We left off on "spring cleaning" and I think it is important for us to get into the habit of keeping our lives organized as well. We talked a bit before in How To Declutter Your Home and Your Life - The Basics about the effects that "clutter" (both emotional and physical) have on our lives. Many times, it can make us feel overwhelmed or depressed and it often drains us of our energy. Clutter is no fun for anyone and can certainly add stress to an already-stressful life!
Since we carry "clutter" in our minds as well, we need to think about organizing our minds so that we can live our lives in the way we were meant to live them. I will say that I firmly believe that God has a purpose for each and every person on earth. We may not always know what that purpose is, but it is important to live WITH a purpose. It is no fun to just float around "doing" every day instead of "living". How awful would it be to feel like you are here by accident? Do you ever feel like you just "exist" to get your "to do" list done? That's NOT the plan He has for you...let's DECLUTTER AND FOCUS! :)
We first have to begin with a vision for our lives. What I mean by that is, you have to think about what your life would be like if you could do ANYTHING...if you could have any goals, go anywhere, accomplish whatever you want, etc. Ask yourself these questions:
-What would you do to earn a living?
-What would your day look like?
-What would you do for fun?
-Where would you live?
-What would you do more/less of?
These questions will inspire you to take a look at your life as it is right now. Do we ever really get a chance to do that? Some of us may, but I rarely sit down to ponder it. I just know that my life right now is NOT what God wants for me.
So, answer the questions above and see where you stand with where you want your life to be. Are you on track? Do you feel like you need to regroup and rethink your goals for your life? Are you ready to change your thinking? (Even baby steps make a huge difference!) Let's do it!
Write the answer to these questions down, maybe in a journal or notebook. Keep them handy so that you can reference them on this journey. They will help keep your mind focused on the ultimate goal. But first, we have to get rid of all of the "junk" in the way!
When we identify the "clutter" in our lives, we have to realize that our FEELINGS about the clutter are what determines our THOUGHTS about it. We then turn these THOUGHTS into ACTIONS. For instance, I have a "to-do" list sometime 25 items long every day. How do I feel about the list? I HATE it! I feel like it will never end and it makes me feel...well...hopeless at times! UGH! I'm sure many of you feel my frustration. I end up working all day long from morning until night trying to get everything done. I fail more often than not:
-The feeling - overwhelming hopelessness
-The thought - "I am not a good mom if I fail at my list"
-The action - I work around the clock on the list and totally stress-out. Not cool at all.
Make sense? Now, I am not saying that lists are bad. I actually think they are important. BUT, it's a matter of prioritizing what I put on that list that is going to make the difference. We'll talk about that in a bit.
Let's try one more example: Say you have an old stool that you used to sit on at your grandparent's home when you were young. The stool was very special because it was stuffed with shredded money. Yes, shredded money. How fun is that, right? Well, the stool smelled like smoke, but after your grandparents died, you NEEDED to have that stool to remind you of them. Well, over time, it was put in storage since you didn't want the smell in your home around your kids. And the stool was burnt orange, not really the color of your decor. So, it sits in storage along with the other items you couldn't part with. You LOVE your grandparents and could never part with that stool. Using the FEELINGS to THOUGHTS to ACTIONS, let's see what happens:
The feeling - great memories and love
The thought - you don't want to end the memory
The action - you keep the stool even though it is of no use.
Ding, ding, ding...I found clutter! And, yes, the story is true. That was an awesome stool! My solution to that clutter? I kept a tiny baggie of the shredded money, took a photo of the stool and kept them in a memory book. Bye- bye stool and bye-bye one big piece of clutter. I still love my grandparents and my memory of them hasn't diminished because I got rid of the clutter.
Now, I don't think we need to throw EVERYTHING away. But, really...take a moment to examine your clutter, whatever it may be. What feelings and thoughts do you have about your "clutter". How can you get rid of it? This doesn't deal with only the physical clutter, but the emotional as well.
