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Time is Life

Your life is full of potential.

  It's time to reconnect with your priorities and decide to live a happier and more purposeful life.

 

 "Change happens in an instant. It happens the moment you DECIDE to change." ~Allyson Lewis

 

MEET ALLYSON LEWIS

There is a point in life where you find yourself standing still. You don't know why, but you want more out of life. You want more time.
Maybe you can relate to my story.

My purpose in life is to share hope.

Allyson Lewis Left 5 by 7 Headshot

Stop Living In Chaos • Create Order • Find Freedom

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If you perpetually struggle to meet deadlines then you most likely suffer from the time management problems of overcommitting, poor planning, or procrastination.  In this article I am going to lay out a five step path you can follow that will eliminate two of these problems: poor planning and procrastination.  You can learn how to eliminate overcommitment by reading my prior post, How To Say NO And Stop Overcommitting.”

For every significant project you have, you’ll want to follow five simple planning steps. Adhere to this path and you will almost assuredly hit your deadline every time.  But just in case, I’m also going to cover what you should do when meeting a deadline that looks unlikely.  Here are the five steps…

1)  Break down the project into stages and tasks.

For each stage or task, estimate the time you think it will take.  Keep in mind that seldom do things go as you plan.  So remember to include some margin in your estimate.  A surefire way to get yourself in trouble from the very beginning is to base your deadline off of an ideal time to complete tasks.  Also, keep in mind delays that will likely happen if responsibilities have to be passed between people.  For example, if one person must put together artwork for someone else to place on a website.  For each of these connections, anticipate some lag time.

AVOID THIS TIME MANAGEMENT ROOKIE MISTAKE: Failing to check for conflicts.  Check for conflicts with other major projects. Total up your time estimates and overlay the total time on a calendar. What will compete for your time, attention, and resources?  Are there any other big projects or goals that might divert your attention?  If so, pad your time estimate accordingly.

2)  Set your deadline and mark it in a big bright color on your planner.

Enough said.

3)  Set a start date and mark it in a different big bright color on your planner.

Counting back from your deadline, when do you need to start on this project?  Can you realistically start then?  If not, adjust your deadline before you even get started.  Setting start dates is especially helpful for projects with deadlines far into the future, i.e. annual goals or other long term projects.  Start dates also help prevent the most common time management struggle procrastination .

BONUS TIP: If you break your project into stages create sub-deadlines for the stages and, again, mark them clearly on your planner.

4)  Decide a review interval.

This is frankly where most people blow it.  I learned this lesson the hard way through my annual goals.  For the past several years, I have set multiple annual goals both personally and professionally.  Until this past year, my success was hit and miss. I crushed some goals, I never touched other goals.  There was no in-between.  That phenomenon ended when I established a weekly ritual of reviewing ALL of my goals every Monday morning.  Now I never leave a goal behind.  Many weeks I do not act on a goal by choice.  Even then I will note in my review, “No action taken by design.”

I would recommend a weekly review, but you could also review your project prior to monthly team meetings or at critical stages.  The key is that you REGULARLY review the project as it progresses on a PLANNED schedule.  If not, the project usually won’t get reviewed until it’s critically off course. Catching problems early, rather than later, is always beneficial.

What to do in your review:  Keep it simple.  Each week, I make notes about every goal.  I note what I complete.  If I didn’t do what I said I would, I try to figure out why.  My mistakes are usually obvious. Typically another project demanded my attention or I allowed my time to be nibbled away by lower priority tasks.  Using a 5 Before 11 list makes the latter one unlikely.  I then decide the action steps I will take in the coming week.

This review process reduces procrastination in two ways.  First, you don’t feel as overwhelmed when you are only considering what needs to get done during a single week.  Being overwhelmed is a primary cause for procrastination.  Second, the review prevents the project from being “out of sight out of mind”, another core contributor to procrastination.

5)  Make adjustments as needed.

