The Power of Decluttering: Gaining Clarity of Purpose by Simplifying Your Life
Do you ever feel like your life is cluttered with distractions, commitments, and possessions that don’t really matter to you? Maybe you’re constantly overwhelmed by your to-do list, surrounded by clutter in your physical space, or drowning in a sea of digital notifications and messages. If so, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle with clutter in various areas of our lives, and it can be difficult to find clarity of purpose and get in touch with our core values when we’re constantly distracted and overwhelmed.
It may feel easier to just put up with daily disorganization than to set aside the time, energy, and mental effort required to declutter your life. Recognizing the reasons why you may be hesitant to declutter can help you overcome them:
- Do you feel overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering and not know where to start? If you feel that the task is too large to tackle, you may be tempted to avoid it altogether.
- Decluttering can be a time-consuming process, and you may feel that you don’t have the time to do it.
- If you wait for just the right circumstances before you can start decluttering, this can lead to procrastination and avoidance.
- Decluttering can be a challenging and sometimes unpleasant task, which can impact your motivation to get started.
- You may have developed an emotional attachment to your physical belongings, which can make it difficult to part with them, even if they no longer serve a purpose or take up valuable space.
- You may fear that letting go of possessions may lead to regret or feelings of loss.
- You may feel guilty about getting rid of items that have sentimental value or that were gifts from others. Or you may feel guilty about the money they spent on things that you no longer use.
By taking the time to simplify your life and remove the things that no longer serve you, you can create more space for what really matters and connect with your values and purpose.
If it still feels easier to put up with the clutter than tackle it head on, consider these other benefits of doing hard work now to be kind to your future self:
- Taking the harder path requires greater self-discipline than choosing the easier option. By exercising this discipline regularly, you can strengthen your ability to stay focused and achieve your goals.
- Choosing the easy option may provide immediate relief, but it can also make you less resilient in the long run. When you take on challenging tasks and persevere through difficult times, you build resilience that can help you navigate future challenges more effectively.
- Gaining the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from overcoming obstacles. This sense of achievement can motivate you to tackle even harder tasks in the future.
- Choosing the easier option may provide temporary relief, but it often leads to regret and disappointment in the long run. By taking the harder path, you may experience temporary discomfort, but the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from accomplishing something challenging can be much greater.
- Developing more effective problem-solving skills. You may discover new solutions or approaches that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Overall, pausing and spending some time doing something you perceive as difficult may require more effort and patience, but it will make your life easier in the long run and can lead to greater personal growth, satisfaction, and resilience.
If you feel overwhelmed, a powerful tool to help you tackle decluttering in manageable chunks is Pomodoro Sprints, a time management technique that can help you be more productive. We use Pomodoro Sprints in our Get Sh*t Done and Work Sprint events at Tribe to help wellness professionals tackle their daily tasks in a more efficient manner.
Here’s how Pomodoro Sprints work:
- Choose a task to work on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes (this is called a “pomodoro”).
- Work on the task until the timer goes off.
- Take a short break (5-10 minutes).
- Repeat the cycle (work for 25 minutes, take a short break) four times.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
Here are some ways that pomodoro sprints can help you be more productive:
- Increased focus: The time limit helps you stay focused on the task at hand, rather than getting distracted by other things.
- Reduced procrastination: Breaking a task down into smaller, more manageable chunks can help you avoid procrastination.
- Increased efficiency: By focusing on a single task for a set amount of time, you can get more done in less time.
- Better time management: Pomodoro sprints help you prioritize your tasks and manage your time more effectively.
- Reduced burnout: Taking regular breaks can help prevent burnout and improve your overall well-being.
Overall, pomodoro sprints can be an effective way to boost your productivity by increasing focus, reducing procrastination, improving efficiency, enhancing time management, and reducing burnout. They can help you to declutter by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable projects.
Choose one of these areas to focus on to start:
Declutter Your Mind
Our minds can be cluttered with worry, anxiety, and distractions that make it hard to focus on our goals and values. To declutter your mind, try practices like meditation, journaling, or mindfulness exercises. These can help you clear your mind and focus on the present moment, which can in turn help you connect with your purpose.
