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No more wasting valuable time! – or audio-reading..

Ever find yourself thinking – “if only I could make this train/bus/tram/…-ride a time that is spent a bit more beneficially for me…” or “I’m OK with cleaning up the kitchen and organising my stuff, but I feel it’s such a waste of my time, for it never stays clean and organised for more than several hours and has to be done again and again, and again…”

My solution to this problem is listening to books, news and interesting radio shows, while I’m on my way somewhere, cleaning up/organising at home or doing something that doesn’t require much thinking. Then the time is not wasted. 😉

Here are some audio resources I recommend:

Audible UK – my library includes the following titles:

  • The Real Purpose of Parenting
  • Bringing Up Bebe
  • Steve Jobs
  • The Law of Success
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • The Social Animal
  • Start with Why
  • Zen Habits
  • Zen to Done
  • Focus
  • The Power of Less
  • Blue Ocean Strategy
  • How to Stay Sane

The Economist

Freakonomics / on iTunes

Wired UK

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How to Declutter

The process of decluttering is actually very simple. There are just 4 decisions we have to make regarding our stuff on a regular basis.

4 DECISIONS:

  • keep it
  • trash it
  • donate it
  • leave it for later

By the way, one can apply this process not only to physical things, but also to relationships, commitments/projects, plans, ideas and so on (because ‘donate it’ can only be used with physical stuff, in some cases it should be replaced with ‘share it’). 🙂

Let’s look at the 4 decisions in detail:

  • keep it means:
    • keeping a physical thing: keeping this thing and assigning a ‘home’ for it – a place where this item can always be found when not used, where it ‘lives’ when not used
    • keeping a commitment: doing our very best in pursuing it, dedicating ourselves to it and making sure we enjoy it and it is good for us
    • keeping a relationship: keeping in touch on a regular basis
    • keeping an idea: doing something about it – taking it one step further
  • trash it means:
    • trashing a physical thing: literally throwing it away – all broken or unusable things should be trashed (if something needs to be repaired, it has to be done ASAP)
    • trashing a commitment: stopping pursuing it – we have no more interest/no more energy/nothing more to give, so there’s no point making promises we cannot fulfil
    • trashing a relationship: ‘unfriending’ someone on Facebook / deleting someone from the address book – usually it is good to do it if we communicated only once with someone or went to school together, but never actually talked to each other afterwards; – there is no point keeping up with people with whom we wouldn’t normally communicate – being aware of what’s going on with them or checking out their pages from time to time is like stalking 🙂 – also, people that already have more than 500 friends on Facebook don’t really care whether we’re friends with them, they can’t actually even keep up with all their ‘friends’: that’s just too many – idea: use Facebook for real friends/those that you’d like to share your personal information with; use LinkedIn for contacts that might be useful for our future career (so it’s less personal)
    • trashing an idea: deleting the info about it from our computers or physically trashing the sheet of paper where it’s written or just forgetting about it
  • donate it means:
    • donating or recycling a physical thing: donating to charities or recycling the items with the help of websites like Freecycle, Craig’s List, eBay… – more info on where to donate stuff: here
    • donating a commitment: sharing with others what you did and that you’re quitting, so there’s a spot opened (for example, if there was a limited number of participants..) – maybe they’d like to pursue it…
    • donating a relationship: for example, when moving to another country, some relationships become ‘obsolete’ – share the details of the practitioners that don’t have much space for new clients that we went to can be very helpful for our friends who live where we used to live.
    • donating an idea: sharing the idea with others – maybe they’ll find passion and ways to implement it…
  • leaving it for later means: making the above 3 decisions regarding some the items some time later – in 2 months, for example

Asking ourselves the following questions might help us make the right decisions:

