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20 Tips to Unclutter and Simply Your Life

Whether it is coding, sysadmin, or life in general, I like to keep things simple.

Don’t write a line of code that is not required, don’t install and configure something that is not required, don’t desire or collect things that are not required.

If you like to be free and simple, you need to start removing the clutter from your life.

Cleaning is not the same as uncluttering. You could be cleaning the same thing over and over again through-out your life without removing the clutter. When you unclutter, you are still cleaning, but you focus on removing unwanted things permanently from your life.

Over the years, I’ve taken a conscious effort to keep things simple. But, I’m not perfect and still learning. These should give you some ideas on what you could be doing to simplify and unclutter things from your life.

  1. Shoes – I used to have several pairs of shoes and sandals. Running shoes, tennis shoes, walking shoes, casual shoes, several formal shoes and sandals. Now, I’ve reduced it to the essential. I have only 3 pairs — tennis shoe, formal shoe and a sandal.
  2. Cloths – I’ve lost around 25 pounds in the last 5 years just by eating right and exercising. During this process, I’ve collected lot of pants in different sizes. I’ve donated all clothes that don’t fit me anymore. I also donated clothes that fits me, which I never wear them, or wear them only on special occasion.
  3. Delete unnecessary programs from your laptop. Installing several programs (especially on windows) adds lot of clutter on your system and registry. Some of them runs in the background and consume system resources even when you are not using them. Uninstall all unused programs.
  4. Clean desk – I like my desk clean. It has only my laptop. Nothing else. At work, you might also have a monitor, keyboard, mouse and phone. Everything else can go.
  5. Electronic Gadgets – We keep buying so many gadgets these days, as new toys keeps coming up every year. I took some time to collect all my old electronic gadgets (mp3 players, cd players, keyboards, mouse, etc.) and gave it away others who need them. The ones that are really old goes to the electronic disposal bin. I’ve still kept some antique working electronic gadgets to amuse my kids.
  6. Sports Gears – If you are like me who love to play various outdoor sports, you’ll definitely collect so many gears. But after the kids, I let go of all sports activities except tennis, which I love. But, I still kept those old sports gears that I don’t use anymore. Now, I’ve given many of them to friends who still play, and rest got donated.
  7. Wallet – I used to carry couple of credit cards, atm card, AAA card, and few others cards, along with some cash in my wallet. Several years back, I reduced all those and carried only few essential cards in a very slim wallet. Later, I even stopped carrying a wallet. I purchased a phone cover which has a slot in the back to insert two cards. Now I carry only my phone, which also has one credit card, and license in the back.
  8. Laptops – This one was hard for me (and still is). I have several old laptops and desktops. I love to install and play around with various Linux distros, and I need old systems for this purpose. I have around 7 old laptops at home with various configurations of Linux running on them. But, I did throw away few of those really old system that completely stopped working.
  9. Cancel unnecessary commitments – If you have any routine commitment that you attend regularly on an on-going basis, review those commitment, and see if they are still needed. For most part, we do those only because we’ve been doing it for years. Probably you don’t need to attend that meet-up every month. I don’t have much of these now-a-days, as I commit only to those that me or my family love to attend.
  10. Vehicles – If you don’t need the 2nd car (or motorcycle, or bicycle) that you rarely use, think about selling them. I used to do some routine maintenance on my motorcycle myself. So, I collected few accessories for these. Recently, I decided not to perform those myself, and gave all those accessories away.
  11. Books – Not long ago, I had two shelves of books. They all are gone now. I’ve reduced it to less than 10 books now. Everything else has been donated.
  12. Pictures and Videos – I used to have pictures and videos all over the place. But, not anymore. At the end of the month, I transfers all the pictures and videos from my camera to an external ReadyNAS storage, and to a cloud backup for disaster recovery.
  13. Documents – I don’t store any documents on my laptop anymore. All my documents are created and stored in Google docs. While it is easy to search and locate documents in google docs, I still try to maintain a clean simple folder structure and delete all unwanted documents on an on-going basis.
  14. Emails – Some of my friends have more than 5 email address, and they actively use all of them. Sometimes it might be hard to juggle all of these. You just need three email address– business email, personal email (for friends and family), another email for general purpose.
  15. Goals and Projects – If you are a goal oriented person, you might have several goals and projects on your list. While goals might help you to keep you on top of the important tasks and get it completed, having several of them is not helpful. My rule is to have only 3 goals (and projects) for the whole year. I make sure those are my big and important goals.
  16. E-delivery of documents – If you are still receiving paper mails from your banks, utilities,etc, sign-up for e-delivery and get those documents delivered to you electronically.
  17. Scan paper documents – You cannot get rid of physical paper mails completely. You’ll still get paper mails delivered to you for legal reasons from various vendors. Setup a system where you scan those incoming paper documents and convert them to digital on an on-going basis. As part of my weekly review, I do this on Sunday night, where I scan any paper mail that I received for that week and convert it to digital. The goal is to never receive paper statements if possible.
  18. Cameras and Camcorder – I gave away all my old camera and camcorders. I have one DSLR which also takes good video. When I’m not carrying around the DSLR, smartphone is good enough for taking pictures and videos. I still have the old 8mm camcorder tapes around, which I need to convert them to digital and throw those away.
  19. Create a schedule for uncluttering – Uncluttering is an on-going process. Identify any cleanup, organizing routines that you need to perform regularly, and add a recurring appointment on your calendar so that you don’t miss them.
  20. Clear your Mind – Of all the items in this list, if you want to get started on only one thing, this should be it. Our mind is cluttered with so many things. Some of those clutter are added by ourselves, and some of them are added by TV and other medias. To begin with, capture everything on your mind on a paper. For example, things that you like to do, things that are bothering you, things you like to change, etc. Review this list, and let most of it go. You really don’t need to do everything on your to-do list, you really don’t need to be worried about things that you can’t control, you really don’t need all things in life that you think you need. A mind that is not cluttered is creative mind.

