Decluttering

3 Things Your Future Self Would Want You To Simplify This Year

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We're almost to the end of January and while you may have set some of your best resolutions about 30 days ago, you may feel that they're no longer top of mind.

Not because you don't want to keep them there, mostly just because life happens and even this far into January stuff starts to bombard our day-to-day. While a new year brings so much goodness along with it, pesky things like push notifications, unfinished tasks, house clutter, over-use of social media, and struggling to get your time back can distract you from achieving goals and increase feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. (And I don't know about you but I refuse to feel defeated 1/12th of the way into the year!)

To clarify, the things outlined in this post are not meant to replace any resolutions. They're more like the quiet background music that plays during your morning commute - they're included in this post to help you pace yourself. They can help you keep a steady drumbeat of sanity and serenity while you think about things like family, career, self-improvement and those 2018 resolutions.

So here's a list of three things your future self would want you to simplify this year.

Queue the drumroll.

1. Simplify Your Approach to Simplifying

Don't get bombarded by all the things you think you need to declutter or organize this year. Start small first. Work on one area that you feel you could benefit the most from and think about streamlining it. If you see that you can tackle one small thing, you'll notice that you can tackle more and eventually more. I know too many people who have started in on a major 8-hour decluttering project just to find that 4-hours in they aren't done. And they're burned out. And just like that, "simplifying" leaves a rather sour taste in their mouth. 

Take little steps toward simplifying. It's not going to happen overnight and that's ok! Take baby steps and you'll feel a lot less like this:

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Simple and intentional living blogger, Jennifer of Simply + Fiercely shared with me her view on simplifying things both physical and non-physical.

"I use the same decluttering system for everything, from my closet to my to-do list," she said. "Once you know your values and personal vision, you can ask yourself if the task/item/etc. is taking you further or closer to the life you want most. And of course, if it’s not, it’s time to let go!" 

She went on to say:

"Decluttering is really just learning a new way of decision making—but admittedly, it can take some time to learn. Personally, I found it easier to start with decluttering my physical stuff and as I got better at it, I naturally started to apply these skills to my schedule, relationships, and more."

If simplifying seems hard for you - know that you're not alone. It just takes a little guidance and some practice. If you'd like to meet other simple-seekers, come on over to my new Facebook group. The more the merrier!

2. Decrease Time Spent on Your Phone

YouTuber JP Sears shared a rather hilarious clip about being addicted to our phones. The "How To Be More Addicted to Your Phone" video is not only spot on, it illustrates how addicted we really are.

As JP (and research reports) point out, millennials check their phones nearly 150 times per day.

That's right. 150 TIMES PER DAY.

If you're a parent, then this topic may hit close to home.

I have a smartphone and I am also a mom. I use it to talk to my friends and family and in many ways it's been a wonderful tool to keep my out-of-state family close and in touch with my little guy.

On the flip side, I get slightly terrified when I consider how often I check my phone or how often it interrupts my day. At 15 months old, my son doesn't understand what those things mean. What he does understand is the attention I do or don't give to him. 

In a TIME Health article from last year, the topic of cell-phone distracted parenting was studied and researched:

"Few things require more hands-on attention than a young child. And there’s little that’s more distracting than the constant bleeping of our cells phones. When these two things compete for our attention, the results can be sobering."

The article went on to say that research shows children need reliable, quality attention from their parent. Specifically, the kind of attention that is free from endless distractions because distractions can impact our little ones on an emotional level.

It was at that point in the article that my ears really perked up. Yikes. I don't want to ruin my kid! Especially not because I'm interested in being the first to respond to a text-message ding or meaningless social-feed update.

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The study was eye opening and it has got me looking for ways to improve my own attention and focus.

If you're not a parent, I think it's safe to say that adults can very quickly get a sense for where our attention is or isn't if it's that obvious to a child.

So... let's all do our loved ones and friends a solid and vow to look up more!

3. Quiet the Noise

According to Reset.me:

"Few people would argue that modern life provides a nearly overwhelming amount of sensory bombardment in the form of noise, crowds, traffic, clutter, and the demands of ever-present electronic devices."

