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Here’s what it really means to declutter your life, and 7 ways to do it

Marie Kondo is sparking a massive movement that’s making many of us discard things that “do not spark joy.”

Her latest Netflix show has us evaluating our material possessions and forcing us to only keep the ones that give us a positive feeling.

And sure, decluttering your space can be life-changing.

In fact, according to VINAYA, a London-based research laboratory and design studio, there’s a reason why decluttering feels so good, saying:

“It might be a specific neurological state related to how we experience self identification to objects around us and and our general surroundings.”

And there are several studies to back this up.

A study from Yale University found that certain areas in your brain light up when we let go of objects we are particularly emotional about.

Neuroscientists at Princeton University also determined that our brains perform better on tasks and challenges when our environment is clutter-free.

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But the positive effects of decluttering doesn’t only apply to our “physical space.”

It can also be done with other aspects of our lives.

True, this is not a new concept. We’re all aware that we should always let go of the people and things that weigh us down.

However, it’s easier said than done.

Just like in clothes, we also love hoarding relationships, emotions, goals – which is not a bad thing per se.

But if they make our life messy, the only other choice is to declutter them, too.

So how do you declutter your life? Read ahead for 5 simple life-hacks to ridding your life of dead weight.

1. Create a more structured routine.

The most common mistake we do is not setting up an efficient daily routine. We usually tackle our day-to-day tasks and commitments haphazardly.

That’s not saying you should turn to a strict, rigid schedule.

But you’ll benefit greatly from a more structured routine.

Start by writing down your daily obligations, tasks, errands. Once you get the hang of that, you can plan a weekly calendar.

You’ll notice you’re not stressing out as you used to. You’re giving your brain a more organized signal of tasks.

Additionally, you’ll have more time and energy to do things for yourself, hang out with your loved ones, and pursuing your passions. 

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2. Declutter your friendships.

“You don’t have a choice about whether or not others have power in your life. They do. But you do have a choice as to what kind of power others are going to have.”

Henry Cloud, expert psychologist and bestselling author of The Power of the Other (The startling effect other people have on you) makes some amazing points about the impact our friends have on our well-being. His book is laden with hard-hitting wisdom on why we need to declutter friendships, too.

“You can’t master people, but you can become a master at choosing and dealing with people.”

The best gift you can give yourself is to be surrounded by people who only bring you up, not drag you down.

3. Say no to things you don’t like.

We commit to things or activities for plenty of reasons. Sometimes we say yes because it’s the “right thing to do” or we don’t want to offend anyone.

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It may sound cruel, but at the end of the day, you don’t owe anything to anyone.

If you don’t like it, don’t do it. Don’t waste any more time on it.

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So learn the art of saying no. Don’t attend that wedding. Don’t go to pilates. Stop talking to that horrible colleague.

Instead, commit to saying yes only to the things that bring you joy. Please yourself before you please others. 

Life is too short. You can’t control every little thing. But when it matters most, you need to choose what makes you happy.

4. Digital decluttering.

Yes. There’s such a thing as digital decluttering.

The truth is, whether we like it or not, our lives are deeply connected to technology. We do almost everything online.

So it’s only natural we end up hoarding things like emails, texts, digital photos, etc.

Try to keep an eye on your digital folders, too.

Delete that 2-year old text chain, unsubscribe from those annoying newsletters, unfollow people who don’t inspire you. Create subfolders so you know where to browse important emails.

Sort out your digital life and you’ll see the impact it can cause on your real life, too.

5. List, list, list.

Teach yourself the art of creating lists. You don’t have to go all out.

In fact, it’s something simple you can do – right now. 

Creating lists isn’t as inconsequential as you think. It gives our life order, forces us to prioritize, and saves us a lot of time.

Grocery shopping? Make a list.

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Traveling? Make an itinerary.

Juggling multiple work projects? Create a task board.

You don’t need to develop an OCD to create efficiency in your life. In fact, it’s important to be flexible when things don’t go your way.

But for the most part, if you can organize it, list it. 

Closing thoughts

Do you know exactly what stress does to your body?

Irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches – things that can damage your overall well-being. 

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You might not know it, but you are unconsciously hoarding things that are hurting you – not just your closet. 

Ask yourself, does everything in your life serve a purpose? Because it should. Don’t go living the rest of your life carrying dead weight.

While it is important to declutter your space and home, it’s just as important to organize your life too.


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Written by Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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