Let's take a look at an example of emotional clutter: Let's say you had a best friend in high school through college that betrayed you in such a way that you "never" could forgive them. Maybe you see that person around your town and you do everything to avoid them. Or, maybe you walk right by them with your nose held high in the air to make sure they know you are still upset with them. We've all been there, right? Well, this is emotional clutter. It drains you of energy and gives you useless stress.
-The feeling: betrayal
-The thought: your friend must "pay" for what she did
-The action: you go out of your way to be rude or to avoid her
The solution: FORGIVE them and get over yourself! Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to FEEL like it didn't hurt you or that you condone what they did. You just have to tell yourself that people make mistakes and you are no longer going to waste your energy by dwelling on it. End of story and end of clutter.
And yes, I even spoke to her one day when she got in line behind me at the post office after almost 17 years. If I can do it, so can you! :)
OK, so I got on a bit of a tangent about clutter. But it was only to further illustrate some types of clutter and what clutter can do to us emotionally. It is draining. Confront the uncomfortable feelings you have about your clutter and see if there is something you can do about it. Once you identify it, it is much easier to deal with!
Now, we need to get our minds organized...here's what you can do:
-Jot down some notes about your goals and what you want for
your life. Maybe keep a notebook or journal especially for this?
Break down your goals into small, achievable steps.
-Take your list and prioritize your "To-Do" lists. Do you really
need to do everything on the list? Can something wait? Trade
unnecessary tasks for some "me" time each day. We can't work
20 hours a day and expect to be successful at anything. Cut the
20 hours a day and expect to be successful at anything. Cut the
list down to NECESSARY tasks. You will get them done
more quickly and probably even more successfully this way.
-GET SLEEP! If you can get 7-8 hours a night, you will find
you get WAY more accomplished than if you would if you were
doing your "chores" all day and getting only 5-6 hours. If you
aren't getting 7-8 hours, ask yourself what is stopping you...
-Exercise. Even if it is just a short walk a few times around the
driveway. Do it. No excuses. And no, laundry is not exercise!
-Limit your negative influences. TV, movies, negative people,
negative thoughts... All these affect your mood and carry over
into your thinking...which we now know affects your actions.
"What goes in will come out!" Negative in, negative out.
-Plan your day. I can't believe how crappy I feel on a day that I
have not done this. I still can't figure out how people function
without a plan each day. "Playing it by ear" is not nearly as
effective as planning out when you are going to the store or
when chores have to be done. If we "wait" for a "good" time to
do something, it usually doesn't happen.
This is just a starting point for how to begin organizing our minds and "spring-cleaning" our clutter.
Now, we need to prioritize:
1. Make a list of your top 10 priorities in life. They should reflect what is important to YOU. Not what you want to look like on Facebook or what you want others to think of you. Use YOUR values. Maybe a priority is family time, a family vacation, a strong marriage? These are just some examples. Keep track of this list.
2. Make a list of all of the activities you participate in. Do these activities reflect the priorities that are important to you? Do some activities take up time and give you nothing in return? Figure out what you can cut if you are overwhelmed or not meeting your priorities. Do you really need to be scout leader, soccer coach, dance mom and room mother for your kids' classrooms? Yes, we want to be involved, but what are you compromising in order to do that?
3.Take your calendar and schedule time to start meeting your priorities. If your goal was family time, schedule some activities a few days each month to take the kids to. If your goal is travel, make time to go to AAA to grab some destination books. If you want a strong marriage, schedule a counseling session if needed.
4. Read you list regularly, minimize time spent around negative things or people, say "NO" to unnecessary tasks and...PRAY! :)
OK, so you have homework! I would highly suggest taking time to do this if you REALLY want to get rid of all of the "junk" in your life. It is definitely time for me to do that. I can't WAIT to see where I am at this time next year!
Have you had success with de-cluttering your life? I'd love to hear how you did it! Post some photos on our Facebook page if you have had success in spring-cleaning your rooms, too!