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{ 26 comments… add one }

  • A.Baines August 20, 2013, 8:45 am

    This makes perfect since, Unclutter.

  • Ivan Lobo August 20, 2013, 9:14 am

    Very good this article, i compared with me, I had many shoes, almost 40 pairs and donated to other people that needed, today I have only 2 pairs and 2 sandals. I feel relieved now. I don’t buy many clothes, i’m not so vain, but i won clothes gift. My mother always say that I’m about to open a clothing store. Now I have to get rid of many gadgets like cell phones (obsolete), palm, printer, and others.

  • Sahil Sharma August 20, 2013, 9:31 am

    Fantastic suggestions. Superb.
    Thanks for these useful tips. I follow majority of these tips to make my life simple and uncluttered.
    Take Care. :)

  • Jalal Hajigholamali August 20, 2013, 9:37 am

    Hi,

    Very nice article and useful for good life

  • Jesús Ruiz August 20, 2013, 10:08 am

    Thanks for share your uncluttered ways of life. It’s very useful.

  • Bob August 20, 2013, 10:10 am

    Thanks!!! Good article

  • Mani August 20, 2013, 11:04 am

    Thanks for the suggestions, Ramesh! One question – a little curious to know your most recent system configuration :)

  • Arthur August 20, 2013, 2:20 pm

    The best article on thegeekstuff i’ve read so far ! Keep up the good work ! :)

  • Rajesh Singh August 20, 2013, 9:53 pm

    This is one of the best Article i have ever read.
    Thanks for your kind suggestion and making us to progress in our life,removing all those uncluttering stuff from our life.

    Thanks Ramesh for always guiding us on right way,and thanks for all these years been patiently writing so many articles.

    Best Regards

  • Amoghavarsha Nrupatunga August 20, 2013, 11:58 pm

    Nice article.. Keep posting.

  • Lev Lafayette August 21, 2013, 2:49 am

    I swear I am *not* getting rid of my books. A home that feels like – and is – a library is a beautiful and serene place to be. Add that to a garden and that’s the sort of “clutter” one needs. Twenty bookcases and counting…

  • Ponraj Kumar August 21, 2013, 5:39 am

    Good article, Thank you !!!

  • roko August 21, 2013, 11:37 am

    “Austerity” is the word here… good article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Imran Bhatti August 21, 2013, 8:26 pm

    Good article. Just adding to:

    E-delivery of documents – those documents that cannot be E-delivered and still important to keep, I scan them, store them on my NAS, and then shred the hard copy.

  • Aboyewa kayode August 22, 2013, 9:36 am

    I am going to find a way to forward this article to everyone i know

  • Amit August 22, 2013, 7:21 pm

    Very nice article … Good to know about ReadyNAS

  • Ethan Chang August 24, 2013, 4:52 am

    Good instruction.

  • JohnP August 27, 2013, 5:19 am

    Some great advice and some not-so-great advice.
    Google? Cloud?
    Both are bad ideas – you’ll learn that in time.
    So you gave away your suits because you only wear them a few times a year? Seems foolish to buy another $1200 suite just for 1 occassion a year. As I get older, more people are dying – need a suite more often now.

    Scanning docs is a complete waste of time. Out of the 200-500 documents we need to keep yearly, only a few times do we need to refer back to these. Stay on paper, put them into an expanding folder, in order by date. New folder for each year. Takes seconds a month to organize and a few minutes to find any doc you need later.

    I have a thin wallet, but not that thin – need the Costco card to get cheap gas. Also, I’ve been stranded when a CC failed to work, so I always carry 2 from different banks and different brands.

    I’m surprised you didn’t suggest owning 2 pair of underwear and no more. That would certainly unclutter things too. ;l) I have enough clothes to avoid laundry for weeks – seems like having that number of underwear is a good idea too. I’m probably wrong.

    Unclutter sometimes works against “Simplify” – we need to simplify our lives and unclutter when it makes sense.

  • zhiming August 29, 2013, 8:24 pm

    KISS- Keep It Simple and Stupid.
    It works for our daily life tool.

  • Tj August 30, 2013, 1:12 am

    Good

  • Gene Ricky Shaw August 30, 2013, 8:11 am

    I like the concept, but it doesn’t always work. When I try to install one program in Linux, I’ll often get “the following packages will also be installed” and it’s longer than the list of Jones’ in the phone book.

  • masood August 30, 2013, 9:08 am

    Awsome…thanks a lot.:)

  • Brandon August 30, 2013, 11:29 pm

    Great list of uncluttering ideas! I’m most inspired right now to go through my old electronics now. My clothes I already keep pretty uncluttered.

  • Mahesh dc August 30, 2013, 11:39 pm

    Really enjoyed this article. Really very useful for all irrespective of their profession. Thanks natararajan sir.

  • JesseV September 9, 2013, 7:47 pm

    Thanks for the great tips.

    I know I can incorporate most, if not all, of these tips into my life.

  • Eric Raio October 17, 2013, 3:08 pm

    This is an excellent article, I now carry my phone with only my debit card and license, where do you keep the other essentials such as health insurance cards?

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