Every once in a while I like to take some time for myself and recharge my life. In this time I go through and revitalize each area of my life. Every time I have one goal in mind: simplify and improve.
Every time I do this, I get a lot of energy and new ideas back as a result.
Here are some tips I want to share to start decluttering your life.
I spend most of my working day in front of a computer, so it’s logical for me to begin here.
- Email. Email can become very distracting, so I make sure I’m not giving it too much importance. First, I go through all my email accounts and I point them to the same inbox, so I can read each of them from the same place. To do this I forward every email to my main gmail account, so I can also avoid to install additional software on my computer. I also go through my last emails and I unsubscribe from any newsletter I’m no longer interested in.
- Internet. Internet can easily become one of the major sources of distractions for me. First, I go to my RSS list and I get rid of any feed I no longer want to follow. Then I make sure my bookmarks list contains only links I really need and that are still relevant. I use delicious to track my bookmarks and websites that I found interesting.
- Software. I like to have a minimal setup on my mac, so I constantly check that my desktop and download folders are empty, and my documents are in order. I also like to keep my applications to the minimum, so I constantly delete old applications that I don’t need anymore. I do backups daily, of both my computers and my servers, so I don’t have to worry about that.
- Notifications. Another distracting feature are notifications. I always make sure that I have email and other notifications turned off. If you use a mac, make sure to disable growl.
- Desk. The last think I look to declutter in my workspace is my desk. I get rid of all the stuff that don’t belong there and I keep only what’s essential, which usually means just my computer and a notebook.
It’s nice to have a clutter-free environment at home, so it’s important to put some order in your personal effects. Here’s what I usually do at home.
- Old stuff. Old stuff is the number one thing that brings disorder at home. I constantly trash everything I no longer want to use, without thinking too much about it. The first time I did this, it was difficult as I didn’t really know what to do. With time this step has become easier and easier and I now have less and less stuff to think about.
- Clothes. Every year, I trash or donate all the old clothes in my wardrobe that I know I’m not going to use anymore. I like to have just the essential and I prefer few items of a higher quality.
- Magazines. I now have zero subscriptions so this step doesn’t apply for me anymore. However, I used to maintain a few magazine subscriptions, so I constantly needed to get rid of the stack of magazines that accumulated in my bedside.
- Your room. Finally, it’s extremely rewarding to look at things in your room that don’t belong there and get rid of them. Cleaning shelves it’s also a nice thing to do to do.
The last thing to look at is your productivity system and your inner self. This is eventually where everything will begin, so pay special attention to it.
- Todo list. Things you have to do and ideas can accumulate in many places, so it helps to merge them in a single sheet of paper or inbox every few days. At the same time, going though your todo lists and getting rid of items that are no more important or relevant can bring a lot of positiveness.
- Goals. Goals can become obsolete after a while, so I constantly check them and see if there’s something that needs revision, and if my projects and actions are moving accordingly with them. It’s also refreshing to read your goals constantly so you always know what you really want to achieve in the long term.
Learn to get rid of all the tasks you don’t really need. Apply the 20% rule on your todo list and select the three tasks that can dramatically make a difference in your life. Then commit to dedicate your time to those three tasks instead of procrastinating in other activities.
A note about productivity
Your productivity system should be kept as minimal as possible. I use a simple software to track my todo lists, and paper for my daily lists.
There are three things I think I think every productivity system should have:
- Inbox. An inbox is a container where you put all the stuff that comes through your life during the day. Everything from new tasks to do, articles to read and unplanned events, should be put in your inbox first. You can have both a physical and virtual inbox, depending on your particular needs. At the end of the day (or multiple times per day) it’s important that you empty your inbox and decide exactly what you want to do with each entry. Don’t let anything in your list for more than two days.
- Goals list. This list contains the goals you want to achieve. Write each goal clearly, for example write down how much you want to earn or how much you want to weigh. Clarity is important because you are expressing exactly what you want, so your brain can work on it in the background. Finally, write a deadline for these goals .
- Calendar. A calendar is important to track events that happens at a specific date. For example a good use of a calendar is to remember appointments and parties that you want to attend. You should not use a calendar to mark your daily list tough, that’s what todo lists are made for.
This is the basic of every productivity system. From here you can develop your own system by introducing daily todo lists, sub goals, etc.
A final tip
Here’s a final tip that I rarely see mentioned elsewhere. Each week, probably on friday evening, take 20 minutes of your time and write down in paper everything that you can think of. Write down ideas, things you don’t have to forgot, and anything else you can think about. Commit to do this exercise for 20 minutes and don’t stop writing until that time has passed.
This exercise is extremely beneficial as you have the opportunity to take a dump of your thoughts and gain clarity and wasted space by decluttering your mind.
The first times you’ll do this exercise, you may found some difficulties, but after a few times it’ll become something extremely valuable for you. Make sure finally to process your list after the 20 minutes.
By decluttering your workspace and your mind you will gain time and clarity. Stress will leave in its place opportunity, and new ideas will start to come.
What are your tips for decluttering your life and your workspace?