It begins innocuously. You hang on to a pair of jeans that will fit again someday, financial documents from the 1980s, and business magazines you still intend to read. Before you know it, clutter invades your home and workplace and your storage space needs storage space. In addition to feeling physically uncomfortable, you get pulled toward the past, your energy is lowered, and even your weight may be affected.

I have always loved — needed! — order. Even so, I often find myself overwhelmed with stuff that simply isn’t necessary. In August, I went on a cleaning and organizing spree around my house. Before and after, my space reflected the state of my mind, spirit and body.

Returning to a state of simplicity can improve your professional and personal life, but it isn’t always easy. Even if you can’t devote an entire week to organizing your space, here are 5 practical tips for getting started:

1. Commit to 15 minutes a day – Take it slow. The clutter didn’t accumulate in one day. Don’t try to get rid of it all at once. Every day, clear off one shelf, empty one drawer – you’ll feel an immediate sense of accomplishment and feel motivated to continue.

2. Donate – Give away whatever you can. You’ll feel less guilty for acquiring unnecessary stuff in the first place. What’s excess for you may be needed by someone else. Your local shelter, Goodwill store, or school rummage sale will be grateful recipients. Also in the spirit of doing good, be sure to recycle your old office papers.

3. One-year Rule – Are you convinced that one day you’ll find a use for that knick-knack or that those jeans will fit? If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably won’t miss it. If there are items you are unsure about, put in them in a box with today’s date and check it next year. (The lifespan of legal and financial documents is often longer, so check before recycling those).

4. Ask for Help – Recruit a trusted friend or coworker. He or she won’t have emotional attachment to your possessions. Outside perspective can support you to make rational decisions about what to keep and what to toss.

5. Limit What Comes In – The most effective way to keep order is not to let clutter into your house or office from the outset. New jeans coming in? Old jeans must go out. Establishing a “One In, One Out” habit will stem the tide without active effort on your part and help you avoid difficult decisions later on.

Committing to just a few of these steps can help you declutter your home and office in minimal time. You’ll be amazed at the difference in your quality of life. When I let go of what I don’t need from my surroundings, my mind feels clearer, my connection to Spirit feels more direct, and my body feels lighter.

Have you managed to change chaos into order? Different personality types are attracted to different solutions. I’d love to hear what works for you! Comment here to share with the connect2 community.