As I steer away from mindless internet surfing and over-checking email during my 90 days of discipline, I’m diving even deeper into my great joy of reading. I listen to audiobooks during my morning walks and read other books throughout the day although I only read fiction in the evening. I don’t have any goals around how many books I want to read or listen to. I just like to have a non-fiction and fiction book going at the same time so I can dip in to exactly what I need anytime.
Why I let go of my books:
When I first started decluttering, books were a protected category. I never thought I’d let go of the books I’d collected over decades and moved from state to state, and home to home. After all, less does not mean nothing. After I let go of most of my other stuff though, I revisited my vow to hold on to my books. I rarely reread them, so why was I keeping them? Eventually, I let them go. I kept a few, but let hundreds go. I let them go simply because I didn’t have a good reason to hold on to them. Now books come into my life, inspire, entertain, or educate and then move on.
I don’t save most of my books, although I do keep a few. Some I check out of the library and return, others I purchase and give away on Instagram or pass on to friends. Letting go of my books hasn’t discouraged my love of reading, but instead created more space and attention to support authors and discover new books. I recommend a gentle approach to letting go of your books when you are ready.
My books (reading now, read recently or reading soon):
I love listening to books when I’m walking in the morning or doing things around the house. I can’t write, drive or do anything that requires much of my attention and listen to an audiobook at the same time though. It just doesn’t work for me.
When I mentioned my no-surf challenge (becoming more intentional with my phone and internet use), I didn’t tell you that it’s part of a bigger commitment around discipline and habits. While I highly recommend one habit change at a time, because I’ve been at this habit changing thing for more than a decade, I’m ready to go all in for 90 days.
I often become completely undisciplined in the summer; working less, traveling more, eating more, lounging around more, drinking more and staying up later. I don’t want to do that this year.
Why 90 days?
I’m a champ at 30 day challenges and I’m curious to see how much more powerful 90 days of consistent habit changes will be. I’m writing a book, creating new speaking presentations for events later this year and changing some things up around here. I’ll have to be very focused to do that while still making time for non-work things like family dinners, beautiful hikes and other summer adventures.
This is what my 90 days of discipline will look like:
Very simple, clean diet (no sugar, alcohol, processed foods + similar meals)
Lunch: some combo of eggs, potatoes, avocado and veggies
Dinner: some combo of big salad, veggies, + some fish or seafood a few times a week
Occasionally I’ll add rice, hummus, strawberries, and corn tortillas to the mix
Consistent 2-3 hour morning routine including:
In addition to my morning walk and yoga, I’m adding 3-6 hours of high intensity (heart pumping) exercise each week.
No mindless internet surfing.
I’m scheduling time for work related social media, book research, email and business related internet things, deleting email from my phone and any other distracting apps. If I’m still checking my phone frequently, I’ll put an elastic band around it as a reminder to stop.
Dedicated, themed work hours. This one might not stick. I am usually very flexible with my work but want to experiment with more structure 5 days a week to help me get this book written and to create more free time.
1 hour a day of project (blog, course, interview) writing
extra self-care (seeing a movie, getting a massage, taking a hike)
Some weeks may be a mix of 5 of the above, and other weeks may include doubling up, like 2 writing days and only 3 others. My friend Mike, the Productivityist inspired these themed days.
If you are thinking – hey, that’s only 6 hours a day (and 3 of them may be focused on extra self-care), I know! I typically work more than that but I’m curious if I limit myself to fewer more focused hours if I can do better work. Be more with less right? If I’m not thriving with this extra work structure, I’ll change it up.
What I want to see at the end of 90 days:
A 90%+ success rate. That gives me 9 days of being undisciplined if I need it.
A completed manuscript of new book.
More energy, creativity, focus, and clarity.
How I will stay accountable:
I’ll give you a monthly update here and a weekly update here on Instagram. Because of some extra travel this week, my 90 days will begin on July 8th.
How can you create your own 90-days of discipline?
Start with what you want to see at the end of 90 days and then choose habit changes that will support that. Write them down. Identify a 90-day date range. Share with someone (friends, family, or on Instagram or other social media) for accountability. Don’t worry about how many things you are changing. It might be only one! Experiment with consistency and discipline and at the end of each month, shift things around that aren’t working.
If this isn’t the right time, don’t force it. I’ve been looking forward to and planning this for months. Schedule 90 days that work best for you. If this is anything like any 30-day challenge I’ve done, I know the first 2 weeks will be tough, but then the goodness will kick in and make it all worthwhile.