If your mind is cluttered with thoughts of all the things that you need to get done, consider using the principles of the Getting Things Done (GTD) method to empty all those thoughts out of your head. GTD is a time management and productivity method developed by David Allen. The GTD method is designed to help individuals and teams increase their productivity by organizing and prioritizing their work.
At its core, GTD is about getting all of your tasks and ideas out of your head and into a reliable system. This helps to reduce mental clutter and free up mental space for creativity and strategic thinking. Reading David Allen’s book was life changing for me. One of the biggest lessons from implementing this method could well be that you are trying to do more than is humanly possible, or you are lying to yourself about what you want or need to get done.
The GTD system consists of five steps:
- Capture: Collect all the things that you need to do, including ideas, projects, and tasks, and get them out of your head and into a trusted system.
- Clarify: Process the items that you have captured to determine what they are, whether they are actionable, and what the next steps are.
- Organize: Group your items into categories such as projects, next actions, and waiting for.
- Reflect: Review your system regularly to ensure that everything is up to date and that you are working on the right things.
- Engage: Finally, use your system to make decisions about what to do and take action on the tasks and projects that are most important.
By following these steps, the GTD method helps individuals and teams to reduce stress and increase productivity. By having a clear understanding of what needs to be done, what the priorities are, and what the next steps are, people can focus on the work that is most important, and be more productive overall.
Overall, the GTD method is a powerful tool for anyone looking to increase their productivity and achieve more clarity of purpose in their work and personal lives.
Declutter Your Physical Space
Your physical environment can also have a big impact on your mental and emotional state. To declutter your physical space, start by getting rid of things you don’t need or use. This can include clothes you haven’t worn in years, old papers and documents, or knick-knacks that don’t bring you joy. By simplifying your physical space, you’ll create a more peaceful and calming environment that can help you feel more focused and energized.
For a deeper dive, consider using the KonMari method. Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and author who developed a popular method for decluttering and organizing your physical space, called the KonMari method. The KonMari method focuses on creating a tidy and clutter-free environment that is aligned with your values and brings joy to your life.
The KonMari method consists of several key principles, including:
- Tidying by category: Instead of tidying by room, the KonMari method recommends tidying by category, such as clothes, books, papers, and sentimental items. This helps you to see the full extent of your possessions and make better decisions about what to keep and what to discard.
- Keep only what sparks joy: The KonMari method suggests holding each item and asking yourself whether it sparks joy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and let it go.
- Respect your possessions: The KonMari method encourages you to treat your possessions with respect and gratitude, which can help you to build a deeper appreciation for the things you own.
- Organize by function: The KonMari method suggests organizing your possessions by function, rather than by location. This can help you to find things more easily and keep your space tidy over the long term.
By following these principles, the KonMari method can help you to declutter your physical space, reduce stress, and create a more joyful and intentional environment. The method has gained widespread popularity around the world, and many people have reported that it has had a positive impact on their lives beyond just their physical space. Many people confuse it with minimalism, but her method teaches you to appreciate your physical possessions, get clear on why you own them, and how they serve you.
Declutter Your Digital Life
In today’s world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by digital clutter. Between emails, social media, and other notifications, it can feel like you’re always connected to the digital world. To declutter your digital life, start by setting boundaries around your use of technology. For example, you might turn off notifications on your phone during certain times of day, or set aside designated times to check email or social media. You can also unsubscribe from newsletters or other digital subscriptions that you don’t find useful or interesting. You can apply David Allen and Marie Kondo’s principles for decluttering your mind and your physical space to your digital life too.
By decluttering your mind, physical space, and digital life, you can create more space for what really matters in your life. This can help you connect with your values and purpose, and achieve greater clarity and focus in your personal and professional goals. So take some time today to simplify your life and see how it can impact your sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Written by Ellen Letten. Brain Health educator and co-owner of Tribe. In addition to her own practice, Ellen supports other wellness professionals in private practice.