Organize: Declutter Your Everyday Life

sasha kretova office

For the past two years summers have been the best time for decluttering for me. Last year we moved apartments and the process of packing as always included getting rid of lots of stuff and it felt so freeing. This year as soon as summer started I got the decluttering vibe back. I sold and donated lots of clothes, rearranged furniture to free up space and sold the furniture we didn't need. I'm learning to be very strict with myself about keeping things: I really think about the value an object is bringing to my life and how my life would change if I didn't own it. Lots of things leave our apartment after I approach them this way and I feel much more free and relieved afterwards.

A few weeks ago I started a completely different type of decluttering. I was thinking about how much time is spent on things that don't matter at all and how much non-physical stuff (digital clutter) is out there a lot of which we own and keep or just consume on a daily basis. When you start thinking about these things the same way as about the physical clutter: what is the value and how would my life change if I didn't own/consume it, it becomes quite eye opening. So I got pretty strict with myself again and here are the things I did:

1. Get rid of social media news feeds

Do you use Facebook news feed for procrastination purposes? I surely do. And even when I am super organized and don't let myself get distracted by it during my work hours, I still spend loads of free time reading the updates. I don't have the urge to catch all the entries in the feed, but I still do consume lots of information on it. So I started thinking, how much of that information is really beneficial for me? How important is it for me to see wedding photos of someone I haven't spoke to since high school? How would my life change if I didn't see those updates at all? You probably guess what happened next. I got rid of Facebook news feed without any doubt. I didn't really want to sacrifice any more of my time for something that is not important. I didn't want to completely go off Facebook, it's a great tool for connecting with friends and family as well as my customers through my business page. I used a plugin for Chrome called News Feed Eradicator, that hides the news feed when you open Facebook and displays an inspiring quote instead. Now I have nothing to get distracted by, so whenever I get on Facebook I go straight to doing what I came for: replying a message, updating my business page or searching for information. I still get all of the notifications if someone invites me to join a group or an event. Feels pretty liberating and to be honest, I kinda grew to like Facebook much more now.

If you would like to get rid of your news feed, but keep getting news from your favorite businesses, blogs or organizations, you can go to their page, click "Liked" button (or click "Like" first if you haven't yet) and choose "Get notifications". That way you'll be notified about the updates from your selected pages.

You can use similar strategies to get rid of parts of other social media that take up your precious time. Think about what you spend a lot of time doing on those platforms and how those activities benefit your life. Think of what you would miss if you didn't do those activities. Then research on how you can get rid of those functions of that platform without deleting the whole profile (or you might even end up deleting it, if you find the whole platform unnecessary).

2. Unsubscribe from unnecessary e-mail lists

When Gmail introduced "Promotions" tab in their inboxes it helped lots of people to deal with all their unnecessary newsletters: they just ignore them by not even opening the tab. I like to subscribe to some newsletters though: brands I really like, promotions I might use or anything else that I find to be valuable information. Recently I realized that those messages are just a small percentage of all the newsletters I get. So I end up deleting messages from my "Promotions" tab regularly digging for the ones I'd like to keep among all that junk mail. So I made a new rule for myself: before hitting "delete", open and hit "unsubscribe" first. Now every day I get less and less e-mail and soon it will be just the ones I enjoy reading!

3. Delete unnecessary social media apps from your phone

Actually I'll rephrase: delete all unnecessary apps. But start with social media ones, or at least turn off those annoying notifications that keep you glued to your phone. I love how Facebook has separate apps for different activities: messages, pages and so on. I used to get annoyed by having to open separate apps. But after getting rid of my news feed in the desktop version, I decided to delete the Facebook app completely and only keep the Messenger and Pages app. Now I can still be connected anywhere any time, but I'm not wasting my time on reading the updates. As I mentioned earlier, in addition to that I went through all the apps I had on my phone and deleted everything else I didn't really use.

One thing I kept was instagram. I love instagram, it's so visual and inspirational. But I did go through the list of profiles I'm following and unfollowed the ones that don't inspire me or bring me any value. No old classmate wedding photos!

4. Plan your free time

So now what do you do with all that free time you have if you are not spending it on catching up with everyone else's life? You plan your free time! However much free time you have every day, decide beforehand on what you'll do with it. Do the things you enjoy, things that inspire you. Spend time with your family or people you love. Cook good food instead of eating take away. If you have a break at work, go for a short walk or talk to a new colleague you haven't had a chance to properly meet yet. Whatever it is, think about the little things you can do that will improve you life and provide value, the things that really matter.

5. Have an activity planned for "bored" time

How about the time when you're just bored and need something to kill time with? Waiting in line, riding a bus, waiting for your train to arrive. The answer is the same magic phrase: plan that time. Have a book with you to read, a notebook to sketch in, music or audiobook to listen to. You can even get creative and come up with new traditions for some short quality time with people you don't get to connect with as much as you wish. For example, call your mom every time you're riding a bus or train or send your loved one a sweet text with one thing you love most about them.

And if there's a time when you feel so tired you just can't do anything, use that time to really do nothing and give your body some rest. Don't open your instagram feed to just browse for a few minutes. Sit down, have a cup of tea and relax. Your body needs that and it will get much better rest if your eyes are not staring at a screen.

How do you declutter your daily activities and routines? I know, this post was mostly about digital and social media clutter, but that's what I felt involves most of my unnecessary activities. Are there any other habits you'd like to get rid of to free up time for things that really matter? Please, share in the comments!

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