond the scope of this particular article. If that’s what you’re looking for, head on over to our post, “How To Declutter Fast: 5 Easy Steps to A Clutter-Free Home.“
Declutter your life Day #1: Prepare.
“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity,” said Henry Hartman.
It’s as true for decluttering your life as it is for everything else so before you actually dive into this seven-day process, start by preparing.
Preparation tip #1: Ready your mind.
Mental preparation is the key to your success.
You need to actually commit to the fact that you will be going through a process of letting go, that you will start today and finish the entire process and that you will continue this process for as long as you need to.
It’s a tall order.
If you’ve ever watched the show Hoarders (and if you haven’t yet, I recommend you do), you’ll notice that in each episode, there are underlying mental and emotional reasons that drive people to hoard even the most unsanitary of things.
Which reminds me – I need to put a disclaimer here.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to replace medical assistance. If you suspect that you have underlying mental health issues, it’s essential that you get a proper diagnosis from your doctor because chances are, clutter is not the only symptom you’re experiencing.
Alternatively, you can enlist the help of a licensed therapist online. This is actually my preference as it can be difficult to get a referral to a psychologist where I live.
Also, it’s reassuring for me to know that I can simply message my therapist anytime I need to and I’d get a response ASAP. I don’t have to wait weeks for an appointment. And it’s nowhere near as expensive as it could be otherwise.
If you feel that this is something you would like to try too, I highly recommend Talkspace. They’re currently running a promotion too to help you get off the ground. Just use code ‘APPLY65’ when you apply and you’ll get $65 off your first month.
Preparation tip #2: Ready your equipment.
Think of this as following a recipe you’ve seen online.
Check the pantry to make sure you have the ingredients, right?
Decluttering your life in only one week is the same. You need to ready all the tools you’re going to use before you actually start or I can guarantee you that you won’t finish the process in one week.
It will stretch into infinity until finally, you succumb to The Law of Diminishing Intent, lose your motivation and just give up on your good intentions.
So, before you start, make sure you check out the full resource list below and ready those you need to make this week your best week ever.
Preparation tip #3: Ready your people.
This week would flow a lot faster if you were single, have no kids, living on your own and aren’t working (or don’t need to work).
As it happens, this isn’t true for most of us.
I’m actually updating this post right now whilst Scotland is in lockdown due to pandemic that’s spreading like wildfire all over the world.
My husband – classed as an essential key worker has just been called out to respond to a plumbing emergency – and I’m in charge of my three-year-old, who has just discovered the huge bag of toys I’d stashed in our utility room.
The house is a disaster and I had to choose between tidying up the house and tidying up this post. Obviously, I chose the latter.
The point of that story is that for many of us, this period isn’t quiet and contemplative. Instead, it’s stressful and panic-inducing. We have competing responsibilities and the thought of doing a complete overhaul of your life right now might be too much to do on your own.
So, talk to your people, your family, your friends – especially if they live with you. Ask them for help if needed or just give them a heads up that you’re doing something major.
A strong support network can really help.
Declutter your life Day #2: Study.
On the second day, you can start the process by studying your lifestyle and figuring out what activities aren’t pleasant or useful.
QUESTION #1: What activities are necessary and which are a surplus in your daily life?
QUESTION #2: Which people have a positive influence in your life and which have a negative influence?
For example, some people watch movies back to back in the evening, read until the wee hours, play videogames when they get back from work and so on. Are these activities useful or pleasurable?
Some people go to lunch with colleagues at work who do nothing but laugh at other colleagues (or worse, complain about all sorts of things). Do these colleagues bring positive or negative influence in your life?
Take a look at the flowchart below and ask these questions when you’re examining the activities you’re currently busying yourself with.
You can adapt it to help you answer the second question.
If your goal is to lead a clutter-free life, then you need to examine, not just the things that you’re doing but, more importantly, the people you’re doing it with.
Never discount the power of association. The people you spend the most time with have an unrivalled ability to influence your thoughts and your actions.