P.S. I have an exciting update for you! Last week I promised to match up to $1500 of your donations to Back on My Feet. In less than 24 hours, with the match, we raised more than $6000. I offered my e-books as a thank you for donating any amount thru June 27th and I want to extend that offer until we’ve donated $10,000 to Back on My Feet. See the details on how to get your book here.
Have you ever dreamed about running the New York City Marathon? The entry drawing for the 2018 marathon happened back in February but if you donate or raise $3000, Back on My Feet will enter you to run in this year’s marathon on November 4th (and include a bunch of amazing perks). Secure your guaranteed entry into the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon to help combat homelessness. Back on My Feet combats homelessness through the power of running, community support, and essential employment and housing resources.
I’ve personally donated $2600 and will add another $400 to match the first $3000 donation.
Donate here and let me know via email or contact email@example.com for more information.
We’ve all experienced that moment when we don’t know if we matter. We question if our story matters, if our place in the world matters, what our purpose is, if our contribution is enough and if we are enough. Luckily for most of us, these questions come and go. We find our place and our people. We connect to our hearts. We know that what we bring to the world is enough.
But what about the people who don’t know and due to many different situations, lose everything — no place to live, estranged from their families and friends, sometimes completely disconnected from themselves due to drugs, mental illness, or both? Do they know they matter? Do we show them when we walk by them on the streets, or do we look away? Do we treat homeless people like people or like a problem?
For me the answer varies. My daughter and I used to volunteer on a food truck serving homeless communities, and I’ve continued my mission to serve by donating money, clothing and other items and even making sandwiches and hand delivering them to homeless people in my city. I have a heart for homeless people, but let me be honest. There are the other times too, when I’m in a hurry or I feel uncomfortable. I walk right by. I don’t make eye contact. I don’t demonstrate in any way that they matter. And maybe homeless people don’t expect it or think they deserve anything but they do. Everyone deserves to be fed with food, warmth, shelter and love. Maybe when you know you matter, you have a little hope. And with a little hope, anything is possible.
This year, I’m inviting you to help me support Back on My Feet, an organization committed to helping homeless people get back on their feet through the joy of running. The volunteers from Back on My Feet let homeless people know they matter. They don’t walk by and look in the other direction. Instead they invite them for a run. I want to help them with this really important work. I don’t run but I can give and I thought it would be really cool if we gave as a community.
I was inspired to choose Back on My Feet this year because my dear friend Rachel’s husband (who is also my dear friend) is deeply invested in this organization. His name is Terence and he works for Back on My Feet. He cares deeply about his work, his mission and the people he serves. He also cares for his friends and family in a really special way. The last time I was in New York City, we went for bagels in his neighborhood. I was asking him about Back on My Feet, and the volunteers dedicated to waking up at 5:30 am (yes, 5:30 a.m.) to run with homeless people and he said, “sometimes you can’t tell who is helping who.” He continued, “this isn’t a running club, this is a human connection club.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of that. I want to be part of a human connection club.
So, how does it work? What happens to the homeless people who run with Back on My Feet?
After running with 90% attendance for 30 days in the program, members earn the opportunity to move into the second phase of the program called Next Steps, which provides educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals and housing resources. Over 80% of individuals who start move into the Next Steps phase. This is a really big deal!
My heart for the homeless and Terence’s dedication to making all people feel like they matter inspired this collaboration. I hope you’ll join us.
I’ll match your donation and give you a book!
You can read more about Back on My Feet here, but if you’d like me to match your donation, please donate by clicking here. There are options for donation amounts including an “other” button where you can contribute whatever you’d like. I’m not kidding when I say that even donations of $1.00 or $2.00 will make a big difference. Tens of thousands of people will see this invitation to help, so $1.00 each would be incredible.
My digital books, Simple Ways to Be More with Less and Mini-missions for Simplicity are available on Amazon for $2.99 each. If you make your donation by Wednesday, June 27th, I’ll send you one (your choice) when you let me know you’ve made a donation. You don’t have to tell me how much you donated or send a receipt. I trust you! Email and let me know you’ve donated and which book you want and I will send you a PDF version.
Everyone Deserves to Be Fed and Loved
I understand that choosing to live with less, to climb out of debt, and to do work I love is a privilege. I’ll never take it for granted and will always use it to give back.
