Do you shudder at the thought of decluttering? Are you someone who feels so overwhelmed at the thought of it that it’s easier to just keep ignoring it or even that you feel that you’re a pretty tidy and organised person who doesn’t need to declutter?
Let’s get down to basics. We all need to declutter from time to time. I’m not talking putting a skip on the drive (although I’ve been tempted a few times!). Decluttering comes in all shapes and sizes from choosing a cupboard in the kitchen that’s been annoying you for ages, clearing out your inbox or unsubscribing from the gazillion emails that you’ve signed up to, digging out the spare room (that’s why visitors are good, they give you focus) or your mind.
Decluttering the mind is an interesting one. We can get so busy in our minds, particularly before Christmas when we’ve got so much to think about that we sometimes can’t think straight. Our minds can become so super busy that we can’t switch off or think clearly and unlike that drawer in the kitchen/sideboard/Welsh dresser (you know the one I mean, we’ve all got one), you can’t tip everything out on the table and start sorting through it.
So why should I declutter my mind?
The simple answer is, just like that drawer we mentioned earlier, it’s easy to keep throwing things in but never sorting through them and clearing out what’s no longer needed.
There are a number of ways to declutter your mind and it’s good to try different things. One of my favourites is to separate everything out into 3 boxes. You can do this as a practical exercise by literally having 3 boxes and lots of bits of paper, on lists or post-it notes on the wall or as a purely mindful experience, imagining that you’re putting everything into boxes.
First of all, gather everything together that you have absolutely no control over. All those things that you’re worrying about or are on your mind but no matter how hard you try, you have no control over whatsoever. Put that in the first box, on the first list etc. That’s it, there’s nothing you can do about this collection of ‘stuff’ so let’s dump it here.
Next, look at everything that you’ve got control over but isn’t urgent. This group can be stored somewhere for a while as it’s not a priority so let’s park that list or box or group of post-it notes somewhere safe to come back to.
Now there’s only one group left. Yes, you’ve guessed it; everything that you have control over and is urgent (or important, there is a difference!). The urgent stuff are the things that have a date attached, usually on someone else’s timescale such as a bill that needs paying, a piece of work that needs completing, a meeting to prepare for etc. The important stuff doesn’t necessarily have a date attached but it’s important to you to complete it so whether it’s in your personal or professional life, you’d like to get it done.
The mass of clutter in your mind has been divided up so now you’ve only got one list or box to work with. Decluttering done!
It’s important that we declutter all areas of our lives, not just one thing but if this in itself feels overwhelming, then start with one thing. It doesn’t matter where you start; the point is that you start somewhere. Once you’ve begun on that drawer, room, inbox, unsubscribing or thought, then it will gain momentum and you’ll be off. My challenge to you is to pick something and do it today. No matter how big or small, just do something. You’ll feel great when you have.