Is the TV always on? Try keeping it off for longer. Are you addicted to binge-watching your favorite shows (as so many of us are)? Challenge yourself to do new things during your downtime. Experiment with limiting your Netflix intake. I can tell you from personal experience that it is doable and it feels good to get personal time back.

Do you play a variety of uplifting music or dull replays of songs you've heard a million times that lack any significant mood-boosting ability?

When all is said and done, are the sounds in your life (that you can control) encouraging and uplifting? Calming or enlivening? Educational or melodic? Or is it all just noise.

TV and music aren't the only sources of noise. What's more of a challenge is noise pollution that's much harder to control and that surrounds so many of us who live in big cities.

According to an article in Harpers Bazaar, noise pollution is proven to be harmful to our health:

"A constant gush of stress hormones actually restructures the brain, contributing to tumor development, heart disease, respiratory disorders, and more. And of course, our hormonal endocrine systems haven’t had time to learn that car stereos aren’t out to get us..."

The article goes on to share that noise pollution can be worse for women, too:

"Women are more field-dependent, meaning they take in the whole picture, while men are more focused on what they’re doing, so they don’t notice what’s in the periphery...”

Noise does have an impact on us - even if we don't realize it. It's helpful to consider where and when we can lower the volume. The article shared ideas related to noise fasts (apparently it's a thing), choosing quieter appliances and using things like earplugs and white noise machines to muffle the sound.

Now, you might be thinking something like, "ok great. You've shared some interesting stats that have me thinking about these three things but where do I go from here? Where is the glimmer of hope? 

Jennifer of Simply + Fiercely shared the following sage advice for those starting in on their simplifying journey and I couldn't agree more:

"... start with self-reflection. What are your core values? What matters most to you? What are your priorities, hopes and dreams? Don’t assume you know the answers; instead, really invest time into exploring these questions. Then once you’re done, use your answers as a benchmark to help you evaluate what does (or doesn’t) belong in your life. And remember—the more you know what you want out of life, the easier it is to see what doesn’t belong."

Remember, your version of simple may not be my version of simple and that's the kind of thing that makes the world go round! 

Look for what matters most to YOU and go from there.

In the meantime, I encourage you to try pacing yourself when it comes to simplifying, try spending a little less time with the smartphone and try muffling the unnecessary noise this year.

I'll be working on these things, too. Please keep me posted on your progress and thoughts in the comments section!

Interested in the whole less is more idea? Subscribe to my free email list below and you'll be sent monthly tips and insights related to all things simple living including invites to future webinars.

This Is The Kind of Clutter That Overwhelms Type A Women + How To Get Rid of It

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A cluttered life may not be overrun with things. 

A cluttered life may not even look "messy" to others.

But it may feel out of sorts to you. 

To someone looking in, the imaginary burden of things slightly cluttered or left undone can go unnoticed, but to you it's like a weight that's hanging when you look at packed shelves in the garage or see a bag of donation items sitting in the corner of your room. It's an almost undetectable burden that weighs you down when you see things unfinished or run out of time at the end of the day for the tasks you really didn't want to put off again.

Interestingly enough, you're the only one who feels this load. You notice it, you feel the pull but you're not quite sure how to make it lighter. While your life is quite amazing, you know it could be a teensy bit better if you could get a handle on those few things that seem disorganized.

Amid the busyness of life and the transitional phases of things like career changes, starting a family and the general stresses of adulthood, simplifying seems to take the back burner. 

Unfortunately, as organized and tighty as we think we may be, it's the undetectable-to-the-outside-world stuff that often leads us to feel like we're living cluttered lives. 

If you had more time, you'd get rid of those weighty loads. You'd do it without hesitation if you knew how to tackle them or even properly identify them.

While the physical stuff is oftentimes to blame for clutter, it can be the non-physical stuff that is just as much if not more of the culprit.

According to Psychology Today:

"Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important... Clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile."

Starting something but not finishing it creates annoying emotional clutter.

There's actually an upside to this dilemma. It means you've started plenty of projects and probably already enjoy simplifying and cleaning out parts of your house. 

The issue here isn't a lack of motivation. You my friend, might just be one of the most motivated when it comes to simplifying. The underlying problem may be in the follow through. 

Example: You decide to go through your closet and weed out the shirts you're not so keen on anymore. You enjoyed the Sunday afternoon purge and after you finished the job, you added the said items into a brown bag that you planned to take to Goodwill. 