  • What are the things that I use on a daily basis?
  • What did I use this week? – make a list of things we used can also help make a decision about what we really need on a daily basis
  • What are my necessities? – make a list of things that we need for particular activities: for example, bathroom necessities, make up, wardrobe, things needed for particular hobbies
  • Which things/activities/people make me happy/bring me joy? What/whom do I adore? – we should definitely keep those, definitely be in touch with those people often
  • What are the most annoying things/activities/people? Why are they still in my life?
  • Are there any things that are hard to get rid of? What are they? Why is it difficult? – find out how to deal with emotional things here
  • Why do I have this?
  • Do I use this item? Or is it for ‘just in case’? When did I use it last time? – read how to deal with ‘just in case syndrom’ here and here
  • Will I use it again? When will I use it again? At which occasion?
  • Do I have things that cost me a lot of money? Am I using them? – if yes, keep them – if not, get rid of them: sell/give away – keeping expensive (any) stuff that’s not being used brings emotional discontent – money has already been spent (it’s like ‘sunk cost’ in economics terms), keeping the item will not bring the money back, whereas getting rid of the item can bring a sense of calm, sanity, peace of mind (that’s worth much more than anything expensive IMO)
  • What does decluttering mean to me? What kind of result do I want to achieve? – Is it minimalist look? Is it arty look but well-organised? What is it? – we have to determine what we want for us, for only then would we know whether we’d reached our goal

I would do it this way:

  • get myself some boxes (if there aren’t any, buy some from IKEA or similar – this is not clutter, and they are fairly cheap)
  • do the first round of decluttering just by going around all the corners of my flat, through all the folders on my computer, through all the email and so on – and eliminating that obviously has to go, applying the first 3 decisions
  • take time to answer general questions above – a week maybe
  • do the second round of decluttering – this time really tough, in order to achieve the desired outcome
  • when achieved a decluttered life, admire this clean look, love the clean computer, enjoy fulfilling and meaningful relationships, focus on projects at hand – invite guests more often 🙂

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RESOURCES – HOW TO DECLUTTER

Organise with Evernote

Organise your thoughts, plans, ideas, documents electronically in Evernote – ‘Remember everything’. Access from the computer, mobile app, iPad app.

I use it for:

  • storing articles that I might want to read in the future – in word/pdf/photo formats (I will eventually upload them to google doc’s)
  • storing my travel and hotel booking information to have it on my iPhone easily accessible in electronic (paper-free) format when we travel
  • storing recipes with pictures
  • shopping lists + pictures
  • notes from books/blogs/articles
  • writing down thoughts/answering questions for myself

Check out Evernote website and find out about all the things you could do with this tool. It can be used for anything. 🙂

Note: after following someone’s advice to divide my activities by projects, I had also divided all my notes by projects/areas of my life. Some time later I found this not as useful as it might seem to be, for some notes correspond to several areas/projects, and such division makes it more difficult to locate a particular note. That is why now I am distinguishing notes just by names: I put all the important info in the name of the note (the main key words in the beginning make it easy to find the note alphabetically) and I make use of a search function.

Hope you find Evernote useful too. 😉

Organise with WorkFlowy

Organise your projects with WorkFlowy.

This online tool enables us to keep track of our notes in organised lists – accessible from anywhere where there is internet connection.

So far I have been using WorkfFowy to:

  • plan my trips – keep track of my ideas, of places to visit, of links to those places/restaurants and other useful info for travelling…
  • outline my blogs – write down ideas, plan topics, keep useful links organised…

I intend to put all my projects and task on to WorkFlowy – I find it very useful.

Note: the creators advise us to use tags in our notes, but I personally don’t find it useful, for it’s very easy to search the notes using the ‘Search’ function in the top left corner of the web-page.

I hope you find WorkFlowy useful too. 😉

Organise Magazines

Let’s start with them.. 😉

I have LOTS of magazines, and finally I’ve decided to declutter & organise them. So I’d like to share with you what my plan for dealing with them is.

I used to be or am still subscribed to different magazines. I haven’t been reading much from them though… So eventually, now, I’ve accumulated so many that, although my plan has been to read them through and to write out all the important suff, it’s become rather intimidating for me to do anything about them at all. I haven’t touched most of them for more than half a year… Well, I’ve been pretty busy, but I also didn’t really know where to start… 🙂

This doesn’t sound or look good to me anymore. So this is what I’m doing:

DECLUTTER

To eliminate unnecessary magazines,

  • ask yourself the following questions to determine why they are there in the first place:
    • What’s my plan regarding them?
    • Do I need them for work? for reference? for entertainment? as decor? for studying?
  • depending on the plan and purpose, do the following:
    • look through them, identify the articles of interest
      • if you need them for work/reference – take pictures of or scan the articles and/or find them online to store them on you computer, get rid of paper versions
      • entertainment/decor – get rid of most, leave the latest several issues or the most appealing-looking ones in a designated spot
      • studying – leave them in a designated spot, if they’re not in such a spot already
  • do the above for a particular amount of time: for example 2 hours now, then again 2 hours some time later – until you’re happy with how many physical magazines you’ve got
  • ideal would be to upload all electronic versions of the articles you’ve saved on to google docs or similar – to declutter your computer and to have access to the articles wherever you are
  • read the articles when you fancy or it’s needed or planned for work/study/reference