Tonight I’m attending the Back on My Feet annual fundraising event in NYC. I’d love to share with my friends Rachel and Terence and the Back on My Feet staff and volunteers that the Be More with Less Community met the $1500 match in less than 24 hours so please don’t wait if you want to give. I want to show them we know their work matters, and that they matter.
Do you surf the internet when you are bored? Do we still say surfing the internet?
No matter what we call it, we still surf the internet. Usually when we are bored or tired. Sometimes we surf because we are “looking for something” or need to “check something” but it always ends up the same — minutes and hours pass and we’ve forgotten how we got here. Mindy Kaling sums it up best, “The Internet makes it extraordinarily difficult for me to focus. One small break to look up exactly how almond milk is made, and four hours later I’m reading about the Donner Party and texting all my friends: Did you guys know about the Donner Party and how messed up that was? Text me back so we can talk about it!”
Surfing the internet should really be called surfacing the internet because we can’t go all in when we don’t know where we are going.
You understand. We’ve all been there. We’ve all found great benefit from the internet too but if we could harness all of our surfacing the internet hours and use them more intentionally, perhaps we’d have more time for all the things we say we don’t have time for.
I’m writing a book over the next few months and I don’t want my book writing to look like this:
Instead, to have a better book writing experience, to write a better book and hopefully create more time for things I really want to do, I’m committing to a 90-day no-surf challenge. I’m creating a list of things I’d rather do than surf the internet. I’ll keep the list close by, so when I feel the pull of the internet, I’ll go to my list first. Before jumping into the internet waves, I’ll also have a specific plan and set a time limit before diving in. I’ll go in, get what I need and then come back up for air before getting lost in the abyss.
I’m starting my no-surf challenge on July 1 and will share more details soon. If you want to join me …
choose a time frame and specific dates
make a list of things you’d rather do than surf the internet (see suggestions below for inspiration)
commit to having a plan and set a time limit (and timer if necessary) before diving in
Ironically, you need the internet for some of these 21 simple things but that’s not an excuse for mindless surfing. If you are joining me for a no-surf challenge, use the rules above before diving in.
3. Breathe. Stop before you scroll and take a deep breath in and a slow breath out.
4. Dumb down your smart phone. Try this before your no-surf challenge. Turn off all notifications. Delete or hide your surfiest apps. Put an elastic band around your phone as a reminder to think about where you are going before you swipe or scroll.
6. See what life is like with something you think you can’t get through the day without. Put a 30-day hold on your thing. Is it one of the following or something else?
Coffee (I know, I’m sorry.)
7. Grow something. I’m not good at keeping plants alive but I do have a little pot of succulents that have been in my home for almost a full year. I love growing these tiny plants. If you are feeling ambitious, create a herb wall.
8. If you don’t love your job, start a side thing around something you love. Create a microbusiness that may eventually lead to replacing your job.
9. Cook one of your favorite childhood meals.
10. Take a forest bath. If there isn’t a hiking trail nearby, surround yourself with the forest you have. Look for nearby parks, community gardens or anywhere with greens or trees.
11. Send letters or postcards. Keep a small supply nearby and whenever you feel like surfing the internet, write to a friend and tell them how happy you are that they are in your life.
19. Start a book club. Go here to find a book you can read, snacks to make and other goodies for your guests
20. Remember something that made you laugh really hard. Laugh about it again.
21. Close the gap between inspiration and action. Review this list and ignore 90% of it. Pick 2 or 3 things that you are interested in and take action.
One more simple thing:Subscribe to Be More with Less if you don’t already. Moving forward, I’ll be sharing additional articles and opportunities with people who subscribe that I won’t share here on the blog.
P.S. Soulful Simplicity is now available (Hardcover and Kindle) in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.
The one thing that stresses people out about traveling is packing.
I used to be one of those people.
I eased my stress about packing by bringing everything with me. I was a chronic over-packer. And, if the situation ever came up where I had packed everything and I still had a little space left in my suitcase, I felt like I’d won the lottery. More space = more stuff. I’d run around looking for other things that would fill the empty space. I might need that stuff. You know … just in case.
One time I went to Mexico for less than a week. I brought 5 pairs of shoes plus the ones I was wearing, and then wore flip-flops for the entire trip. What was I thinking?
