Operation Declutter Your Home: The How & Why

Two years ago I packed up my entire home into boxes for a move to a new house.  Ultimately, we didn’t move to that new house and I was stuck with all my stuff in boxes.  While it was disappointing at the time, I look back with gratitude because it enabled me to do something very important.

I didn’t have the energy to immediately unpack everything because I was still quite disappointed with how things had turned out so I just unpacked what I really needed for that week.  After that first week there were certain special items I missed having around me so I unpacked those.  Within the first month I had unpacked what I really needed and what was very important to me and nothing more.

Months passed and what I came to realise was that I had been harbouring a LOT of stuff that I thought I needed, wanted, or would one day use that was just cluttering up my space and my mind.  The really important result of not having all that extra stuff out is that I had the space both physically and mentally to re-evaluate my life a bit and see what I wanted to do next and how I wanted to live.

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
Marie Kondō

It seems that when you have all the stuff from your past still cluttering your home it becomes difficult to see the changes you actually want to make.  Your stuff holds you back.  I highly recommend clearing out the clutter to make space for the new to come in.  Once I had everything out of the way I began to see how I could make my home’s style a better reflection of who I am now and what I’m aiming for.

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
Marie Kondō

I don’t expect you to go and pack up your whole house as I did to figure out what is worth your space and what is not (although if you can it works well) but I do have a strategy that I think can help you reach the same results in increments.  Instead, pack up room by room.

  • Go into a room of your house and pack everything up.  Take this opportunity to clean the room top to bottom.
  • Leave this room over night or as long as it takes for you to go into the room to do something.
  • Then unpack only what you need for the task or for a week.
  • After a week unpack the things you really miss having around you but be strict about this.  Only the stuff that truly means something to you like photos, special gifts or ornaments, etc.  Do not riffle through boxes and pull out stuff just because it has a memory attached to it because that’s all your stuff.  Just those things that can’t be replaced.
  • Throughout the first month only unpack those things that you need, those special things that you enjoy having around you and which are in line with your current mindset and home style.  Leave everything else in the boxes.
  • After that first month anything that remains in those boxes you should consider donating, selling, or throwing away.

Move from room to room in this way and if you are honest and strict with yourself you should have cleared out plenty of clutter and maybe even made a bit of money from it.  When it comes to clothes the one month rule won’t apply to seasonal clothes so you may have to revisit your wardrobe each season and cull those pieces that don’t get worn within one month.   Give it a try and see how you do.  Do it every year if you want to.  Like everything the more often you do it the better at it you’ll get.

If you find yourself needing a real push to help you declutter you might want to read famous Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  It is jam packed with quote-worthy motivation and revelations.

What’s your take on clutter, love it or hate it?

 

 

The Inspiration Journal: The Journal For Achieving Your Goals

It is a long held tradition for people to keep a journal or diary of their thoughts, the events of their lives, and their feelings.  Many powerful and successful people have done so.  There are also a number of different reasons for keeping a journal; some do so to record their lives and its events, some to vent their emotions, and others to capture their ideas and fuel their creativity.

“Swiftly, swiftly, record your thoughts before they are forever lost in time.”
Trevor Wright
A Treasury of Thoughts

The benefits of journaling are well covered so if you don’t already keep a journal the only question that remains to be asked is what kind you should write.  For as many reasons to keep a journal there are equally as many styles of journals you can keep.  If your desire is to focus on achieving your goals or expanding your knowledge I recommend creating something positive, useful, and inspirational for your life goals.  Keep the journal that focuses on what you read, what you think, pieces of information or quotes that inspire you.  Include plans and people to follow.  Keep a journal that becomes a collection of everything you want to achieve, the tools to get you there, and the inspiration you need for the journey.  Create something that motivates and re-inspires you as you read back over it.  Create an inspiration journal.

“We always attract into our lives whatever we think about most, believe most strongly, expect on the deepest level, and imagine most vividly.”
Shakti Gawain
Creative Visualization

Keep a journal filled with writing and notes focused on the life goals you are working toward which will inspire and fast track your success.

  • Fill the pages of your journal with the books you read and what you thought about them.
  • Include reading lists of the books you hope to read.
  • Note pieces of information you find helpful.
  • Jot down your ideas and your inspirations.
  • Share the quotes you love and the films that struck you.
  • List your favourite writers, bloggers, photographers, or other people you admire.
  • Write down your goals and dreams.
  • Create plans and draw.
  • Keep a list of websites, magazines, and articles you liked.
  • Brainstorm and create mind maps, jot down keywords, create tag clouds.

Everything you are curious about, everything that inspires and helps you, every idea you have, write it all in one notebook.  Whatever project you are working on or goal you are trying to reach, whatever you are trying to learn more about or skill set you are seeking to acquire will greatly benefit from a journal that brings together everything you encounter along the way.  You may be surprised how something seemingly unrelated can bring new meaning or perspective to something else you were thinking about.

Read back over it and you will see that you have created a valuable source of focused inspiration and information.  It will help you get where you want to go in life and when you look back over it you’ll see how far you’ve come.

I like to think of it as the kind of journal left behind by brilliant people like Leonardo da Vinci or John Steinbeck.  I like the idea of putting time into something that is constructive and focused on creating the journey rather than simply recounting the journey.  For me, keeping this kind of journal has shifted my focus away from what was toward what I will do which I believe is a better recipe for success.

 

 

New Year, New Goals: Setting Goals for a Mindset Refresh

We are two weeks into the new year.  By now many people have already defined their new year’s resolutions and a few may already have given up on them.  I like the idea of resolutions but I tend to prefer goal setting at the beginning of the year.  Rather than focus on things I want to stop doing I like to focus on what I want to achieve during the year, where I want to be by the end of the year, and what I need to do to get there.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

I think what’s important is not so much the goal (although achieving it would definitely be wonderful) but rather the mindset we get into by thinking carefully about what we want and how we will get there.  Getting your head into the right gear at the beginning of the year is a powerful way to let go of the year just ended and prepare to be open for the new.

I’m not sure that looking back over a year and judging it as either good or bad is the right strategy for life.  There is no doubt that some years leave us drained or depressed while others have filled us with joy and hope.

“And just as he who, with exhausted breath, having escaped from the sea to shore, turns to the perilous waters and gazes.” – Canto 1, lines 22-24, The Inferno of The Divine Comedy by Dante

The quote above is how I see looking back at a tough year.  You got out alive and there’s much to be grateful for in the lessons we learn in tough times.  These make us stronger and prepare us for greater challenges.  This, too, is important as is happiness and prosperity.  Another quote I like that often helps me see what I initially perceive as a tough year as part of the greater picture of my life is from Zora Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God:

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

If last year wasn’t the year you hoped it would be, don’t worry.  Everything is preparation.  Get out a fresh, blank piece of paper and think about what you want to achieve and what kind of life you want to have.  Then write down the things you need to do to get there.  Be specific.  Each day you can work a little more on completing task after task until you get closer and closer to where you want to be.

Last year I asked questions about where I am and where I wanted to be.  It was about coming to a realisation that I wanted a drastic change and that I needed to take risks to get it.  This year I have a better and clearer idea of what I want and the steps I will take to get there.  Among the many changes I will try to bring about this year the main one is focus on developing skills that will better help me to express the creative side of myself.  I will be taking courses in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, focusing on developing my photography, and working towards creating better content for digital publication.  Doing these things will bring me joy and satisfaction because essentially my goal is to do more of what makes me happy and not put any more time into doing stuff that doesn’t fascinate and inspire me.

What are your goals for this year?