The aSweatLife Ambassadors are on a journey to live their best lives this year. We took them through a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal setting session where they visualized one-year, five-year and ten-year goals and did what we all sometimes have a hard time doing, saying those goals aloud. We partnered with Jenny Finkel to face our fears of getting upside down in yoga and in doing improv, and found that the two had a lot in common. After a combo of a treadmill and partner ab workout at CrossTown Fitness, our latest workshop focused on de-cluttering with the Clutter Curator, Sarah Morrone.
In this workshop we learned a few key things about clutter. First, clutter is way more than just a crowded closet. Second, you can start de-cluttering right away following a few simple steps. Finally, shift your habits to live a less cluttered life from now on.
So, what is clutter?
Yes, of course clutter can manifest in a traditional sense, taking up space under your bed, in your fridge or in your dresser. But it’s also related to what takes up space in your life; it’s anything that keeps you from moving efficiently or freely. That can be in the form of commitments that don’t serve you or processes that slow you down or relationships.
“It’s hard to stop and ask [yourself], ‘What am I investing my energy in?'” Sarah said.
But when you do, it makes you realize that each moment of your day is precious, and if a commitment or task is a perpetual time-suck that doesn’t ultimately make you better, it isn’t worth investing your energy in it. It becomes clutter.
Okay, so there’s clutter everywhere. Where do I even begin to de-clutter?
Start small, Sarah advised us. We’ve heard some great advice about digital de-cluttering, and Sarah confirmed that our digital lives are one of the easiest places to spend five minutes a day gutting out and cleaning up.
When it may feel too daunting to undertake a full clearing out of your house, start with your phone. Sarah recommends adding only the apps you use every single day to your home screen. Everything else can be grouped together in folders that make sense to you.
Next, tackle your emails. Make your inbox a place where only action items live. These are the emails that require a response from you or ask you to do something specific. Categorize everything else into folders that make sense for you and your needs.
Finally, assess your photo album situation(s). If you have hundreds and hundreds of photos, set a timer for five minutes and spend that time deleting photos you don’t need or want. Do that daily until you’ve paired down your photo library and have only the photos you really want to keep.
The biggest way to keep digital clutter to a minimum is to tackle it before it’s a task. “Going through the mail each day for 15 seconds is far more enjoyable than sitting for 30 minutes (or more) going through months of mail that is no longer relevant,” Sarah says.
You can take the principle of setting a timer and getting to work into other clutter-ridden areas of your life. Go easy on yourself. It takes time to break down old habits and build new ones.
Now that I’ve made some progress, how do I make sure I stay clutter-free?
“This isn’t a crash diet!” Sarah told us. If you’re looking to lose weight quickly, sure a crash diet may work, but it’s not sustainable, and it doesn’t do anything to form new habits. To form the habits you want, you have to be aware of what your current habits are, and then you can actively focus on shifting them to what you want them to be.
“Picture your best self and how you’re going to get to that,” Sarah said. “Then think about how you’re going to remove the excess in your life – the time-suckers, the clutter – that aren’t serving that mission.”
When Sarah works with clients, the mission statement she has them create is essential to building new habits. It’s the guide post for all decisions they make about what they’re going to keep and what they’re going to get rid of, and it’s how they go about making future decisions.
A lot of times, people feel guilt about getting rid of things because they hold sentimental value or they spent a lot of money on that thing, but if it doesn’t serve the purpose of helping you live out your mission statement, it doesn’t add value to your life and you can let it go.
You can feel lighter and brighter today by starting small and setting a timer to go through an area that feels particularly cluttered. But when you think about living your best life, it may take some time to craft your mission statement. And if you need help, Sarah can get you started.