I love to travel and see the world. Living with less has inspired me to travel with less. Everything I pack fits into a small carry-on suitcase and tote bag or I don’t bring it. That goes for a trip that last several days or several weeks. If you love to travel too and want to see the world with a little less baggage, I hope you’ll enjoy my best minimalist packing tips and resources.
How to Pack: packing tips
Pack for half of your trip. If you are going to be away for a week, ask yourself what you need for 3 or 4 days. Don’t be afraid to outfit-repeat. People barely notice what you wear in your day-to-day life. It’s unlikely anyone will notice or care while you travel.
Create packing lists. Before your next trip, list everything you bring with you. Check each thing off when you use it. At the end of the trip you’ll know you can leave anything home that wasn’t crossed off on that type of trip. Keep your list handy with details about where you went and what time of year, and save so the next time you take a similar trip, you’ll know exactly what to pack.
Understand your laundry opportunities. Will you be staying somewhere with a washing machine? I’ll rent an apartment from Airbnb specifically because it has a washing machine if I am staying somewhere for longer than 2-3 days. Some hotels have laundry rooms for guests. At the very least, you’ll likely have access to your bathroom sink where you can wash and line dry certain items.
Know when to fold ’em. I’ve tried rolling, stacking and folding my clothes for packing and haven’t noticed a big space difference. In a recent article in Real Simple magazine, author Hitha Palepu says, “I roll my bottoms and fold my tops—I find my clothes end up with fewer wrinkles and I can fit more in my bag.” The only way to really know what works best for you is to experiment. I recommend rolling your clothes for the first leg of your trip and then folding or stacking them on the return trip. See which method you prefer.
Create a travel day uniform. Assign one outfit for your travel day. Then you don’t have to think about what to wear on the plane, train or however you are traveling. No matter wear you are going, your travel uniform can be the same. I typically wear a black pair of leggings, short-sleeved shirt or tank, and black zip up sweatshirt with a scarf (on or in my tote bag). Even if I’m traveling to a warm destination, I know I’ll get cold on the plane.
Remember … just in case means never. When you notice you are adding items to your suitcase just in case you might need it, stop. Ask yourself why. Will you really use it or (like I was) do you feel compelled to fill the empty space in your suitcase? Can you get it at your destination if you need it? What’s the worst thing that will happen if you don’t bring it?
Don’t forget what matters. If all of your focus is on your stuff and what to pack, you may miss out on what really matters like connecting with people on your travels or enjoying new locations. More importantly, don’t forget about you. Take care of yourself while traveling.
Free webinar about dressing with less: Dressing with less makes packing less so much easier and more appealing. If you want to hear more about how I let go of most of my clothing and the guilt that came with them, and why I continue to dress with 33 items or less every 3 months, join me for a free Q & A webinar. You don’t have to sign up or give me your email address. Join me Wednesday, June 13th at 6:00 PM EST (NYC time)using this link to join. If you can’t make it, I’ll share a recording too.
I’ve been sick for a week. It’s just a cold but I’m frustrated that I don’t feel well, that I don’t want to do things, or make things, and that I don’t have the energy I usually do. Feeling like this reminds me about what simplicity can’t do for us.
Simplicity is an amazing tool. It’s helped me to make some big changes in my life. Thanks to simplicity, I live well with MS, changed careers, and typically feel way better than I used to when I was deep in clutter, debt, and stress.
While living a simpler life with less stress can add more health, wealth and happiness to our lives, it can’t prevent every mess.
Even though my closet is tidy, I still caught a cold.
Even though I’m debt free, anxiety still gets the best of me.
Even though my calendar has tons of white space, I still get hurt, inside and out.
Even though my home is clutter-free, there are days when I am a hot mess.
We can’t simplify our way into a perfect life, nor should we want to. I bring it up though incase you are just getting started, or struggling, or comparing, or just curious. I paint a beautiful picture of minimalism and simplifying but some days, even with simplicity, life is messy. We are messy. It’s part of the human condition. Highs, lows, ups, downs … all of it comes with being human, even when we’ve simplified.
I have to work on myself every day. Feeling calm and centered doesn’t come naturally. I over react when I want to under react. I hold on when I mean to let go. In between all the lovely parts are messy parts. Sometimes I think I’ve got it all together but unless I’m intentionally focused, I’m all over the place. Living with less, practicing a morning routine, and taking really good care of myself helps me be more me. A little bit each day matters more than trying to squeeze it all in over a weekend. Consistency matters more than intensity.
