It’s spring and I want to write about spring cleaning some more, because it’s typically one of my favorite things to do (I’m fun, I swear). There are few things I appreciate more than a clean, organized living space. I find it almost impossible to do anything amidst clutter — work, play, relax. I love organization; I find it — the process as well as the end result — calming and beautiful. But it’s tough to accomplish when you have a million other things happening, even when you love it; and even tougher when you don’t! So, to inspire both you and me, here are a few easy and effective, but perhaps new, tips that might help:
First, pick a room and grab a journal or a piece of paper. Don’t do anything but stop, breathe, and look at your stuff. (Do not dive right in, attack-style; there’s a method to this, I promise.) What is your clutter, or this room, saying to you? What feelings arise when you’re in this space? Write this down. Go with your gut. Then pick a specific area of this room and look at each item; for instance, everything on your desk. Make a decision, item by item, of its importance in your life. Do you love it or have to have it? Are you not sure? Does it no longer serve you? And then (this is the fun part!): What would you rather have in your life? Realize that every item takes up space; physically, emotionally, psychically. Clutter can really drag us down. If you could harness and redirect that energy, where would it go? Toward a new adventure? Trade a bunch of sorta-pretty-decent things for one thing that is so gorgeous and special that it blows your mind?
Next, it’s time to make a plan, for now and for the future, and for serious. By now you may realize that you gravitate toward certain types of clutter (like fancy pens or pencils with skulls and hearts on them or piles of multi-colored post-its or little sticky tabs to mark your book pages… so what?!?). And then, hypothetically of course, you might decide that you shouldn’t step foot in Staples or perhaps the Target stationary aisles for a little while; like a year or maybe longer. Regardless, before you buy anything further, ask yourself, aside from the monetary expense, if this is worth taking up space in your home and in your mind. If it isn’t, blow it a kiss, wish it a happy home, and keep on keeping on.
And for the things you already have but to which you are ready to bid adieu? Think about donating this stuff first. Could your gym or a teacher or an art student take your old magazines? Could a women’s shelter benefit from your clothes? Maybe you’re inspired to organize a clothing swap with friends and donate anything leftover in this manner.
Other examples? Just before we moved to Denver, I gave away literally hundreds of books (if you know me, you know this is no exaggeration!) to happy takers on craigslist. I have also, throughout the years, made relatively small fortunes on eBay and through the sellers’ marketplace on Amazon. (I also still have, and buy, too many books. I don’t see that changing any time soon.)
Lastly, once you decide what needs to go and what absolutely must stay, schedule a clearing-out time. In your calendar. As my beloved biz mentor, Marie Forleo, says, “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.” So, like any other appointment, make a date, even a 20-minute quickie, with yourself to clear some space. And then get busy, remembering to ask yourself if this or that item serves you, helps you, or gets you closer to living the life you envision. When in doubt, throw it out (or donate, craigslist- or freecycle-it!). And if that quickie wasn’t exactly satisfying, well… do it again.
I hope this inspires you, because it’s got me psyched to get going on my own stuff… which I will be doing this weekend. Specifically, this Saturday at 1 PM (MDT; written in my calendar with one of my four dozen stupid/cool miniature-mechanical skull pencils). I can already see the clear surfaces and feel the relief of freshly opened space. What about you?