If you get behind, you have four options:

  1. Adjust your work load so you can dedicate more time to the project. This may mean reordering your personal priorities or reducing activity on other work. For example, recently, I reduced the amount of time I spend on social media marketing to a minimum - what I would call a basic maintenance level.  That’s where it will stay until I finish another marketing project.  So decide where you have room to adjust.  What can be eliminated or put in ‘maintenance mode’, if you need extra time?
  2. Adjust the resources dedicated to the project. Can you call in a favor and get help? Can you hire extra help or outsource part of the project?  What can you do to get more people dedicating more time to the project?  Can you authorize or get authorization for overtime?
  3. Adjust your project. Did you overthink the project? What is a minimal, viable solution?  In other words, can you imagine a way to achieve the outcomes you are pursuing by pruning back the project to only what is essential?
  4. Adjust your deadline. In a worst case scenario, you may not be able to meet a deadline.  Only move a deadline as a last resort.  Moving deadlines is a dangerous precedent.  Each time you move a deadline, the less you and others will take deadlines seriously.

That’s it.  Just stick to these five simple steps and you can achieve your goals or projects on time nearly every time.  This time saving process works for me and I know it can work for you.


 

If you've found this article helpful, then check out The 7 Minute Life Productivity Starter Series. This series contains four free guides to help you identify your priorities, discover your purpose, set meaningful goals, and put in place a daily action plan to fast forward you to transforming your life into a life you love.  In just a few minutes a day following easy to implement step-by-step instructions you can take control of your time management.  Click here to receive the entire series for free.

I was standing in the church office talking to a friend who was using our copier.  He was a pastor, a licensed therapist, a spouse, and a father of two children.  He was busy to say the least.  I didn’t know how he could pastor a church AND manage a private counseling practice.  At the time the answer was pretty clear – not very well.

Standing at the copier, the weight of the world seemed heavy on his shoulders.  His eyes were full of weariness.  When I asked him how he was, he replied ‘Busy’.  Then he lamented, “I’ve got to learn how to say ‘no’.”

I half jokingly (and half not) replied, “No you don’t. You’re great at saying no.”  He looked at me quizzically. I continued, “You have said no to your health, no to your family, no to sleep, no to exercise, and no to eating well.  You are great at saying no.  You’ve got to learn how to say yes to the right things.”  It was a hard truth to hear, but he heard it.  I knew it to be true because I had lost sight of my priorities and been in the valley of over-commitment far too many times.

The Valley Of Over-commitment.

Living in the valley of over-commitment is horrible. You are burned out, strung out, missing appointments, turning in shabby work, and sacrificing sleep. You long for a mythical someday when life’s going to be better.  Usually that some day, that illusive promise land of free time and family time, is always just over the hill of a current commitment.  You placate your longing for that promise land by asserting, “Just as soon as school lets out”, “Once this project at work ends”, “When I am no longer chairing the fundraising committee”, or “As soon as we finish renovating the kitchen” life will be better.

Unfortunately, just before you can crest the hill, someone inevitably cries out from the valley of over-commitment, “Would you be willing to ___________.”  You are instantly torn. The summit is in sight. In fact, you are so close to the promise land you can almost smell the sweet oasis of leisure time.  You try to peer over the hill.  You scour the landscape for a good reason to say no.  Nothing jumps out.  So you say yes.  You’ve labored hard to get free, but you don’t enter the promise land.  You trod back into the valley chaffed by the weight of a cumbersome promise.  Resentment gnaws at your insides.  “Why, oh why did I ever say yes?”, you defeatedly ask yourself.

Why do you keep overcommitting?

Why indeed?  Why would you repeatedly say yes to things you don’t want to do?  Here are three mindsets that will trap you into saying yes when you don’t want to:

TRAP 1:  You don’t understand the difference between could and should

I am very versatile.  The are numerous ways I could help someone. I can do everything from being president of a board to fixing a computer problem to speaking at an event.  Being able to do something though, doesn’t necessarily mean I should.

