WE MUST REMEMBER THAT WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS AND NOT JUST HUMAN DOINGS!
As I mentioned in last weeks March favourites post, I recently attended a one day course organised by Guardian Masterclasses that was focused on living a healthier, happier life. Something I'm sure we all wish to do in whatever way that may mean for us. There were a number of fantastic speakers throughout the day covering all sorts of useful topics that both inspired and very usefully informed at the same time.
One such speaker was Juliet Landau-Pope a Certified Declutter Coach and Study Skills Expert. Now I'll start off by saying that I never knew such a role even existed but with my penchant for keeping organised I'm surprised I hadn't picked up on such a job much sooner! Not only that but Juliet is a member of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers in the UK - er hello, how do I join this association please?!
But aside from my marvelling at these very facts, I wanted to share with you today some of the very fine words of wisdom imparted by Juliet on the day. Ways to really think about the clutter in your life and how you may deal with it going forward.
Juliet identifies clutter into three very specific sections: TIME, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL.
Decluttering your lifestyle isn't just about clearing up the odds and ends on your desktop, it's about really thinking fully about your whole outlook and what you're choosing to allow into your work and life on a daily basis. So with spring firmly within our grasp, here are three great things to think about when it comes to refreshing both mind and space for the new season - and indeed for the longer term future of your overall health and wellbeing.
THREE WAYS TO RETHINK THE CLUTTER IN YOUR LIFE
1. Be Mindful Of What You Put Into Your TIME Not Just Your Space:
We often only think of clutter as physical items, which it is, but clutter can also embody what you cram into your time. Are you filling your diary with unnecessary appointments and adding mounds of jumble to your to-do list just to keep up with modern pressure to always appear busy?
Quite a while back now I wrote a post about the so called 'Cult Of Busy' and I think this is something that still rings completely true. We live in a society where we somehow feel inadequate if we're not rushed off of our feet every single second of every single day. We add things to our lives just in order to keep ourselves busy and then convince ourselves that these things are just as crucial and important as our truly critical everyday tasks, creating extra stress at every turn.
USEFUL ACTION POINT: Why not take some time this week to sit down with your diary and your to-do lists, or whatever it is that you personally use to organise your time, and really be honest with yourself about what actually needs doing versus what is being created for the sake of being busy. At first glance you'll probably tell me that everything is crucial. But take a moment to honestly think about that - is this really true? And how can you make better choices about how you're going to use your time going forward?
Don't be afraid to have a gap here and there. As Juliet so correctly stated, we've become human-doings and have forgotten how to be human-beings. Find a point in your day where you can just 'be' for a minute and don't let the outside world make you feel guilty about that. Don't be scared to say no to unproductive activities that do not serve you. I'm sure we can all identify at least one thing in the coming month that we just don't need to do, an area from which we can claw back some of that much needed, precious time. Clear those wasted moments from your schedule and then leave them clear, don't cave to the desire to refill the space with something else.
2. Retail Therapy Is The Biggest Con. Is All That PHYSICAL 'Stuff' Really Making You Feel Better?
Sorry but it's true and deep down we all know it. When it comes to our physical clutter we all have far too much stuff crammed into our space. We live in a consumer driven society where shopping is now a leisure activity and we struggle daily to get away from it. Don't worry I'm just as guilty of this as the next person but we need to make a conscious effort to be more mindful of what we buy and put into our space. Not only to restrict the clutter but to save us all some much needed cash as well!
Of course it's very easy to say that we should simply declutter our space and let go of everything that's getting in our way. For many of us it's not always that simple. Physical items can hold an awful lot of weight and significance and can be hard to part with. A fellow blogger, Sophie from The Private Life of a Girl, wrote in a post at the beginning of this year that when decluttering your space you should be ruthless but not unkind and that point has stayed with me ever since. Finding a balance between what you need and what you love can be hard but is important. Being ruthless is great, but don't break your heart by overdoing it and regretting it later down the line. You can read more in Sophie's original post here: 5 Helpful Tips To Successfully Declutter Your Space.
USEFUL ACTION POINTS: Juliet had so much sound advice when it came to physical clutter. So if you're planning a re-jig of the unwanted physical jumble in your life, I'll leave you with a few points to think about before you get started:
a. Start somewhere that will have an immediate impact so that you can see the benefit straight away. For example Juliet suggests starting in your bedroom as getting rid of unnecessary clutter in that space will instantly have a positive impact on your nights rest, thus creating a desire to continue in other areas as you can already quickly see the benefits.
b. Consider - right here right now, what do I really love and really need? Focus on the present and not on the past because if everything matters then surely nothing matters? Try not to attach too much meaning to each and every item.
c. For things that you no longer need but are perhaps struggling to part with, find a purposeful and meaningful way to let go and take one small step towards doing so. For example when I moved house recently I knew I no longer had the space for the many, many dance and theatre books that I had collected during my time training in musical theatre many moons ago! I no longer needed them, everything in them would now be online anyway, but they represented a huge part of my life that I was perhaps frightened to fully let go of.
Now, I've happily donated my clothes and other items to charity on many an occasion but in this instance I needed to know these books would be loved by people with the same passion as me. In the end, via a friend who is a teacher, I donated them to a local school with a strong performing arts background, with students studying the exact same things that I was many years ago. I felt they would be loved and enjoyed and come in useful in the same way that they did for me and that made it a little bit easier to let them go.
3. We Have So Many Expectations Of What Life Should Be. Don't Let EMOTIONAL Voices Taunt.
Emotional clutter is a tricky one. We have so many expectations from both external and internal sources about what life should be. It kind of ties in to the time clutter and allies with our need to fill our diaries in order to make ourselves feel worthwhile. Those 'should, would, could' voices in our heads undermine our sense of worth and overwhelm us time and time again.
As I've written previously in my post about letting ourselves be we really need to stop should'ing all over ourselves. But often we don't even notice the negative voices that are guiding us through the day to day. Taking our emotional clutter into account and working to improve it can really help us to tackle the other aspects of our busy lifestyles too, so it's something worth thinking about if you're finding yourself constantly flustered and disappointed by your sense of achievement.
USEFUL ACTION POINT: These internal voices tend to gather themselves up to highest speed the more flustered and hectic that we get. One such time that they can really stress us out is as we're about to leave the house, say for work in the morning, or for a family day out.
Take a brief moment once you're ready to leave the house but before you go out of that front door: Pause. Sit. Breathe. Focus. Just take one minute of silence and stillness to gather yourself. You'll be amazed at the difference it will make to your day and to the emotional stress that you're probably already putting yourself under despite the fact that your day has only just begun!
So I hope some of this advice provides interesting thought if you're considering an upcoming spring clean and know that you need to do more than just tidy out a few drawers in your workspace. Clutter is so much more than just the physical but it all ties in to creating our busy, stress filled everyday lives. Stepping back and thinking honestly about these areas might really help us all to make positive, longer term changes to our space, schedules and our minds.
I'd love to hear from you if you have any further thoughts about clutter and spring cleaning? What ideas do you have that have worked out well for you?
Enjoy your week everyone and hope to see you back here soon.