10 Smart and Efficient Ways to De-clutter Your Room…

The idea of living a minimalist, uncluttered life is one that many of us aspire to. We are willing to de-clutter our rooms, own fewer possessions, and simplify our lives so that we can have less to clean, less to organize, less to worry about, and more money to spend on the things that matter.

However, many of us feel like we don’t have the energy to de-clutter and often get stuck at where and how to begin. While it’s always tough to get rid of the “good” old stuff lying around our homes, it is possible to de-clutter your room with less pain than you might think.

Here are ten smart strategies to help you efficiently de-clutter your room, drawn from various experts.

1. Set aside a few hours to de-clutter and tidy up.

According to Washington DC’s organizing and de-cluttering guru Nicole Anzia of Neatnik.org, you should clean out and de-clutter your house a little bit each day. Refrain from setting aside an entire day to organize your whole house. Few people have the energy and/or focus to spend 8 hours straight tidying up, she says. Instead, allocate a few hours—just 2 or 3—on one project or room at a time. That way, you will be motivated to start de-cluttering and escape frustration and burnout as the day progresses.

2. Sort things into categories and discard everything that does not “spark joy.”

Sorting out involves arranging things into categories, such as things to recycle, donate, toss, and give to friends. Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” offers a simple and effective strategy for sorting out and discarding. She says discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service.

“Sparking joy” can be a flexible concept. But, according to Ms. Kondo, that which is itchy, or too hot, is certainly joyless. So is anything baggy, droopy or with a flared leg. She recommends that you hold each item in your hands and have a dialogue with yourself to determine if it sparks joy.

3. Assess what containers you REALLY need.

Avoid going out on a buying spree to get a ton of storage supplies before you know exactly how much stuff you are packing. All those pretty boxes, baskets and bins at the Container Store won’t do you any good unless they fit the space in the closet, on the shelf or under the bed. In fact, Ms. Kondo is adamant that you don’t need to buy any organizing equipment—your home already has all the storage you need. As for containers to pack things to toss away, grab a large trash bag and see how quickly you can fill it. You may even fill a few trash bags specifically for Goodwill.

4. Finish each task—completely.

This is a crucial step: once you have sorted things out in your room and decided where everything is going to go, put them there. Don’t stack boxes or bags in your room for later delivery or for disposal at a later date. Finish the task now. That is to say, take the boxes and bags out to the trash or recycling immediately. If you are giving something to a friend or donating something to charity, put the items in your car or make arrangements for dropping them off as soon as you finish the process. You have done such a good job of tidying up, why leave it unfinished? Complete the task fully!

5. Think vertically.

In small rooms, maximize the space by thinking vertically. For example, could you hang shelves above your desk for extra papers or books? Maybe you can hang some utensils on the walls to save space in the kitchen. New York City prop stylist Erin Swift is actually a fan of displaying everyday dishes against a well-marked chalkboard wall. She says the dark backdrop allows her to clearly indicate a home for each of the items and encourages others to help restock once the dishwasher is finished. Her advice: “Draw outlines of shapely pieces if you’re the artistic type, or just say it like it is, with words.”

6. Shred the papers.

Ms. Kondo’s de-cluttering instruction concerning papers is most liberating. She says you should just throw papers away. “There is nothing more annoying than papers,” she says firmly. “After all, papers never spark joy, no matter how carefully you keep them.” Shred sensitive papers, file important ones (if need be), and throw the rest away. You don’t really need most of the papers that you are keeping in your room anyway. Papers generally only make your room stuffy and unattractive.

7. Hang clothes—they look happier hung up.

Ms. Kondo proposes the agreeable technique of hanging clothes. She advises that you hang up anything that looks happier hung up, and arrange like with like, working from left to right, with dark, heavy clothing on the left. And she explains why: “Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure.”

8. Clear out your medicine cabinet.

Don’t forget to go through your medicine cabinet and discard outdated medicines and any other stuff in there that you don’t use, including outdated creams and ointments that you discovered don’t work on your skin. The fewer things you have in your medicine cabinet, the easier it is to find (and replace) what you need and the more clutter-free your room will be.

9. Create a tidy tub for all the “unfindables.”

Stuff that you use in different seasons like goggles, sunscreen, and bug spray in the summer and gloves, hats, and mittens in the winter can quickly pile up and clutter your room. Design blogger Benita Larsson suggests that you find a galvanized tub and divide it into discrete compartments using “walls” of foam core for the unfindables. Place the tub at a convenient place near the entry to your room so you can arrange your stuff for grab-and-go convenience at different times of the year and for different purposes.

10. Give away one item each day. 

Don’t think that once you have organized your room, you are done. You will need to create an efficient and logical system for processing and managing incoming and outgoing items, or you might find yourself forced to clean up another mess of clutter again a month later. Colleen Madsen of 365LessThings.com gives away one item each day and recommends that you do the same. Over the past several years, she says she has experienced quite a transformation simply by reducing her stuff one day at a time.

5 Exciting Ways To Spend Your Holidays…

So, the holidays are coming, but you don’t feel much enthusiasm about it. You have already been to all the traditional holiday destinations, tried everything offered by travel agencies and the prospect of yet another trip to yet another similar-looking location bores you out of your mind.