So often when someone would ask me to take on a project, I felt obligated to say yes as long as I didn’t have a direct conflict or I couldn’t think of an immediate excuse.  Sometimes I would stall.  “Let me look into that” I would say, but I already knew I didn’t want to do it.  I just couldn’t figure out an excuse to tell the person.

You scramble for excuses when you aren’t clear on your priorities. If your priorities are clear, you don’t need excuses. You know where you want to spend your time and you can with a clean conscience say, “I’m sorry, but I have another commitment.”  Your criteria changes from could you to should you say yes.

For me, this epiphany came when a friend said, “John, self-care is a holy obligation.”  Those words came during a period when I was utterly overextended.  I was about to crash. It was as if I was on a plane going down and he was a flight attendant reminding me, “You have to put your mask on first.”

When I became clear on the priority of my health and my family over volunteering and work, I was able to give myself permission to say, “I am sorry, I have another commitment.”  I could do this guilt free even if all I planned on doing was staying at home with my wife and children.  That became an acceptable response for me.  It was not only acceptable, but wise and prudent.

The issue is that you have limited capacity.  You only have so many hours in a day and only so much of you to go around.  You can do almost anything, but you can’t do everything.  So one of the first steps to being able to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty is recognizing your limitations.  Each yes comes with an opportunity cost.  Overtime at work means less time at home.  Attending a reception you don’t care about means missing your work out at the gym. Staying late for a dinner party means cutting into sleep.  You get the idea.

When you become clear on the cost of saying yes, then saying no becomes worlds easier. You don’t have to come up with an excuse because you genuinely have a prior commitment.

TRAP 2:  You are a people pleaser

Another shortcoming in my ability to say no was being a people pleaser. I would worry that saying no would disappoint or anger someone.  If you are a people pleaser you need to embrace a few truths to gain freedom from the fear of disappointing others.

First, just because someone is disappointed doesn’t mean you are a bad person.  People sometimes have unfair expectations.  That’s their problem.

Second, sometimes disappointing someone isn’t avoidable.  When you have competing demands on your time the inconvenient reality is that you are left with a forced choice of who you disappoint.  Everyone can’t be a winner with your time.

Third, odds are that you are way over thinking people’s reactions.  Most of the time when I say no, the person asking me just moves on to someone else. He or she seldom gives my rejection near the time or thought I do.

TRAP 3:  You are overly responsible (or have an inflated ego)

Lastly, many times I took on responsibilities because I thought that if I didn’t, then no one else would.  Or, (and this is where the ego comes in) no one could fulfill the request as well as me.  If you feel that way, may be your right.  May be no one does take on a task you said no to.  Or, may be someone does it horribly.  But then again what if may be someone takes responsibility who actually does it better than you. Gasp—say it isn’t so!

You need to also consider this -- If you take on too much, who is going to sleep for you, exercise for you, parent your children for you, or be the best friend to your spouse for you.  Only you can attend to many of your personal priorities.

So how do you escape the valley of over-commitment and reside in the promise land?

Escape Step 1:  Give yourself permission to say no

First, you have to give yourself permission to say no.  That’s going to be a whole lot easier if you will embrace the three truths I laid out above, which are in short:

  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
  • Just because you say no, doesn’t mean you are a bad person.
  • Just because something may not get done, doesn’t mean you have to do it.

More importantly, in order to give yourself permission you need to embrace an unshakable picture of the promise land.  Your desire for your best interest has to be so clear that the cost of intrusive request will be unacceptable.  Then and only then will you say no easily and find it permissible.

Escape Step 2:  Have planned responses

You may have noticed in many scenarios I said yes, because I didn’t have a ‘no’ readily available.  Here is a simple formula for graciously saying no.

  1. Thank someone for the opportunity.
  2. Tell them no and cite another commitment or limitation.
  3. Say yes to helping them in another way if you can.

