Spring Clean Your Space, Your Stuff and Your Life

Declutter your life on multiple levels and enjoy more peace and productivity.

Posted Mar 29, 2017

Geralt/Pixabay
Source: Geralt/Pixabay

Clutter is stressful.

Sorry, I know the last thing you need is another source of stress, but this kind is actually pretty easy to get rid of, once you begin to recognize its insidious effect on your life.

First, there’s obvious clutter, the kind you can physically see. I’m historically a rather delinquent housekeeper and easily let things pile up (dishes in sink, receipts on the counter, recycling under the sink, clothes on a bedroom chair). I'm proud to say that I have come a long way in this area. Along with several people in my life (friends and coaching clients; we encourage each other regularly), I have quite successfully improved my frequency of clearing up these perpetual sources of clutter. The key is doing a little whenever you can. I work from home a lot of the time and have gotten into the healthy habit of taking regular breaks from sitting at my desk. Taking care of a small area of clutter, such as quickly putting dishes in the dishwasher, is an excellent way to move your body and take a mental break, in addition to being productive and satisfying.

How does your desk look at work? I have at least two colleagues who had to add a second desk to their office. The first desk became so packed with “to do” charts and paperwork, that eventually there was no room left to work. Apparently the most "convenient” solution was to simply get another work surface. Don’t laugh – I guarantee we’ve all been guilty of this kind of self-deception in some area of our lives.

If you can relate to the paper pile nightmare, take a moment to really feel the stress of being continually surrounded by these piles of paperwork. When you walk into your office at the beginning of the day, do they remind you how far behind you are?  How do you feel when you see them? When you leave at the end of the day, do you feel guilty because, yet again, the piles are still there?

You may feel like you’re saving time by not dealing with these yet, but we don’t realize the price of the stress, and guilt, we pay every day that we maintain these piles. And think of all those beleaguered assistants or other colleagues, who have to continually sift through the piles in search of missing documents. These seemingly inert piles of papers are actually an active energy drain.

As an introduction, I chose obvious examples of clutter that most people can relate to. Unfortunately, there are many other more subtle ways that clutter takes over our lives, draining us of our most precious commodities: time, energy, and peace of mind.

What does your financial life look like? Do you organize your receipts, or just throw everything into a pile or drawer, to be dealt with “tomorrow”? I have gotten particularly bad with this in the last year, I used to be much better. Sigh. I have recently signed up for a financial mentoring, program, so hopefully that habit will soon come to an end. Accountability is immensely helpful in changing poor habits.

Have you drawn up your will, addressed your insurance needs, started a regular savings plan? As anyone knows, that gnawing sense of clutter, chaos, or neglect of your finances can be a monumental source of stress.

How about your social life? Does your calendar truly reflect who you are, and the people and activities you most value? Or do you constantly find yourself grumbling about commitments you wish you hadn’t made?

Make a list of every single person in your life (family, friends, close or key acquaintances, work colleagues etc.). Circle the people who mean the most to you.  When did you last see or talk to them? Who do you spend more time with: whoever happens to invite you out this week (which may mostly be casual acquaintances), or those who you really value?

Look at yourself in a mirror. Are there things you haven’t been attending to (such as that rapidly growing waistline) that bother you every time you see yourself?

Make a list of your life priorities. Have you been putting off that much-needed vacation or time of rest because of other obligations that continually crowd out your real plans?

Make an inventory of everything that bothers you, or “clutters” your home, your work life, your leisure time, your finances, your relationships. You’ll likely be surprised at what you discover. So many of us sleepwalk through life, wondering why we feel so stressed, and frustrated. 

Trying to clear all this clutter at once would just be one more stress, but if you tackle it one day and one small triumph at a time, you’ll be delighted by how much better your whole life feels.

Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. is a wellness expert, life and health coach, professional speaker, and flamenco dancer. She has been featured as an expert on the Today Show and other media outlets, and is available for keynote presentations, workshops, and private coaching. Visit susanbiali.com to receive a complimentary eBook, Ten Essential Easy Changes—Boost Mood, Increase Energy & Reduce Stress by Tomorrow.

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Copyright Dr. Susan Biali 2017