Live Simply by Cleaning Out the Clutter

Clean up, live simply, be happy.

Matt Branhamby Matt Branham

The constant flow of emails, stacks of paper piling high and dinner plates filling the sink – all these things and more crowd your home, your work and your mind. Slowly, they become barriers, making it difficult to think strman relaxing, happy guy on couchaight, or think at all. Thus, it’s high time we start with a clean slate, dust off the cobwebs and open up a clear-cut path back to sanity. To do this, we must clean out the clutter, the things we have surrounding us that we don’t really need. Put simply: Live simply.

People grow attached to things of little use, whether sentimental, nostalgic or an identity that’s synonymous with the things nearby. All this does is crowd your space. To start the cleaning process, you need to ask yourself a few questions: What is it you need, like truly need? And what around you is there simply because you haven’t thought of a better place to put it or had the balls to toss away?

The books you know you’ll never read, the junk you store in stacks in your closet and convince yourself you’ll return to later, are all attachments to a previous period of life, one which no longer exists, meaning it’s time to let those things go once they’ve served their purpose. These are material goods that serve no purpose other than to crowd your home and workspace, and inevitably your mind. The only needs a guy should have are those that cover his basic habits, and everything else is just inessential noise, starting with those clothes you haven’t worn in years because they are ragged or no longer fit. But you intend to lose the weight and get back to those acid wash jeans, right? Wrong. It’s time to take steps at home and at work to simplify your life and increase your happiness.


There’s nothing worse than coming home from work or a trip and seeing things are a dirty mess. No joy comes from walking into that, let alone being hit immediately by the growing evidence that you need to fix the place up a bit. A man’s home should be a sacred place where everything in it brings him comfort, and things that bother him should be removed. Sure, take a moment to say goodbye to the doodles you did on a few bar napkins, but then move right on to the next.

If you don’t drink coffee anymore, yet have a coffee maker that takes up half your kitchen counter, try moving it into an empty cupboard and see if you notice it’s gone in two weeks. Even if you think you love it because it’s modern-looking and makes you feel adult, you can still bust it out for hangovers and after morning sex.

Likewise, if your cabinets and fridge are filled with curdled chocolate milk and moldy bread from last month’s stoner grocery shop, it is now time to clear the space and put fresh, edible things in their place. Instead of just pushing clothes and trash into the closet, take the time to go through your things and decide how much you really need to have handy, and what you can pack away in a box or possibly donate to someone who could make better use of it. Use boxes for trash and donation, get through the slush pile that is your home, then dispose and donate. When you’re done inside, you can get going on other areas like the garage, bathroom and, of course, your workspace …


It’s a wonder how you get any work done when it’s unorganized. In order to be timely and do your best work, things have to be readily available to you in a work environment. There aren’t enough hours in the day for shmessy officeuffling through piles of receipts, post-its and old work that has long been completed. Everything you need should be right in front of you, and little else. The less clutter you have and more visible your workstation’s countertop is, the better you’ll feel and clearer you’ll process your thoughts.

When it comes to work, it’s not as easy as your living situation to throw things out, though, as you may need to come back around to old business, receipts and points of reference. It’s good to save your work, too, both paper and paperless, as a measure of progress in whatever it is you do. Instead of discarding, it’s better to be very organized and have backups. Since we’re slowly becoming paperless members of society, it’s recommended you keep things saved and at least one backup hard drive, considering the fact that we’re not so advanced we can’t still spill coffee all over every important thing.

Whether you work from home or in an office, your work should be separate from your social and personal life. That means your work isn’t done where you sleep, and you don’t bring interns home to get them drunk being that they’re too young to get into bars.

Clutter is one thing, but segregating the parts of your life into clear-cut sections is important. Freelancers and self-employed men need to be able to distinguish between work time and playtime; otherwise, it’s just one constant mess. And people who bring their work home with them need to have a separate, clean space for after-work thinking, a space that doesn’t intrude on your relationships, meals or sleep.

If you’ve cleaned up your place without feeling like an overworked, underpaid maid, good for you. You should feel a little fresher just having done that. The key is upkeep, as the clutter returns with ease. Keep only what’s relevant in your life, live simply and hang an occasional picture of the family to remind you that you have goodness in your life and you’re not such a bad guy.

If you’ve cleaned up as much as you can, and it still looks like a war zone, call a real maid or get a neat-freak girlfriend. Or hell, invite your mother over for coffee since you love it so much.