For example, if someone asks you to serve on a committee at your children’s school for an upcoming event, you might reply:

I am honored that you have asked me, but I have to say no.  Right now I have committed as much as I can volunteering at the school.  I could however post flyers at work for you to help promote the event.”

Or, if someone asks you to speak on a weekend you intended to spend at home, you might reply:

“I appreciate the invitation. I am flattered that you want me as your speaker.  I need to say no though.  I have been gone too many weekends and need that time to get some things done at home.  However, I would recommend you call _____________(alternative speaker).  He’s really great.”

Lastly, if someone invites you to an event you don’t want to attend, you may reply:

“Thank you for the invitation.  I have to say no.  I have another commitment that evening, but I would love to have coffee with you next week if you have time.” 

I have never had anyone push me on what my other commitment is.  Even if they did, it’s really okay to say, “I have been gone way too much and I need to be home that day with my family.”  Or, you can cite another high priority.  It’s even okay to say, “I have been way overextended and I’ve got to have a down day or I am going to crash.”  Sadly, most people can relate to being overly busy and needing down time.

Whatever your response is, keep it simple so you don’t give someone an opening for pushing harder.  If they do, hold your ground with a simple, “Sorry I can’t.”

Escape Step 3:  Take the earliest opportunity to escape

Never tell someone let me think about it, unless you truly need to think about it.  If your gut is telling you no, then don’t waste your time or theirs by stringing them along. Say no now. There is no value in procrastinating.  Otherwise, you will create an open loop that is silently running in the background.  This will stress you as an unresolved decision.

APPLICATION

Saying no is an essential of good time management.  With practice you will be able to do so more readily.  Take a few moments to do the following actions to prepare yourself to say no to distractions and yes to your priorities.

  1. Count the cost.  What is the cost of saying ‘yes’ to the wrong things?  Make a list of the things you are missing out on because of being overcommitted.  What will could be the long term impact of missing these things.  For example, lack of sleep.  Over time this could have a serious health impact on you.
  2. Picture your promise land. If you weren’t overcommitted what would you want life to look like? What would be an ideal evening?  What would be an ideal weekend?  How would you spend your time differently and what benefits would you experience?  Write as vivid of a description of these ideals as you can.
  3. Take a First Step out of the valley and into the promise land? What are three things you could say no to right now? What would be one small action step you could take to step away from something you don’t want to be doing?   Also, what are three activities you envisioned for and ideal evening or weekend?  What small action step could you take today to spend time in that activity?  Schedule these actions steps out of the valley and into the promise land in your in you daily planner right now.

p.s.  If you use the 7 Minute Life Daily Planner or the new iOs Daily Planning App, let your priorities, purpose, and goals from the invaluable resource be your guide for getting to the promise land.

Creating an effective to-do list is an invaluable time management strategy, but frankly most people do it wrong. Ideally, your to-do list keeps you on track and ensures you don’t forget something vital. Unfortunately, many to-do lists produce guilt and demoralize people. You knock off one item only to find three more popping up like some mythical beast trying to devour you. Your list doesn’t have to be that way. Here are seven reasons your to-do list is never getting done:

1. Your list is too long

Many people create a to-do list by making a list of anything they should or could possibly do. These lists are unrealistically long and overwhelming. Being overwhelmed causes you to work slower, procrastinate, or busy yourself with low value tasks that are accomplish-able but not necessarily highly productive. An overwhelming to-do list is actually a negative time management strategy.

To turn this experience around, make your typical everything-goes list, but NOT as a to-do list. Just create this list to brain dump any possible tasks. Getting these items out on paper will relieve stress, but only if you give yourself permission to ignore much of the list until you complete priorities. In fact, label this everything goes list as “Possible Tasks.” Use this list ONLY as a pool to draw from while creating an action plan for the day. I make one of these at the start of each week. Pull from it a handful of essential tasks that you can manageably approach for the day.  Work on these exclusively, first.