ORGANISE

To keep your magazines in order:

  • follow one in – one out rule: as soon as you get a new issue of one magazine, the old one has to go. One reason for this would be, if you need some article from the old issue (which probably isn’t likely, for it becomes outdated, unless you’re a fan of history…), you can always find it online (definitely if you’re subscribed to the physical issue), for most publishers make the old issues available online even for free as soon as the new issue comes out.
  • if needed for reference/work, name your electronic versions with key words, including the subject matter, purpose and maybe date
  • regularly upload on to google docs

But also consider: if you still haven’t used some of the articles for several months (decide for yourself how many, for me it’s 3 months), then just delete those files – there’s so much info around us and it’s so easy to find answers to our questions: just google it! – we don’t need clutter in our homes or computers, or even on our online accounts 🙂

And remember, when you’re done with as many steps as you’ve decided to take at the time, enjoy the uncluttered space, embrace the tidiness and orderlove it and be very-very happy for yourself and appreciate your efforts. 🙂

So, this is my way to declutter & organise my magazines.

***

I’m in this process now and already quite happy with the results that I’m getting – I have:

  • electronic versions of article that I might want to read (I just need to name them and upload on to google docs)
  • a pile for elimination, scheduled for the 21st March 2012 (when paper collection comes)
  • a stack of magazines in designated spots – for learning: German and Spanish
  • a plan to review my electronic versions in 3 months – on the 2nd June 2012

***

Contact me if you need my help to organise your magazines. 😉

***

Thank you for reading! Let me know in the comments whether it was helpful (I hope it was). 🙂

Decluttering & Organising

WHAT IS DECLUTTERING?

Decluttering is a process of eliminating things that we don’t need – out of our lives, out of our homes, out of our computers, out of our inboxes and out of our heads. It leads to simplification of our lives as well as to the state where we feel liberated and free to achieve anything – everything that we would like to achieve, for there’s nothing left to stop us: no clutter, no junk!

Decluttering is a lifestyle. Once started on this journey, we never stop decluttering our lives further, for in order to maintain uncluttered space and state of mind, we need to continuously ask ourselves one question: CAN THIS BE ELIMINATED?

WHAT IS ORGANISING?

Organising is a process of arranging our commitments, belongings or life in general in the most effective way.

Being organised means having an easy access to all the things we need, never forgetting commitments or things, keeping promises – and doing it all in a calm and relaxed manner – never rushing or being stressed out. When we’re truly organised, we know exactly what, when, where, how and with whom we are supposed/or have chosen to do, and the surrounding environment effectively assists us in all our undertakings.

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WHY DECLUTTER?

I believe that only by decluttering – by asking the question “CAN THIS BE ELIMINATED?” – by challenging our every actionobjectproject, or commitment – can we decide and determine, what’s truly important for us. And then – FOCUS on it.

So, decluttering is something that frees up our space and minds, letting us focus on what’s important for us and in turn achieve our goals and dreams.

Sounds cool, doesn’t it?.. 🙂

Check out others’ thoughts on WHY DECLUTTER?

WHY ORGANISE?

Do you want to know exactly what, when, where, how and with whom you are supposed/or have chosen to do? Do you want your environment to effectively assist you in all your undertakings? Then I guess it’s quite clear what effective organisation can do for you. 🙂

HERE’S MORE:

I believe, decluttering and organising go hand-in-hand.

Becoming truly well-organised is only possible together with decluttering. At the same time decluttering alone won’t bring as much order, harmony and peace as it will when the stuff that’s left after the elimination process is well-organised/arranged.

And so, by decluttering and organising our ‘stuff’ (life, environment) we stop focusing on ‘stuff’ and start focusing on important things, achieving our goals and dreams systematically.

Wish you achieve all your dreams, especially those that are the most important to you! (Sense the irony? C’mon! Why would you actually bother doing something that’s not important?) 😉