Welcome to the middle of the year and the middle of summer. Hooray! Yet wait…I’m an adult. I’m no longer 18 and out for the summer….hum. No matter! I encourage you to simplify your life so you can get back some of that fun, relaxed, frolic-y mindset. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you are supposed to be miserable. July is important for two reasons: First it’s true summer which means relaxing, fun, AND REJUVENATING AWESOMENESS. Second, it’s also the middle of the calendar year which means we get to look at how closely we’re living in line with our intentions for this year. The two forces together can make us a bit rebellious yet inwardly uncomfortable. We leave the school year, whether we had kids in the school year or not, and we want to REST! PLAY! FROLIC! Yet, if you’re like many adults, you have a JOB and RESPONSIBILITIES! And so, we’re torn. Let me make it easy for you, This month we will focus on ways to simplify your life so that you can get to some of those desired feelings states. Lets take that summer calm and infuse it into our life. Each week this month, I will help you simplify four different aspects of your life: finances, relationships, house, schedule. This week let’s look at our houses.
The more intentionally we live, the calmer we feel. The less we have, the less we have to take care of; the less we have to think about; the less we have to manage. I’m not encouraging you to get rid of everything except for your bed though I am encouraging you to get rid of everything that doesn’t bring you joy or serve a specific purpose. Take inventory of these four areas of your house so as to live a lighter and more satisfied life.
Closet: Which of your clothes do you actually wear? Which are you saving for some odd reason? People either save things for two reasons: (1) Future or (2) Guilt. First, if you hear yourself say: “maybe one day” or “what if…”, that means you’re saving it for the future and, in my rule book, that means that goes in the bag for goodwill. If you’re saving it for when you lose those 10 lbs, get rid of it. When you lost those 10lbs, you’ll want to wear something else and looking at it reminds you of a goal you haven’t achieved (not great for the self-confidence). If you’re saving it because “maybe one day” you’ll get invited to that garden formal event where that dress would be perfect….again, goodwill bag! If/when you do get invited, you’ll want to wear something different. Bet. The second reason people save things? Guilt. So many of us save things because someone gave it to us or it cost a lot. If you’re saving a sweater that your Aunt Maggie gave you and (gasp) what would she think if you got rid of it, ask yourself when is the last time Aunt Maggie has looked in your closet?! It’s eating up mental space in your mind and physical space in your world. Take a picture of it, feel warm and cozy for her gesture, and….get rid of it. If you’re saving something because you spent an ungodly sum on it and have only worn it once (or not at all), ask yourself how much you would spend to buy it today? We tend to overvalue things that we already own. Would you buy it again today? No? Get rid of it. Looking at it reminds you of a poor decision you made and someone else will love it. Live, Learn, Donate.
Kitchen: How many can openers do you need? Serving spoons? Getting a divorce was one of the best things that could’ve happened for my clutter. I left my house with very little and so, when purchasing new for my rental, I didn’t buy 12 serving spoons to replace the 12 I left with my ex. Instead, I bought one. One serving spoon. One spatula. One cookie tray. One set of tongs. When I needed more, I would either buy more or figure out how to make do with just one. Look around your kitchen. How many cook books do you really need? When I want to make something new, I usually open google, not a cookbook. How often do you really use that mini bundt loaf pan? What’s on your countertop? What do you use weekly? Put away or get rid of the rest. Clutter on your countertops clutters your brain. Truth. ”When in doubt, throw it out.”
Phone: Yes your phone. Which apps do you have on your phone? Which do you use daily or weekly? Get rid of the rest. You do not need further reasons to get on your phone. Do you have Facebook on your phone? Here’s a worksheet I’ve given clients that helps clarify whether to keep the FB app on your phone or not (I vote NOT). Further, if you’re an adult, you do not need more than one game on your phone. Your days will be happier if, instead of looking to your phone for joy or entertainment, you look up and find it around you.
Shelves + Table Tops: What do you have on your shelves? Try this exercise, close your eyes and picture your main room. Name what you have on each shelf or surface. Get specific. What’s on the top shelf of that book case? What’s on the second shelf of that china cabinet. Now open your eyes. How accurate were you? Heres’ a fun fact: you remembered the things you remembered because they were either things you love or things you hate. You will remember that golf trophy of your spouse’s that he insists on displaying or the platter you bought in Italy and adore. What you didn’t remember are the things I encourage you to give away. The nondescript vase? The chipped platter? The pile of non-life-changing books? Similar to the cleaning you did in your kitchen, remind yourself that you do not need 6 vases, books you never enjoyed (or even read), or 4 chip + dip bowls. Challenge yourself to take 1-2 items off every shelf or surface and see how much lighter you feel.
Clutter in our physical life clutters our brain. The less we own, the less we think about. The less we own, the less we need to clean, the less we need to organize, the less decisions we need to make (which of my 16 white tees will I wear?). The less clothes, table cloths, or kitchen gadgets, we have, the less we have to think about which to use, the less we have to clean, the less we have to put away. We wake up with a limited amount of mental energy and a certain number of decisions that our brain is able to make. If we use our decision making power on our shirts, it is not available for bigger decisions during the day.
Minimize the decisions you need to make on routine things by minimizing the things you have.
Where can you start today? Start small. Set a timer for 10 minutes each day this week. Spend 10 minutes in your closet. 10 minutes in your kitchen. 10 minutes on your phone. 10 minutes on your shelves and countertops. Let me know how it’s going and what you learn about yourself. What’s hard to give away? What excuses do you come up with to hold onto something you don’t use?
Let’s go warriors!
If this resonates with you, check out my 10 Day Cleanse for Conscious Living. Each day we take simple steps to cleanse our life of the clutter that holds us back: physically, mentally, and emotionally.