2. Items are not actionable

Many to-do lists contain items that are projects or ambiguous ongoing activities. For example, a project may be “Garden” or “Create Sales Presentation”. A better time management strategy is to list very specific actions that can be completed, such as, till the garden, plant the tomatoes, add fertilizer, etc. In the case of a sales presentation actionable tasks might include: write outline for presentation, gather sales stats from last month, or create the opening slides.

Ongoing activities are items such as: clean house or work on yard. Again, be specific by listing tasks with distinct, measurable outcomes; for example, scrub the children’s bath tub, vacuum each room, wipe down kitchen counters. Or in the case of the yard, measurable tasks might be: mow the backyard, edge the front walkway, or weed the flower bed by the deck.

The problem with ambiguous items such as “clean house” is that you can spend hours cleaning and still need to leave it on your list for tomorrow as if you never got anything done. This is life depleting. Create actionable items that you can check off. Checking off items empowers and energizes you.

3. Not delegating

How many items on your list could be done by someone else? If you have perfectionistic tendencies, you may cling on to too many items out of fear they won’t get done correctly by someone else. Or, if you have trouble asking other people for help, you may work unnecessarily on items someone else could do. In fact, someone else may do them better than you. Look at your list and consider how my items could be done by someone else.

When considering delegation as a time management strategy don't exclude the possibility of hiring someone to do a task for you. For example, I used to have many household repair items on my unfinished task list that would linger for months. While I could do many of these repairs myself, it was by far not the highest and best use of my time. In the long run it was worth every penny to get someone else to come in and make these repairs. Similarly, you can hire people for a very reasonable cost online for many virtual tasks, such as transcription services, managing customer service, email, etc.

4. Multi-tasking

If you bounce between tasks nibbling a little here and there on many things at once, then items will hover on your list forever. Adopting a habit of working on a single task at a time until completion is far more efficiency. Again, as you start checking off items, you will find yourself energized by the sense of accomplishment and closure that comes with every completed item.

5. Failing to estimate the time needed

When you create a to-do list, estimate how much time each item will take. You may be habitually underestimating how much time to allot. If so, you will overbook your day resulting in tasks carrying over to other days repeatedly. The practice of habitually writing down time estimates will cause you to be more realistic in your planning.

6. Not allowing for the unexpected

Life is unpredictable. Do not plan every minute of the day. Allow some margin by leaving a few gaps in your daily schedule. Use these gaps to deal with the unexpected or as time to catch up on tasks that get unavoidably delayed due to interruptions. Fail to plan for the unexpected and you can expect to be frustrated by not having enough time for all you planned to do.

7. Putting tasks for later on today's list

Once you create a ‘possible tasks’ list, categorize those items. What needs immediate attention? What can wait and for how long? A week? Two weeks? A month? Also, what tasks are simply unfinished tasks that have no specific deadline? Once you have sorted the items, assign a date to as many as possible. Tell yourself, “This doesn’t need my attention right now. I give myself permission to not worry about it as a to-do for today.” You will be amazed at how liberating it is to give yourself permission to postpone your attention. Psychologically the difference is huge.  You move from feeling out of control and overwhelmed into feeling in control and freed up.

 Application:

  1. Brain dump on a sheet of paper everything you can imagine that you need to accomplish. This is your list of possible tasks. You are not committed to any of those for today, yet.
  2. Mark the items that truly need attention today.
  3. Estimate the time you need for each item. Is the total time for these realistic? Keep in mind that you need to allow some margin for the unexpected.
  4. While I didn’t mention this above, prioritize the items for today, just in case you can’t get them all done. You want the most important items to get attention first. High value tasks can be part of a 5 before 11 list, i.e. five high value activities you will accomplish before 11 a.m.
  5. All other items on your “possible tasks” list, either delegate, place on an unfinished task list, or assign a date for when you will address them.
  6. You should now have a very limited and focused to-do list of actionable tasks for the day. If you use The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner or planner app, transfer your list to the appropriate spaces provided on the Daily Progress Report Pages and have a fantastically productive day!

