Forecast the future
Imagine the point in the future when you have just died, and your relatives arrive to clean out your house. What will they want and what will they give away, bin or recycle? You can make their task easier by dealing with your possessions now, instead of foisting it on to them.
Beware of clutter magnets
In just about everyone’s house or office, certain areas become magnets for clutter: the dining-room table, the chest of drawers in the hallway, a chair in the bedroom – not to mention, the “floordrobe”. Clutter tends to accumulate, so make an effort to clear those areas every night.
Ask yourself: do you need more than one?
While it can be helpful to have more than one phone charger or pair of scissors, you probably don’t need two flour sifters and three pen cups. It’s often easier to keep track of one item than it is of several – when you have only one pair of sunglasses, you may find that they are always to hand.
Move clutter out of context
When we see objects settled into a particular place over time, it becomes hard to imagine where else they might go – so put your clutter into a new context. Gather up items in a box and carry it to a well-ordered room. Once you remove things from the places in which they have settled, it becomes much easier to decide what to do with them.
For clothing, consider the ex factor
If you can’t decide whether to keep an item of clothing, ask yourself: “Would I be happy to run into my ex wearing this?”
Beware of freebies
Yes, you went to that conference and got a branded mug, T-shirt, water bottle, journal and pen. But if you don’t have a clear plan to use these things, they are clutter, and can end up taking up a lot of time, energy and space. The best way to deal with freebies is to never accept them in the first place.
Buy better souvenirs
These items may seem wonderful when you’re on holiday, but will you really want to put them on your shelves when you get home? If you love to buy souvenirs, consider acquiring items that are small, useful or easy to display, and yet good at conjuring memories, such as Christmas tree ornaments, cooking spices, charms for a bracelet and postcards.
Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness by Gretchen Rubin is published by Two Roads on 7 March