Reduce stress by reducing your stuff.

You know you should. You know you have too much that you don’t wear or use. You know that if you get rid of some, you will feel peace. You are too busy to be bogged down with all of this. Simplify and feel better.

Since you are busy, you probably don’t have a full day to devote to purging. Instead, make a list of what area you want to start with this week. Make a home list and an office list. Focus on what is stressing you out, not on organizing and purging your entire life. I have a ton of emails that I could delete but I don’t care enough to delete them all; they don’t cause me stress.

Each day take 15 minutes to just work on purging one area. Start at the front of your office or home and move clockwise, one section at a time. Schedule this task on your calendar and set a timer. If you are competitive like me, try and beat the timer. If it is a big job, choose one part of it and beat the timer. This makes it more fun and less of a chore.

Most of us can improve in this area of our lives. When we purge we can find things more easily, experience less frustration, get things done faster, save time, and look more competent to others. And possibly the best reason of all—we lower our anxiety.

Below are some tips that might help you:

▪ Get rid of some things in your closets and drawers that you haven’t used in the last year.

▪ Consolidate and shred files.

▪ If you are not sure if you should keep something, ask yourself if you love it.

▪ Ask that friend/coworker who loves organization to help you.

▪ Get dividers for your desk so the paper clips, etc. don’t blend in together.

▪ Clear off your desk each night.

▪ Whether in the home or at the office, put the things you use closest to you.

▪ If a space is inadequate, take everything out and then only put back what you want to keep.

▪ Use containers for organization.

▪ Use under your bed for storage.

The key here is to focus on not adding more to the pile.

You might be thrilled to have an empty shelf in your extra closet and decide to buy more Christmas decorations on sale to fill it up. Don’t do it! Be mindful when you bring new purchases in from the car, and give or throw away at least the same amount of stuff each time. Just because it is a bargain, doesn’t mean you should buy it. Use the LOVE it technique. Do you love it enough to use it often? Or even look at it often? If not, maybe you shouldn’t bring it into your home.

This is not a task for tomorrow. Get started today with even one small drawer and you will begin to watch the stress of clutter melt away.

(Excerpt from A Delightfully Short Stress Relief Guide for the Busiest Women by Dr. Susan Harrison, available in ebook or print formats.)