Related Worksheets:

Unfinished Work Tasks

Unfinished Home Tasks

Daily Progress Report Pages

 

 

 

 

 

Are you struggling with clutter, especially paper? Procrastination? Disorganization? Are you ready to organize your life?  You can improve your personal time management by choosing to improve your personal organizational skills. In this 33 minute video Allyson Lewis from The 7 Minute Life  interviews Barbara Hemphill - one of the pioneers of the professional productivity and organizational industry. She will teach what to toss and how to organize what you keep.

This video includes time management and productivity tips on how to organize your life. Specific topics include:

- how to organize your desk at home
- how to organize your desk at the office
- what is clutter
- how can I get rid of the clutter
- can a professional organizer help me
- de-clutter your life
- physical clutter
- mental clutter
- emotional clutter
- spiritual clutter

This video on how to organize paper at home is packed with information bound to improve your personal time management, boost your daily productivity and organize your entire life.

For more information on Barbara Hemphill and her team of professional organizers, please visit: productiveenvironment.com

When you are a busy mom, the organizing demands are endless. Children's clothes, toys, schedules, homework and more can become a chaotic nightmare quickly. Without some organizing tips, you could easily be lost in a sea of clutter - scrambling to get everything done at the last minute.

To cut through the chaos we've researched and found 7 best articles on the organizing struggles busy moms wrestle with everyday. Each article is full of quick to apply time saving organizing tips.

The article on organizing kid's chores, is a post from my personal blog, The Practical Disciple that I wrote almost seven years ago. This very simple process, centered around a "chore deck", was an organizational life saver for us. I started it when my kids were in junior high and high school, but it works with younger children as well. We've never looked back since implementing this winning cleaning strategy. Since that time, numerous friends have applied and adapted it for a hassle free chore system with their children. By the way, while my blog is focused on people of faith, this particular post is just about carving out more time by getting organized. While my intent was to help people have more time for prayer, bible study, etc., this post will help anyone looking to reclaim time, have a cleaner home, and get their children in on the action of household chores.

Between my article and the other six articles, you will find literally dozens of actionable strategies.  The best way to use theses articles would be to first skim a couple and pick a few quick easy tips you can put to work immediately. Then bookmark this page and come back to it tomorrow or in a couple of days and grab a couple of more strategies. Keep it bookmarked and come back to this at least once a week for several weeks. There is so much valuable content and help packed into these seven articles, this one collection of articles could be your go-to guide for weeks on taming the chaos in your home.

  1. Organizing schedules:  Today’s Hint: 8 Tips for Managing Your Kids’ Activity
  2. Organizing homework: Easy Homework Tips:  A Better Way to Do Homework in 5 Easy Steps!
  3. Organizing meals: 15 Tips for Better Weekly Meal Planning
  4. Organizing children’s toys:  How to Keep The Toys From Taking Over
  5. Organizing chores:  More God, Less Stress, and Clutter
  6. Organizing kids’ clothes:  8 tips for organizing kids’ clothes
  7. Organizing kids' books:  10 Great Ideas to Organzie and Store Your Kids’ books

If you have a favorite time saving organization tip not included in these articles, please share it in the comments below.  Please, also share your successes to inspire other busy moms.


Sometimes as a busy mom, it is hard to know where to start because there is so much to do and only so much of you to spread around. That's where time management becomes essential.

If you feel that way, then check out The 7 Minute Life's Starter Guide Series. This series contains four free guides to help you identify your priorities, discover your purpose, set meaningful goals, and create a daily action plan to fast forward transforming your life into a life you love. In just a few minutes a day, following easy to implement step-by-step instructions, you can take control of your time management. Click the button below to get your free guides.

