It's easy to let things pile up when you're stuck in the daily rat race, both physically and metaphorically. So once in a while, it's a good idea to take stock of your life, especially on occasions like the new year, a birthday, or an anniversary.
But how do you start? What do you do exactly? These tools will guide you to organize and declutter your life.
1. Balance Through Simplicity (Web): Decluttering Workbook and 30-Day Challenge
At her blog Balance Through Simplicity, writer Antonia offers a variety of ways to declutter your home and keep it that way. Through a series of blog posts, you'll learn about the different types of clutter and how to deal with them, what to do before and after a decluttering spree, and how to decide what to keep or get rid of.
A good place to begin is with her Declutter Starter Kit, a free guide and workbook to organize your home. It's a systematic approach that first makes you question why you are doing this activity and set some goals. The guide is only 19 pages long but offers practical tips on going step-by-step through different aspects of your life, from physical spaces to things like your finances and paperwork.
If you'd prefer to do a little at a time instead of going on a decluttering spree, try Antonia's 30-Day Declutter Challenge. Each day, you'll have a new task (some are recurring) that gets rid of unwanted artifacts in some space in your home or life. By the last day, you should be in a much cleaner space.
2. FlyLadyPlus (Android, iOS): Organize and Clean Your Home by Zones and Days
Marla "The FlyLady" Cilley has been advising about house-keeping and home organization for years to anyone who wants to keep a tidy home. FlyLadyPlus is an app based on all that advice that helps you organize and clean your home by dividing it into different zones and doing them as daily or weekly tasks.
At any point, you'll have three active zones for the week. Each zone (like master bathroom, closet, entrance, bedroom, etc.) has multiple tasks already suggested by FlyLadyPlus. If any of them don't fit your life, or you need to add new ones, you can easily edit this to-do list. The objective is to finish all these tasks within the week, and it's up to you when you do them. The next week, you'll get three new zones, thus ensuring your house is always organized with this rotating roster of tasks.
Apart from that, FlyLadyPlus has daily and weekly routines for recurring tasks. You can set a series of tasks and divide them into morning, afternoon, and evening routines, so that you know you never forget a must-do item.
You can track your progress with FlyLadyPlus's statistics. The homepage also has a few thoughts from Cilley from her blog, and the popular Ask FlyLady Q&A column with the advice she gives to readers who write in.
Download: FlyLadyPlus for Android | iOS (Free)
3. Get Rid Of It (Android, iOS): 30-Day Decluttering Game by The Minimalists
Get Rid Of It (GROI) is a 30-day decluttering game to play with friends that promises to make you more minimalist. It's based on the Minimalism Game by popular decluttering and organization experts, The Minimalists. The idea is to get rid of one thing on day one, two on day two, three on day three, and so on.
As The Minimalists note, the game is best played with a buddy or a group so that you keep each other honest. The GROI app encourages you to take a photo of whatever you discard on the day and write a short note about it. These notes can help you reestablish your decluttering goals, almost like a journal.
In case you're stuck and wondering what to throw away, GROI also features a section of tips from The Minimalists about how to look at your stuff in a new way. And of course, you should share your progress on social media because it's proven that publicly showing your progress makes you stick to habits.
If you like the idea of a daily task challenge, but getting rid of so many items seems daunting, then you might want to try out TOSS. It's one of the best decluttering apps that gives you one new decluttering task every day.
Download: Get Rid Of It for Android | iOS (Free)
4. ByeBye (Android, iOS): Take Inventory (With Pictures) of Everything You Own
How are you going to declutter and organize without knowing what you have? ByeBye is an app to take inventory of everything you own and arrange it into neat lists, complete with pictures and your thoughts on each item. Once you have your collection, you can quickly refer to it to avoid duplicate purchases and other wasteful excesses in the future.
For each item you add, ByeBye asks you to note its price, how many units you have, add labels, choose a purchase date, and take a photo of it. There's also a space to write a story about the item. And in case you don't like it, tag it as a "Regret" to ensure you don't buy something similar again or actively try to get rid of it.
ByeBye also works as a social network, and you can browse through others' inventory lists too. This way, you can add items to your wishlist, make friends with people with similar interests, and even sell, swap, or donate stuff through the built-in marketplace.
Download: ByeBye for Android | iOS (Free)
5. ClutterBug (Web, YouTube): Quiz to Find Your Organizing Style
Cas Aarssen, more popularly known on YouTube by her pseudonym ClutterBug, always struggled with organizing and decluttering advice given online. As she tried to tidy up her life, she discovered four organizing styles based on your personality. Take her ClutterBug Quiz to determine whether you're a bee, a ladybug, a cricket, or a butterfly.
It's a simple multiple-choice quiz that asks about your preferences around the house. In the end, you'll land on one of the four styles, along with a video from ClutterBug's YouTube channel about how to set a system that suits your style. This is key, Cas says, as trying to adopt an approach that doesn't fit your organizing style is where most people give up, and clutter takes over.
You'll find plenty of other excellent material throughout the site. For instance, there's a free 30-minute mini-course to get organized in every way. Cas also shares an extensive collection of free (and some paid) printables to help you arrange everything in your life and home. And the YouTube channel hosts videos with practical advice on better home management.
Use the Rule of 5 Rs
The main aspect of being organized and decluttering is knowing what you don't need. If you're a beginner, many minimalism and decluttering advocates recommend using the zero waste movement's Rule of 5 Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. Read Consciously Caleigh's post to know more about this and how it can help you get rid of junk.