Ahhhh January….a time when we clean, clear and look for fresh starts, December tends to be a month of excess: gifts, food, outings, drinks, and spending. This means that by the time January rolls around, we are feeling overwhelmed and constrained. Maybe our house feels like it’s closing in on us because of the extra gifts or decorations from the holidays. Maybe our body feels constrained in the clothes that fit in November but, because of the extra eating and drinking, are no longer as comfortable. A lot of the New Year’s resolutions we set have to do with clearing out things that constrict or constrain us: extra weight, extra spending, extra drinking, etc… As a coach, I strongly encourage this because clutter in our physical life clutters our brain. What’s going on around us affects what’s going on inside of us Click To Tweet.
First let’s look at the WHY…
Why does having less make our life so much more?
Quite simple actually.
The less we own, the less we think about.
The less we own, the less we need to clean.
The less we own, the less we need to organize.
The less we own, the less we need to upkeep.
The less we own, the less decisions we need to make (which white tee to wear).
Essentially, the less it weighs on our mind. The less clothes, table cloths, or kitchen gadgets, we have, the less we have to think about which to use.
The more you have, the more decisions you need to make. Click To Tweet
Consider your morning decisions: Do I wear the blue, purple green, pink or red sweater today? Okay, green. Well then, which green one? The cardigan? The cable? The ruffly sleeved? The one with the stain? It may seem trivial but it’s not. We wake up with a limited amount of mental energy and a certain number of decisions that our brain is able to make. If we use our decision making power on our sweaters, it is not available for bigger decisions during the day. Minimize the decisions you need to make on routine things by minimizing the things you have.
Now let’s look at the HOW. Here are some simple ways to clear clutter from 5 areas of your life:
Bedroom: Which of your clothes do you actually wear? Which are you saving for some odd reason? People either save things for two reasons: (1) Future or (2) Guilt. First, if you hear yourself say: “maybe one day” or “what if…”, that means you’re saving it for the future and, in my rule book, that means that goes in the bag for goodwill. If you’re saving it for when you lose those 10 lbs, get rid of it. When you lost those 10lbs, you’ll want to wear something else and looking at it reminds you of a goal you haven’t achieved (not great for the self-confidence). If you’re saving it because “maybe one day” you’ll get invited to that garden formal event where that dress would be perfect….again, goodwill bag! If/when you do get invited, you’ll want to wear something different. Bet. The second reason people save things?Guilt. So many of us save things because someone gave it to us or it cost a lot. If you’re saving a sweater that your Aunt Molly gave you and (gasp) what would she think if you got rid of it, ask yourself when is the last time Aunt Molly has looked in your closet?! It’s eating up mental space in your world. If you’re saving it because your dead Grandma gave it to you. Take a picture of it, feel warm and cozy for her gesture, and….get rid of it. If you’re saving something because you spent an ungodly sum on it and have only worn it once (or not at all), get rid of it. Get rid of it. Looking at it reminds you of a poor decision you made (it’s not necessary to continue to beat yourself up) and someone else will love it. Live, Learn, Donate.
Kitchen: How many can openers do you need? Serving spoons? Getting a divorce was one of the best things that could’ve happened for my clutter. I left my house with very little and so, when purchasing new for my rental, I didn’t buy 12 serving spoons to replace the 12 I left with my ex. Instead, I bought one. One serving spoon. One spatula. One cookie tray. One set of tongs. When I needed more, I would either buy more or figure out how to make do with just one. Look around your kitchen. How many cook books do you really need? When I want to make something new, I usually open google, not a cookbook. How often do you really use that mini bundt loaf pan? What’s on your countertop? What do you use weekly? Put away or get rid of the rest. Clutter on your countertops clutters your brain. Truth. When in doubt, throw it out. Click To Tweet
Phone: Yes your phone. Which apps do you have on your phone? Which do you use daily or weekly? Get rid of the rest. You do not need further reasons to get on your phone. Do you have Facebook on your phone? Here’s a worksheet I’ve given clients that helps clarify whether to keep the FB app on your phone or not (I vote NOT). Further, if you’re an adult, you do not need more than one game on your phone. Your days will be happier if, instead of looking to your phone for joy or entertainment, you look up and find it around you.
Meals: Simplify your meals. Choose one breakfast to have on weekdays and one for weekends. That way, when you go downstairs you don’t waste mental energy thinking: What will I have for breakfast this morning. Instead you think: get out spinach, get out eggs. Go. This also helps with maintaining or losing weight. Instead of making the decision about what to eat in the moment that you’re hungry or surrounded by temptation, you have already made it. Same with lunch and snacks. The more you make a decision ahead of time, the less you’ll eat impulsively. Choose something that works well for your body and energy and do that. Decide and do.
Wallet: This isn’t about clearing the actual clutter in your wallet (though if you have a wallet like George Castanza, please do!). This is about PROaction. Clearing your wallet is about NOT buying shit you’ll need to clear out of your home later. Which stores tempt you? Don’t go in. Which catalogs tempt you? Stop them from coming to your house with one of these links. When in a store, ask yourself: Do I need this or want this? I have a rule that, when shopping online, I keep things in the cart for at least 24 hours before purchasing. If I’m in a store and I want something I didn’t go in for, I wait a week to purchase. You know what usually happens? Either I forget I even had it in the cart (true!) or I decide to not purchase. The less we buy the less we have to take care of. The less we have to wash, clean, organize. The less we have to give away later.
Where can you start today? Start small. Set a timer for 10 minutes each day this week. Spend 10 minutes in your closet. 10 minutes in your kitchen. 10 minutes on your phone. Let me know how it’s going and what you learn about yourself. What’s hard to give away? What excuses do you come up with to hold onto something you don’t use?
The less items we have, the less we need: the less we need to spend, the less we need to buy, the less we need to clean, the less we need to feel guilty about not wearing or not using. When in doubt, throw it out.
Let’s go warriors!
If this resonates with you, check out my 10 Day Cleanse for Conscious Living. Each day we take simple steps to cleanse our life of the clutter that holds us back: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Extra bonus: It won’t empty your wallet as it’s on sale through the end of this month!