Life is messy. Simplicity helps but it’s not a cure-all. We have to keep coming back to ourselves. Even when it’s hectic or sad or scary out there, we can still be our warm, loving, amazing, gracious selves. Just because things are crazy around you doesn’t mean things have to be crazy within you.
On the days when you aren’t your best, and when things are messy, be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect or demand more than you have to give. Be patient and remind yourself that things always turn around. Treat yourself like you would treat a really good friend having a bad day.
Invite simplicity in to improve your life, not to perfect it. Even the messes have something to offer.
When I decided to eliminate as much stress from my life as possible in 2006, I had no idea that the clothes in my closet were stressful. I knew there was stress in my diet, in the way I managed money (not well) and that stress was in my schedule and in my job, but my wardrobe? I actually thought my clothes and more specifically, my shopping for clothes was a stress reducer.
I rarely shopped because I needed new clothes, but instead shopped to feel better, to relieve the pain of boredom and working a job I didn’t enjoy, and because I honestly believed that new shoes would make me happier.
When I challenged myself to dress with less in 2010 by creating minimalist fashion challenge Project 333, I realized that all the shopping was creating more stress in the form of spending time, money and energy that I didn’t really have. And, even more surprising, I noticed I had all kinds of stress and emotion wrapped up in the clothing hanging in my closet. I’ll tell you more about that later but first, let’s talk closet detoxing.
It may take years to declutter your home, choose a new career or dig your way out of debt, but if you want to reduce stress, feel lighter, and create more space, time, and money for yourself within a few hours or a few days, consider this closet detox.
Pre-tox (a few days before your detox)
Block off a whole day or a few hours 2 days in a row.
Stock up on snacks.
Make a playlist of your favorite upbeat music.
Closet Detox: 10 Steps to End Closet Chaos (+ what you must give up to be free)
1. Take a picture or two of your closet.
This is your “before” pic, your “let’s never go back here” reminder. If you are feeling brave, post on Instagram or another social platform with hashtag #project333.
2. Empty your closet … yep the whole thing.
Get all that stuff out of there. For extra motivation to complete the project, toss all of your clothing and closet goodies on your bed.
3. Find your other wardrobe related items.
If (like me) you have clothes, accessories or shoes in other closets, drawers, boxes or secret hiding places. Drag that stuff out too and add it to your closet pile.
4. Take another picture.
This is your “OMG I had no idea I had so much stuff” picture. If you are feeling brave, post on Instagram or another social platform with hashtags #project333 or #bemorewithless.
Take a good luck at your pile of stuff and feel the weight and the shock. This is a really important step. Being offended by the investment of time, money and energy I’d made on a pile of things I barely used helped me let go. It will help you too.
5. Sort all the things.
Turn up the music and break for snacks as needed during this step.
Pile 1: Love: I love these items. They fit me well and I wear them frequently.
Pile 2: Maybe: I want to keep this but I don’t know why. This could include off-season items too.
Pile 3: Donate: These items don’t fit my body or my life.
Pile 4: Trash: These items are in poor condition. (repurpose if possible)
6. Remove all the things.
Before you add anything back into your closet, remove the things in the piles you aren’t keeping. Remove them from the closet, the room and your home. Don’t be tempted to revisit these items by delaying their farewell.
7. Store all the things.
If there are items you are unsure about, box them up. Don’t give them away and don’t keep them in your closet. Create some separation by hiding these items for at least 3 months. Revisit them after dressing with less for several months. By then you’ll have cut the emotional ties you have with those items and you’ll have more information about what you really want or need in your closet.
8. Choose your own adventure.
Now you are left with clothes you wear, clothes that fit your body and your lifestyle, and hopefully clothing that you enjoy wearing. Here’s where you get to choose your own adventure …
Adventure #1: Put all of those items away and admire your lighter closet.
Adventure #2: Try Project 333. Take things to the next level and narrow down to 33 items including clothes, jewelry, accessories and shoes for the next 3 months. See more detailed challenge rules here. Box up the rest and hide it.
9. Capture the light.
Take a few pictures of your detoxed closet. Inspire us and post on Instagram or another social platform with hashtags #project333 or #bemorewithless.
10. Let the guilt go too.
When you let go of anything in your closet, let the guilt go with it. The best way to let go of the guilt is to let joy replace the guilt. Let love replace the guilt. Remind yourself that you simply don’t have room in your life for guilt.
P.S. You can apply a version of these steps to any drawer, cabinet, closet or room in your home.