Congratulations – it is high time to try out something really exciting and new; the world still has a lot to offer!

1. Go Extreme

If lying on a beach or shooting selfies against the backdrop of all-too-familiar landmarks has acquired this ‘meh’ quality for you, why not go and actually do something? There are dozens of extreme travel activitiesavailable in all corners of the world, ranging from well-known thrills of bungee jumping and ziplining to more exotic pastimes like sandboarding and ice-climbing. Just make sure you are physically fit enough for these kinds of exertions and follow all the safety precautions – at least if you don’t want to get more excitement than what you’ve bargained for.

2. Take up a New Hobby

Trying out something new and having a good time doesn’t necessarily mean you have to travel far away from home. There are hundreds of activities that can bring excitement and novelty into your life – why notsign up for a course in one of them? Your vacation will be more than enough to master the basics of a new skill and have time to practice it. It may be something artistic, like floral design or crafting, or a physical activity you’ve never thought about, like bouldering, or just something far away from your usual circle of interests – and who knows, perhaps it will be a beginning of a new passion?

3. Throw a Party

If you don’t go anywhere during your holidays and know that some of your friends stay in town as well, you may liven up the time by doing something as simple as inviting all of them over and throwing a big party. Just make sure to organize it in a way that would turn it into a memorable occasion that both you and your guests will remember fondly for years to come. There are dozens of ways to bring an element of surprise into any gathering – organize a theme party, or think of an unusual menu, or ask guests to invite along people outside of your usual circle of contacts – just let your imagination run free.

4. Go to a Music Festival

Music festivals are being held all the time in all parts of the world – you may time your vacation with one held nearby, or travel overseas specifically to get to one. If you put your mind to it, you are certain to find something that will cater to your tastes in music and lifestyle.

5. Tick Something off Your Bucket List

A ‘bucket list’ is a list of things you want to do before you kick the proverbial bucket; perhaps you have one, perhaps you’ve seen the examples of them on the Internet, it doesn’t really matter. If you really want to do any of those things, why not do one (or more) of them right now, without putting it off any longer? There is no time like now, after all, and most things that we think would be great to do ‘sometime’ usually don’t get done at all.

With any luck, this list will show you that there is much more to holidays than usual routines repeated year in and year out. There is always space for something new, and there are always possibilities to spice up your life no matter where you are and how much you can spend.

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Travel Alone At Least Once In A Lifetime…

What if changing your life, and discovering who you truly are, is as simple as getting on a plane?

If you knew only three steps separated you from finding your true love or your true calling, would you risk taking the first step?

For many, traveling alone is that first step and the Internet is teeming with stories that bear witness to the life-changing power of traveling the road solo.

Here’s why you should experience solo traveling at least once in your lifetime.

1. You will be inspired to live a story worth telling.

Most people settle for far too little adventure in their life, and they choose existing over truly living. But as Anna Quindlen says, “The life you’ve had doesn’t have to be the only life you have.”

Nothing can remind you that you’re part of a much larger story than going solo.

2. You will learn there’s no Us and Them. There’s only We.

Everyone everywhere is essentially the same. We hope for the same things. We fear the same things. We want to love and be loved.

When you meet people you once viewed as “them” you realize that the differences between us are insignificant compared to what connects us.

3. You will expand your soul.

Most of our daily experience is confined to a finite, predictable pattern of places, people, and things. Pushing beyond our norm reveals a world is far more wonderful and unexpected than we realize.

Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.

4. You will own your experience for yourself.

No one can discover the world for you. You can read about other places, cultures, and people all you want, but you’re simply learning facts.

Truly experiencing life requires taking the ride yourself, firsthand. No one can live your life for you, and no else is to blame if you die unfulfilled.

5. You will learn to be more present.

The mind’s autopilot switches off when confronted with new situations and environments. The world comes into sharper focus when you have to pay attention.

Solo travel forces you to be aware and see the world around you, and not simply look at it passively.

6. You will gain new perspective.

We’re all accustomed to seeing only one side of any story: ours. Traveling alone opens you to experiencing daily life through another set of eyes.

There is no better way to learn about your own culture than to see it from someone else’s view.

7. You will turn your new perspective into a new way of living.

Many solo travelers return home with a new paradigm of the world and the role they play in it. They can’t un-see or un-learn what they experienced, which changes not only how they see the world but how they live in it.

If you want to be ruined for the status quo forever, the shortest path is a solo trip.

8. You will find freedom.

Our culture attempts to define what is acceptable as a “normal” or “successful” life. Most people live the life they think is expected of them.

Traveling alone reminds you that you have a say in the matter, and that the prison of expectations you’re standing in is locked from the inside…and the key is in your pocket.

9. You will learn to trust your intuition.

Modern technology puts a bottomless reservoir of data, facts, and figures at our fingertips. But it’s easy to use technology as a crutch.

Life isn’t about facts. It’s about knowing through direct experience and the most powerful tool that’s served man for over 10,000 years is instinct.

As you travel, you’ll sharpen your ability to read between the lines of situations and act with confidence.

10. You will realize that home can be anywhere.

Home isn’t a place, it’s a way of being fearlessly connected with yourself and others. It’s a moment when you’re willing to open your heart so others can truly see you.

And that can happen anywhere and everywhere.