Click Here To Get Your Free Guides

Spring is the perfect time to do a little home organization by decluttering your life.  Decluttering will save you untold hours of time.  Each item you hang on to unnecessarily is a distraction that begs for attention or needlessly takes up space.  Also, someone else may need an item right now that you are clinging to in the hopes of someday using it.  While purging may be difficult at first, your going to love the freedom of time and space it creates.  Here are fifteen items you should eliminate right now.

1. Old electronics

Old cell phones, audio equipment, video equipment, gaming systems, answering machines, fax machines, printers, computers, and all of those cords, chargers, and connectors that you haven't used for months toss them.  Odds are you have chargers for devices that you got rid of ages ago.  While you are at it toss the related items as well:  VHS tapes, cassette tapes, cases, etc.  Check your area for electronic recycling programs or Best Buy stores recycle electronics nationwide.

2. Past Issues of Magazines

Seriously, how often do you look back at old issues?  Toss old magazines in your recycling bin.  If you want to see them repurposed, call your local school's art department to see if they would like them for art projects or a local church.

3. Unworn Clothes

Clothing can be tossed, brought to second hand shops, or donated to  charitable clothes closets.  If you have very old clothes or something unique like dance recital costumes, contact a local school or theater. They love items like these for costumes.  Consider finally letting go of those old prom, homecoming, or bride's maid dresses while you are at it.

4. Unnecessary Paperwork

Many paper bills are now superfluous as people shift to electronic statements.  For six simple guidelines on what to keep and for how long click here.  You can declutter much paperwork by scanning documents and doing away with the original.

5. Dried Up Pens and Markers

Go through your desk or other drawers toss any marker or pens that have dried up.  While you are at it, get pencils that are so old the erasers don't work.

6. Books

Unless you are prone to re-reading books, most of the books you have can likely be given to a local library.  Even if they already have them in their collection, many libraries have book sales to raise monies for the library program.  Any duplicate copy of a book or old phone book needs to go.  Also, if you don't use your new phone book, let it go too.

7. Out of date medications

Inventory your medicine cabinet and purge expired medications.  This should include both non-prescription and prescription medications.  Some medicines lose their efficacy over time or can cause an adverse reaction.

8. Board Games Missing Pieces

This includes jigsaw puzzles missing pieces as well.  If you're never going to play a game because it is incomplete there is no good reason to hang on to it.

9. Expired Foods

Scour the recesses of three places when you are purging expired foods: your refrigerator, pantry cabinets, and freezer.  You might also want to go through your spices.  Many spices lose their fresh flavor over times.

10. Old Makeup

Many cream products break down after six months and some cosmetic products like mascara can be a bacteria threat after three months.  Include in your makeup purging old bottles of nail polish.

11. Old Pillows

A broken down pillow can contribute to poor sleep if it isn't giving you the support you need.  One easy test you can perform to check if a pillow is ready to be tossed is to fold it in half.  If it stays folded when you let go, it's well past its lifespan.  Toss it out.

12. Old Towels

Do you have a linen closet littered with threadbare towels that you would never want company to see?  You can toss these towels or bring them to a local animal shelter.  They will be delighted to take them off of your hands.

13. Old Cans of Paint

Paint cans eventually rust resulting in air seeping into the can.  The paint skims over or dries out when this happens. Contact your local garbage collection agency to find out how to properly dispose of paint or other chemicals.  Paints over time can take up an inordinate amount of cabinet space that you could use for better home organization.

14. Old Greeting Cards

Are you sitting on boxes of old Christmas, birthday, and anniversary cards?  Keeping a few noteworthy ones might be good, but most of those cards can likely go and you will never miss them.  If you would like to give Christmas cards a new life, go to this link for seventeen christmas card craft projects.

15. Unmatched Items

Socks, gloves, or plastic containers missing lids should just be tossed unless you are going to immediately repurpose them for something else.

Apply it...

What if you tackled one of these suggestions everyday  until you were through the entire list?  Your home organization would dramatically improve with just this small investment in decluttering your home.


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