That’s why Jim Rohn recommends that you always pay close attention to who these people are and what they actually do to you.
The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle – This is where Jim Rohn discusses the power of association and tells you how to take inventory of your relationships and handle those that give you nothing but negativity.
Declutter your life Day #3: Create.
One of the best ways to declutter life is to create a sense of purpose by establishing your own goals.
Jim Rohn, America’s foremost business philosopher, discovered the power of goals when he was just starting out.
When you have a realistic and actionable goal that is specific, measurable and comes complete with a deadline, you know where you have to focus your energy and your actions.
All unnecessary things fall away and you’re left with the only things that matter to help you accomplish your goals.
For example, try saying this to yourself, “I would like a new house someday.” How did it make you feel? Melancholic? As if a new house is some faraway dream that you can’t quite achieve? A fantasy that’s slightly out of reach?
Now, try this one, “I am happily and easily moving into my own three-bedroom villa in Palermo, Sicily on 25 December 2020 at exactly 4 PM.” Smile to yourself whilst you’re saying it and imagine yourself shaking hands with the real estate agent. Now, how did that feel? Did you look forward to it? Did you get goosebumps?
I did just writing it.
A sense of purpose is powerful. It helps you develop a laser focus that can penetrate obstacles and challenges that would normally defeat you.
The Ultimate Guide To A Life Of Purpose – Discover your purpose in life and learn how to finally follow your bliss.
Declutter your life Day #4: Reduce.
Reduce your commitments.
Contrary to what you were most likely taught as a child, it’s not ok to always say yes to people. Focusing on yourself – your dreams and your goals – is not selfish. And learning how to say no is not rude.
One of the reasons why we’re so busy in this day and age is precisely because of our inability or unwillingness to say no.
When someone asks you to do something, go back to the flowchart on Day 2. Unless it’s absolutely urgent and you can’t delegate the task to someone else, you are not obligated to do it.
Unless of course, you’re being asked to do something that you actually enjoy doing.
In which case, definitely say yes.
The Ultimate Guide To Self Love – Everything you’ll ever need to know about loving yourself.
The Ultimate Guide To Getting To Know Yourself – Everything you’ll ever need to know about getting to know yourself.
Declutter your life Day #5: Establish.
If you’ve been following the process, you’ll find that you now have the information you need to start establishing new routines.
You can start a morning or evening routine, a work routine, a fitness routine, food prep routine, a journaling routine and so forth. There are a lot of routines that can help you maintain a decluttered life.
I personally started with a journaling routine where I write down my goals for the month, the things I learn from the books I read and the seminars I attend, my weekly and daily priorities, the tasks I need to accomplish and my affirmation of the day.
After three months, that routine is now well-established and I have now started a morning routine to help with my anxiety.
You may want to start differently but I found that writing in a journal a really good starting point. I remembered things better and I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish in any given month, week and day.
I could also measure my progress based simply on how many of my priorities I manage to complete on the day I’m supposed to complete them.
Why is establishing a routine important?
Answer: studies have shown that we only have so much willpower and every time we make a decision, our willpower bank gets depleted. Decision fatigue is real and can be a big problem.
Imagine, for example, that you have 10 coins at the start of your day. If you had to choose between breakfast of a doughnut and a cup of coffee and breakfast of omelette and orange juice, that’s like paying one coin from your willpower bank.
If you then go to work and find that you have to choose between that PowerPoint presentation you need to create or that press release you need to write, you’re 2 coins down.
And so on.
(Notice that these are scenarios where you only have to choose between two options. What if there are more than two possibilities? Your bank would get depleted a lot faster.)
Usually, by the end of the day, we don’t have any coins left to make any sensible decisions.
A routine helps because you don’t have to make any decisions, you just follow your routine.
Declutter your life Day #6: Rethink.
Day 6 is devoted to rethinking your relationships with the people around you.
Remember that you (and the life you live) are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Can you see what kind of person you become after spending time with them? Are you uplifted by their positivity? Do they inspire you to achieve your dreams? Or do you need to always be doing the uplifting and motivating? Do you become more positive or negative after spending time with them?
