How often do you stop to think about your priorities in life?
If you’re like most people, that doesn’t happen a lot. Your dreams and goals are vague, or you don’t remember to find the time to work on making them happen.
We have so many unnecessary thoughts in our heads, so many things in our home or workspace, so many people we feel we should spend our time with...
All these things create a clutter that makes things that are really important slip from our mind somehow. They simply get lost in it, we forget to focus on them and to work on them – and the time goes by.
Fortunately, you can choose any moment in your life – this one is good – to declare a fresh start, so if you’re ready to start decluttering here’s a 3 week plan for you.
(And before you frown, 3 weeks should be enough to make decluttering a habit, and it’s also slow enough so that you can adapt to the changes you’re making)
Week One: Decluttering your space
Cleaning up your space is not just a positive practical experience (for obvious reasons), but it helps in establishing the base for cleaning up the mess in your thoughts and in your life.
You have a full week on this, so you can afford to declutter your drawers, your basement, your kitchen, your workplace... or pick the place that irritates you the most and start with it.
Make choices about what you’ll do with the items you want to dispose of (and yes, if you haven’t worn that dress for over a year, you probably don’t like it as much as you think – so dispose of it too).
Give those things to a local charity, or to someone you know that could make good use of it.
Find a home for the things you’re keeping. This will reduce the weekly clutter in the future.
It may seem like you’re just cleaning up the space, but there’s a connection between how you treat your stuff and how you treat your life.
Week Two: Getting to know your thoughts
With so many of them in your head every day, you probably have no idea how much space they take. So you first need to assess the situation.
Buy a small notebook, something handy to carry with you.
Dedicate a few sheets of paper to each of the following topics:
- Things that go on my nerves
- Things that disturb me
- Things I have to do
- Things that make me happy
- Things I want
(Add another topic if something else comes up and you don’t know where to put it)
You’ll use this notebook to get the thoughts out of your head. Whatever pops up during the next 7 days, just write it down. Don’t think about it – you’re just preparing the data now.
Week Three: Analyzing and decluttering
Now comes the fun part: you’re about to analyze one topic at the time.
With the lists 1 and 2 ask yourself these two questions for every single item:
- Why does this go on my nerves/disturbs me?
- What can I do differently about it? How can I change the way I am handling this situation?
We can do a lot when it comes to what we give our attention to. A nervous boss isn’t important enough to make you unhappy – you can’t change him, but you can change the way you respond to him. It’s a decision you can now make.
These two lists should significantly diminish once you see everything that’s on them, and when you realize that they just don’t belong there. Do you really have to get upset about so many things in your life? That’s right!
List No. 3. Take a colored marker. Now mark the things which need to be done by you, things that absolutely no one else can do, and only the really important ones. The rest – delegate! One thing at a time if you’re really a control freak, but try to make it as many as you can ;)
List No. 4 is to remind you to do the things on it, as often as you can :)
Finally, the most important list – your goals and ideas!
With these be extra careful. Write them down to a separate peace of paper, or print them out and put them where you’ll be able to see them several times during the day.
Pick the most important one, the one that’s been haunting you for a while, and devote some time to it every day. Wake up in the morning with it in mind, and fall asleep thinking about it. Let it grow. Now, that you’ve freed up some time, devote that time to be totally focused on that idea or goal, not letting any of the other thoughts interrupt.
Let your decluttered mind work for you.
Now that it can, it will do its best :)