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Your Life, Uncluttered- 5 Steps to Simplify Your Life

by Mandy Martini Chihuailaf

Does it feel like sensory overload at home?

You know what I mean.

That frantic cleaning when someone just called you to let you know they’re on their way and you look around and it looks like a college guy’s dorm room.

No offense to them but you can’t have anyone see the mess so you toss everything into the closet or a random draw and begs no one will ever open it.

Yeah, I know you. I know you well.

That was me.

It’s been almost three years now since I first uncluttered my life.

It was not an easy task for me.

I used to be a little bit of a hoarder. Nothing crazy like you see on those hoarder tv shows but I would save any clutter that would get in my way. Material things were sentimental to me.
Like ticket stubs from different events and travels, even rocks. Okay, I still collect rocks from the beach, ssh. But anything that reminded me of someone or an event in my life, I would save.

I had a shoebox for every boyfriend I had ever had. Filled with random receipts and memory keepsakes.

Why? No idea, but I have a feeling I am not alone on that one.

I would get emotional by the thought of throwing something away. Even things that broke and was of no use at all.
If it wasn’t for this article being a memory recall, I would expect you to send help.
Like right now.


Ok, it wasn’t that bad but it really overwhelmed me.

What Pushed Me To Unclutter

Truth is I didn’t get motivated until I was forced to.

A lot of times we need something to happen for us to make a move or for it to spark our will to make a change. We go through life on auto-pilot, and it makes it hard for us to see the situation we are in. Like a toxic relationship or an unhealthy attachment to material things, or both in my case. The reason why I uncluttered was to leave my abusive husband.

It’s called an Exit Strategy. I knew I had to get out as fast as I could and it was not going to happen with all the things I had collected over the years. Yes, I could’ve left my clutter there but a lot of it was clothes and things that were useful and in good condition and what someone else could enjoy so I took it to a shelter for women and children in Downtown Los Angeles.

In my process to make this exit I found the book Minimalism, Live A Meaningful Life.
It not only introduced me to the lifestyle of minimalism, but it also gave me the perfect excuse when he got suspicious and asked what I was doing with all my things.

It taught me that living uncluttered and simple was necessary to find appreciation for what was valuable to me.

“Whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information.” – Michael Cho

I had never felt such a relief and clarity by getting rid of things I had been holding onto. My closet alone went from about 400 items of clothing to… drumroll please… 38 (!) and that was including my winter coats!

So Here Are The 5 Steps To Get You Uncluttered…

1. Keep, Reuse, Donate or Throw Away

Don’t overwhelm yourself, tackle one area at a time.
Start with your closet, a cabinet, desk or anywhere you prefer and don’t move to a new area until you’ve completed that one.

Separate into four different piles, things you want to…
or throw away.

If you are throwing away, consider doing a quick google search for where you can drop off for recycling. Textile/fabric recycling for example. Some cities in the states offer free pick up to recycle big piece items.
Before you throw anything away, ask yourself if you can reuse it for another purpose. A lot of my old, broken or miscolored t-shirts are now cleaning supplies.
Avoid using a maybe pile.
If you find yourself putting things in the keep pile out of fear of making the wrong decision, then put it out of sight and if you find yourself missing it during a period of a month then keep it.
But if you don’t, donated or throw it away. Or recycle.
Side note: If something is usable then donate before throwing away. One man’s loss is another man’s treasure, right?

2. The One In, One Out- Rule

Find yourself with not enough hangers or space?
Either something needs to go to replace the new item or you have to ask yourself the question, do I really need this?
Probably not.

3. One Touch- Rule

Whenever you bring something into your home, apply the One Touch rule. Especially when it comes to your mail.
Find where it belongs right away instead of letting it pile up in a drawer or on your desk.
Take action, file it or recycle it.

4. Designated Storage

Keep a designated box or drawer in an area you see clutter accumulating.
For example; a small storage box under your desk or a designated drawer in the kitchen. When you notice it filling up, just sort through applying the keep, donate or throw rule.
It’s important that the designated storage you choose is small so that sorting through the clutter will be easy and efficient and you don’t get back to your old habits.
And don’t cheat by using several designated storage areas.
I know you were thinking of it.
You only get ONE.
Maybe two if you are many in the same household.

5. Functional or Beautiful

When you are faced with a buying decision or a decision whether to keep or toss something, ask yourself these questions…

Will it be functional in my home?
Will it serve a purpose or a need?

Maybe it’s not useful in any way but it’s beautiful, makes you happy or it inspires you. Then keep it.
If it does neither then it’s a waste of your money and space.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Ok, your turn! Down in the comments, let me know what random thing you’ve been holding onto or collected over the years?


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