15 September 2016

How to declutter your life

This is a short guide from a determined hoarder on how to declutter you life and make time for the things you really want to do.

When I look back I almost can't believe I ran the London Marathon in April earlier this year. Since then it feels like my life has changed an enormous amount in just four short months. I now have a new job, I've moved into a new flat in suburbia with two kittens, I've started volunteering at my hockey club and I've only been for two 4-mile runs since crossing the finish line. I have always been a firm believer in the idea that you make time for the things you want to do, which is why I'm starting to declutter my life - beginning with my wardrobe and end with my time-wasting habits.

Here's my advice for decluttering your life:

Decluttering your possessions

I am a serious hoarder. I know it can be hard to admit it but sometime you just have too much stuff. Do you really need to keep the cinema stub from the movie you saw with a friend last week? I always think I'll get around to scrap-booking these things but I never do. It's the same with clothes, old CDs, books, jewellery, scarves (I have a serious addiction), even kitchen stuff.

I started to trying to sort out my mass of clothes yesterday and found myself asking what a rational number of tops was. The answer, helpfully provided by my friend Grace, is if you actually wear them then that's fine. But there's no point keeping them if you don't. This sounds really obvious but sometimes it's difficult to detach yourself from the sentimental value. Are you likely to ever re-read that book you loved ages ago? How often do you even listen to CDs these days? You have seven mugs but you only ever drink one cup of tea a day, do you need the other six, even if they were presents? By decluttering your possessions you are one step closer to simplifying your decisions-making processes and freeing up your time to do more exciting things.

Decluttering your time 

Living in my new flat, I now spend at least two hours commuting every day. My working hours have increased meaning I'm in the office an extra hour and a half too. I'm working on improving my hockey club's communications and I've started umpiring as well as playing. Basically, I have a lot less free time and for someone who is trying to squeeze as much as possible into each day - it makes life a bit trickier. 

The first thing you can do is cut down the hours of sleep your getting. This is often the least popular option but you don't really need more than 7 hours sleep a night, especially if the first two are just having breakfast, getting dressed and going to work, and the last one is showering and chilling out. 

The second is making the most of that commute time as well as your lunch break. I will always read my work emails on the way in so that I'm ready to go once I get into the office. No one wants to work extra time unless they need to so being productive means you're more likely to leave on time. I often use my lunch breaks for personal chores too. Working through your lunch time if you don't need to isn't productive and it just means you'll have to find more time later to run those errands you needed to do. 

Spending less time glued to your phone will definitely help too. This can be really hard to stick to, especially working in social media. On the average day I spend about 60-70% of my day on the internet, not just at work but everywhere. I'm either messaging my friends, checking emails, using Citymapper or checking Facebook. Often it just out of habit rather need; It's so easy to get into that mesmerising trance of scrolling through Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest... Even LinkedIn gets me sometimes! But if you're not on there to find a specific piece of content, reply to a particular comment or post then don't get pulled in. Social media can be a real time waster - before you know it you've spent 10 minutes watching cat videos or doing some crappy personality quiz.

Decluttering your life

Ultimately, the best way to streamline your life is to decide on your current priorities. If you want to get a promotion at work, start a new career, learn to master a new skill, save money to go travelling or start eating healthily, you need to centre your time around this goal. Having too many goals at once is unrealistic and means you're less likely to achieve any of them. Whereas, if you focus on one or two, you'll find it much easier to manage your time and you'll feel a lot more positive about your progress. 

This might mean cutting down on things that you've enjoyed in the past like weekly drinks with friends or running three times a week. But being successful is about making compromises and no matter how much you want to, you can't do everything.


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