What if you have family and friends who do nothing but criticise, condemn or make fun of you and your dreams? Does this mean that you should banish them from your life?
Not necessarily (although sometimes you may have to).
Sometimes, you do have the power to lift them up, if they want to be lifted up. Other times, they bring you nothing but negativity. They demean you or otherwise bring you nothing but grief.
In those cases, you have a few choices. Sometimes, you just need to set firmer boundaries or communicate your feelings in a better way.
Or limit the amount of time you spend with them as much as possible – perhaps from 7 days a week to maybe 2 or 3.
It is not cruel to disassociate from relationships that don’t serve you.
Make the choice to always take the high road. By all means, lend a helping hand but don’t allow yourself to be dragged down to negative thinking and living.
This isn’t self-centredness or selfishness or you dropping people out of spite or cruelty. This is you protecting your dreams as you set out to create the life you deserve.
20 Things To Let Go Of Now – A list of twenty insidious things that could be holding you back from the life of bliss you deserve.
Morning Routine To Help Anxiety – A simple morning routine that can help you cope with anxiety. You can use this as a springboard to create other routines – evening, self care, etc.
Declutter your life Day #7: Implement.
Once you have all the information you’ve gathered on Days 1 to 6, use Day 7 to implement any action plans.
For example, if you find that your best friends also happens to be the first person that causes you to doubt yourself, now is the time to remedy it.
Have that important conversation. Start going to new places in search of potential new friends (might be a tad difficult now with lockdown and social distancing in place).
If you realise that you don’t know anyone positive or successful but you want to be both these things, start listening to audio and watching videos of people you admire. Let them be your mentor. Let them influence you via the power of association.
If, after the past six days, you realise that some of the activities you busied yourself with are things you never did enjoy and which you can delegate, then delegate away.
Now is your chance.
The smallest thing can cause the biggest changes.
Implement your action plans and finally free your life of clutter once and for all.
Final thoughts on how to declutter your life in one week
At the end of the day, you need to remember that there is no one way to declutter your life. I’m not saying that you need to do all these things though I encourage you to give them a shot too as these are the steps I’ve taken myself and they made a ton of difference.
You may not see immediate results. Sometimes it just takes time.
But that’s what decluttering life is all about really – a commitment to examining and understanding the decisions you make in life, the people you allow to have a say, the activities that you choose to engage in.
Have you ever tried to declutter not just your home but also your life? How did you do it? Do you feel you succeeded? If you feel that you didn’t, why do you think that is?
Comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
Full resource list to help you declutter your life in one week
Todoist – A free app that will help you stay on top of your to-do list, order your tasks based on priority and a whole lot more.
This is my second brain.
Click here for a 2-month FREE access to the premium app, which will allow you to easily organize and prioritize your tasks and projects so you’ll always know exactly what to work on next.
Journal – My third brain, a journal lets me record the past – success, failures, problems and solutions as well as the future – dreams, goals, plans. You can choose whichever one suits you best.
I’m actually going with a digital journal now.
Journaling pens – You need something to write with once you start brain dumping and you can’t go wrong with these pens. There’s something very therapeutic about writing and combined with the journal above and some breathing exercises, decluttering your life can be quite a meditative experience.
Daily Planner – An excellent (and beautiful) tear-off planner to help you stay on top of your life.
Customisable planners and calendars – My go-to site for anything customisable – for when I can’t find anything that suits.
The 4-Hour Workweek – If your goal is to streamline your life, this book is the one you need to read. Also contains actionable tips, such as how to set up automated email responses.
G-Suite – Once you start decluttering your life, you’ll need a powerful suite of digital services that will allow you to delegate tasks, set automated email responses, store digital files etc. You can’t go wrong with Google’s own G-suite.
Use code N3NHNHFVHQ6M734 for 20% off the first year for the Basic Plan and code K9VWVE3RR3ADCLN for the Business Plan.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been completely revamped and updated for relevance and comprehensiveness.