Closet Detox: What you must give up to be free
I share this list at the risk of sounding preachy, but it made such a big difference in my life to give these items up that I thought it might be helpful to share. I promise I’m not preaching. You know what’s best for you.
If you want to be free, give up clothes and other items …
that don’t fit your body today. Hide all of the items that don’t fit. Too small? Too big? Either way, get it out. Even if you struggle with weight fluctuation, give yourself a break. Your too small clothes aren’t making you smaller and your too big clothes aren’t making you bigger. See what happens when you accept the person you are and the body you have today and dress for that. If that changes, change your clothes.
someone gave you that you never wear. Accept the gift with the intention it was given and then move on. If it’s something you would never wear, pass it on.
that don’t fit your lifestyle. Are you holding on to clothes you wore for a prior life, or for a life you aspire to have? Dress for the life you have right now and you will move through it with more ease and grace. The rest can go.
you spent way too much money on. If you don’t let go now, you will pay again and again and again. You have paid enough.
that make you feel sad or bad. If there are items in your closet that are dragging you down because they remind you of a sad occasion, or a bad time, or because they make you feel like you aren’t good enough in any way, know that you are allowing that to happen. Give the items up and you give up the negative emotions too.
If you want to hear more about how I let go of most of my clothing and the guilt that came with them, and why I continue to dress with 33 items or less every 3 months, join me for a free Q & A webinar. You don’t have to sign up or give me your email address. Just save the date – Wednesday, June 13th at 6:00 PM EST (NYC time) and use this link to join. If you can’t make it, I’ll share a recording too.
If only we could put happiness in a bottle and access it when we are feeling down. I’m learning that feeling happy is not only dependent on what’s happening around us, but on what’s happening on the inside too.
I don’t know the secret to happiness or how to feel happy all the time, but here are a few things I do know about happiness.
It’s ok not to feel ok all the time.
Happiness comes and goes and then it comes back again.
People aren’t always as happy as they want you to think they are.
We can go through something really hard or sad and still feel happy.
We have more power than we think when it comes to creating happiness.
Two of my favorite people, Marc and Angel Chernoff specialize in cultivating love and happiness. They study positive psychology, write about what they learn and even host an annual conference to encourage others to live differently by thinking differently. They share amazing, inspiring information but what I really love about them is that they walk the walk. I’ve spent time with them, had very meaningful conversations with them, watched them with their son, their parents, friends, and clients. They are the real deal. Their desire to lift people up is palpable.
I’m happy to celebrate the release of their new book, Getting Back to Happy. It invites us to change our lives by changing our thoughts. The powerful lessons and action steps delivered throughout the book mixed with beautiful stories of people experiencing heartbreak, trauma, and hopelessness who rise up don’t just bring us back to happy. They bring us back to hope, to love, and to trusting ourselves to become who we want to be and to live rich, full lives full of what matters most.
Again, while I don’t know the secret to happiness, what I do know is that we have the power to infuse our days with little boosts of happiness, even when things are messy, or painful.
If you need a little extra happiness today, I recommend the following happiness boosts …
Making someone else happy. Send flowers, or a text message, or something else. Boosting someone’s happiness always boosts mine too.
Be Grateful. Find something – even the tiniest thing to be grateful for.
Take a joy walk. Leave your step counter at home and walk for the joy of it. Notice the beauty around you. Make your walk an adventure to spot things that make you smile.
Shorten your to-do list. If I’m overwhelmed with too many things to do, I don’t feel happy. When I lighten up my list, I lighten my heart at the same time.
Write your happy down. Reflect on the ordinary, everyday things that make you happy and write them down. Use your list as a reminder that even when everything feels chaotic or messy, you have a reserve of happiness to tap into. Things on my list include cuddles with this pup, sunrises and sunsets, music and coffee.
Even though we know how to declutter, our procrastination tendencies kick in when it’s time to get started. We think, “today is the day to start decluttering” and our friend, procrastination steps in and offers the following …
“There is so much to do.”
“Where should we start?”
“Is that really the best place to start?”
“What’s on Netflix?”
“Did you exercise today?”
“This is going to take forever.”
“Come on, it’s your day off. Do you really want to spend it decluttering?”
“There will be plenty of time tomorrow to get started.”
The secret to combating procrastination is to build momentum. It also helps to trick procrastination into having fun. Instead of making your decluttering project a big chore, turn it into a challenge. Bonus: a challenge may interest decluttering resistant family members too.