The problem with this very simple but all too familiar scenario is that clean-closet-on-Sunday-afternoon-from-2-4pm all of a sudden became a two-month long journey where that bag sat and starred back at you like a sarcastic reminder of failure instead of success.

And reminders like that just ain't fun.

So here's a little suggestion. Add the purge portion of your project AND the drop-off of those goods into your calendar. Create an actual event for yourself and see if it helps. Add it like you would your hair appointment or trip to the doctor. 

It's extremely simple but it might just help you with the follow through. 

This doesn't just apply to much needed errands either. You can try this with larger organizational jobs in your house. Sometimes we get in way over our heads with something like cleaning out the garage. So schedule the job on your calendar and in increments. That way you have a time set aside for the job and you won't burn out after spending 5 hours on a Saturday trying to tackle it. While getting in and getting it all done can work for some people, it won't work for everyone and may lead to good ole' fashioned burnout. YIKES.

If you create an appointment to help complete tasks, it increases the chances that you'll get a reminder, it helps you plan around that thing and you'll be more apt to want to check it off your list.

The notably efficient and organized Stephen R. Covey explained it like this:

"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule but to schedule your priorities."

Remember, it's not that you don't want to simplify. It's just figuring out how to create some accountability so that you complete the task. And lemme tell you, I'm still working on this. It's too easy for any of us to start something and get pulled in a handful of directions. (If you have a toddler, you know exactly what I mean.) 

Digital clutter i.e. too many emails and social media updates create feelings of overwhelm and ANXIETY

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist shares 25 areas where you can minimize clutter. The trusty email inbox made the number one spot on Becker's list.

Bottom line? Virtual clutter is still clutter and we've got it bombarding us all day everyday.

Example: You, like the rest of the world's population like to check your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram feeds. It's fun to see updates from old friends and watch videos of darling dogs and cats. The downside to the never ending social feeds and updates, however, are feelings of despair, comparison and the fear of missing out. YIKES again.

According to Anxiety.org, online social media addictions can lead to rising levels of anxiety among other not-so-great feelings.

"Feelings of self-consciousness or a need for perfectionism can arise, which often manifests itself into social anxiety..."

And our goal here is to prevent feelings of overwhelm. Because nobody enjoys feeling like this:

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For those of you with a Type-A personality - anxiety is probably already your frenemy. Most perfectionists feel like they're never quite perfect enough. Combine this with constant reminders of things in and around your house that you've wanted to get rid of, clean up or get out and it's a recipe for never-ending feelings of anxiousness. 

According to an article from Daily Trends, social media anxiety disorder is a real thing that a lot of women in particular experience as a result of too much social media clutter filling up their lives. The article goes on to provide this solution:

"Stress caused by basic social media use is a lot easier to handle, as long as you are willing to alter your way of thinking. “I can spend hours browsing Pinterest, and sometimes that site convinces me that anyone can embark on any DIY project with fabulous results,” wrote Jenna Andersen, creator and editor of PinterestFail, a funny blog that encourages Pinteresters to have a healthy laugh at their mistakes. “This hasn’t been my experience, and I’m guessing it’s happened to [others] as well.”'

In a nutshell, physical and digital clutter can make us feel less than productive and that we're somehow a hot, disorganized mess EVEN THOUGH WE'RE NOT. Even though we're freaking amazing. Even though we're so much better off than we think we may be if we find ourselves comparing our first-attempt at a DIY project to the perfectly curated Pins on Pinterest.

Your inbox isn't going to halt on sending you notifications and your social media feeds aren't going to stop scrolling for you.

So now is the time to simplify things. 

Now, more than ever, you need to take your own world by your own hands and figure out what deserves your attention and angst and what simply does not.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Try scheduling time to tackle your next project (in increments) and when it comes to the digital clutter - log off, walk away or go outside.

Whether you're a stay-at-home mom, working professional and/or an adult with dreams, you've got bigger fish to fry than to worry about these types of things cluttering your life.

Good luck - let me know how it goes in the comments section!

Interested in the whole less is more idea? Subscribe to my free email list below and you'll be sent monthly tips and insights related to all things simple living including invites to future webinars.