There is so much advice out there about the power of de-cluttering, I don’t know about you but whenever I hear the phrase de-cluttering I get a mental image of lots of clothes, shoes, bags and books being placed in black bags and being lovingly gifted to the local charity store. I feel a sense of relief for my house being clean, tidy and clutter free and I get a warm glow knowing that I am doing my bit for local charity. I also get a secret thrill at the thought of having space in my wardrobe once more and start thinking about all the lovely new clothes that will fill it (I know that is not meant to be the point but I am honest!)
Over the summer, I did have a massive de-clutter of our house and in particular my wardrobes and my home office. It felt totally liberating and I really did feel a sense of lightness when I was finished. As I look around me now, there are still areas of my home that I need to focus on and I feel really drawn to a less complicated arrangement, where I can always find the things I want and there is just more space.
On the theme of decluttering… I had a really powerful experience last week that I wanted to share with you. I guess I am not alone when I say that de-cluttering has always been about the physical for me. It has always been about the charity bags and the clean and tidy home. Last week I took decluttering to a new level and I realised that I have been in a phase of decluttering this year without even realising. Here is what happened…
I think as a coach and mentor to women, it is incredibly important that I also ensure that I receive regular coaching for myself. I think it enables me to be a better coach for the people I work with. So, last Friday I had arranged to have a coaching session with my coach. We had agreed to meet at a local hotel and, as is often the case right now, I found myself running a few minutes late for the session.
As I was driving over, I was considering what topic I wanted to be coached on. I think right up until I raced in to the hotel making my apologies for being late, I had not really settled on a topic. We sat down together and the coaching began and I found myself talking about the feeling of overwhelm I was currently experiencing. My coach knows that I am a visual person and that I am highly intuitive and so she asked me to describe what the overwhelm felt like to me. I suddenly found myself describing my life like one of my handbags where the contents are jumbled together, there is too much inside it and you can never find your keys because there is just so much stuff to get through.
She took me through a 30-minute conversation that involved unpacking all the contents, deciding what segments I would want inside my bag and then carefully getting rid of stuff I no longer needed OR carefully placing things in to the right segment of the bag. As we worked through this I had stated to her that I felt like I had taken too much on and that I didn’t feel I was getting enough time for me. I could clearly see the segments in my handbag and it came down to 3 things; my corporate work commitments, my business and my personal life. Even just getting to this point was such a relief and I started to feel lighter. As with all good coaching, I was asked to commit to an action and my action was to fill out my planner with all my commitments to the end of the year so I could see exactly how much I had going on and where I had capacity.
Following the session, I felt so motivated to take the agreed action and to truly see how cluttered or uncluttered my life truly was. I raced home and reached for the planner that Rob had bought me for Christmas last year. Because I am visual and I love colour I decided I was going to schedule things in different colours so that I could easily identify different categories. The categories I landed on were:
No Ordinary Woman business
She is Unstoppable book launch
Health and wellbeing
Time with Rob (yes, I scheduled that too!)
I spent a good amount of time just scheduling all my commitments in to the pages of the planner and when I finished I felt incredible. My mind felt so free from having had to carry the burden of keeping all my appointments and commitments in my head. The reality is that I am busy and there is not much free time but it helped me see that I can manage the commitments that I have currently made and that there is not much capacity for me. This is so helpful because it means I must be strict with my boundaries now and to stop keep saying YES to everything!
The other thing it enabled me to do was take stock of where I am spending my time. Because everything was colour coded, it was easy to see where certain aspects of my life are getting neglected. For example, I was not spending much time on my own personal development and it has helped me determine if that balance feels right or not and how I can rectify it by scheduling more time for this as I move into January and beyond.
This week I have felt so much more in control. I have known day by day and hour by hour what I have committed to and because these activities have been scheduled, I have achieved them. I have not felt overwhelmed by the volume of commitments because I know I have it under control and I am not going to keep loading more in to the system. I feel like I have achieved more because things have felt less chaotic and more planned. To continue with the handbag analogy, my bag has felt lighter and every time my hand has gone in the bag, I have found my keys!
The moral of the story is that physical decluttering of your home and possessions is wonderful and can make you feel great but mental decluttering is completely liberating.
Here are some tips on how to clear the clutter from your mind…
- Get everything down on paper that is going on in your head so that you don’t have to remember it
- Categorise the things on the paper so you can easily put them in to bigger chunks
- Schedule time in to undertake the tasks. Try and schedule for at least a week if not longer
- Use a scheduling tool that works for you. I love having something physical so a planner works for me but there are lots of online tools such as Google calendar or an app such as Trello
- Look at the schedule and reflect on what emotions you are experiencing. Are you feeling relieved that it is planned out? Does it feel manageable? Do you have enough time for you?
- If you are still feeling overwhelmed or the balance doesn’t feel right, what activities can you get support with, which can you postpone, which can you cancel?
- Take a few moments, close your eyes and focus on your breath and remember that you have GOT THIS!
I would love to hear how you get on with this exercise so please comment below!
Next week I will be looking at the benefit of emotional decluttering.
Until next time
Ps I would love to thank Gill my coach for an awesome session that had a massive impact!