Procrastination will fight our intention to spend a full day decluttering, but 10 minutes? We can do anything for 10 minutes. Choose a space, set a timer for 10 minutes and put 10 items from each space in a box or bag. By the time you finish, procrastination won’t know what hit him. Use the momentum you create by tackling another space, or going for 10 more items in the space you are in.
You may not need to declutter all 10 of these spaces so choose the ones that resonate with you and add on spaces as needed.
Dump the contents from your daily bag. Only add the items you use back in. Let go of the rest.
Get rid of old cosmetics (see this for expiry guidelines), expired prescriptions and OTC meds (here’s how to dispose of them). Take a sweep through each drawer and cabinet. If there are unopened items (toothpaste, shampoo, soap) or similar items that you know you will never use, donate to a local homeless shelter.
3. Hall Closet
I’ve never seen the inside of your hall closet, but I can almost guarantee there are things in there you don’t need, don’t want and don’t even remember you have. I’ll be checking my hall closet this afternoon!
If you bought food for a special diet and then never did the special diet or opened the food packaging, donate it to a food pantry. If there are other things you never use, let it go and make space. Or, challenge yourself to use everything in your pantry before buying anything new.
Make the space near where you sleep simple and peaceful.
6. Outdoor space
Tackle balconies, porches, front yards and backyards. Even when it’s outside, clutter is clutter.
From the glove box to the trunk, do a sweep of your car. You’ll probably eliminate that annoying rattling noise in the process.
If your inbox has become a 2 year to-do list, start deleting for 10 minutes at a time. If it’s a lost cause, consider email bankruptcy.
9. Head space
What’s swirling around up there? Write down 10 things that are on your mind, weighing you down, and preventing you from thinking clearly. The simple process of moving your worries from brain to paper will help you figure out the next step.
Open your banking account and see what you’ve spent money on over the last 30 days. Make a list of the 10 things you want to spend less on, and cancel monthly subscriptions that aren’t serving you anymore.
Now that you’ve let procrastination know that you are the boss, consider these other challenges to continue to build decluttering momentum.
Decluttering excuses help us hold on to crap we don’t need. If you struggle to let go (and most of us do), you might find yourself using one or more of the following decluttering excuses. I’ve used them all and in talking with people over the years, I hear them come up a lot.
1. I might need that someday.
This is a lie I told myself over and over again. I still catch myself doing it. What I’ve realized though is that most of the time, just in case means never. While there will always be unique situations, this excuse (for the most part) is how we procrastinate letting go.
If this is your favorite excuse, I recommend creating a just in case box. As you are decluttering and come across things you want to save just in case, put it in the box. When the box is full, seal it and hide it. Get it out of sight. Set a reminder to donate the box in 90 days. Chances are you won’t remember what’s inside, and you won’t think about it at all until you are reminded.
2. I want my stuff to go to a good home.
During most of my decluttering efforts, I didn’t struggle with this one. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about where my stuff went, I just knew that I could do more good in the world once all of the excess was gone. I didn’t want to get hung up on where each thing went because I knew that would only delay the process. Find a place to sell or donate your things that is “good enough” and stop filling all the spaces after you let go. It’s the repetitive cycle of buy-declutter-buy-declutter that is depleting our resources and filling us with guilt for needlessly spending and searching for fulfillment in the wrong places.
The Buy Nothing Project may help you find a good home nearby. The rules are simple: “Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, we’re strictly a gift economy.” You can find a Facebook Group in your local area and offer what you don’t need anymore.
3. It’s not hurting anyone.
This was one of my favorite excuses to hold on. I wrote the following about letting go of some of my sentimental items in Soulful Simplicity, “In an effort to hold on tight, I thought, “It’s not hurting anything or anyone to keep this stuff.” Then I remembered that I want my quality of life to be more in line with “How is this helping?” instead of “How is this not hurting?” I wanted to create an environment that allowed me to be fully present.
Once I identified why I wanted to let it all go, the paper and plastic stuff that made up my memories didn’t have a hold on me or my heart anymore. Now, instead of capturing moments and boxing them up, I embrace and absorb them. The next time you think, “It’s not hurting.” ask “How is it helping?”
Decluttering and letting go for good is a challenging process. Pay attention to your decluttering excuses, the lessons, and the lightness you feel on the other side. You’ll learn so much about yourself and how you want to move through the world.