At the beginning of the new season, we often feel a renewed sense of aliveness—and an urge to clear out the old to make way for the new. Much of that “spring cleaning” urge stems from a need to simplify our lives from the “stuff” that has accumulated over time. Or, perhaps some routines, responsibilities, or practices in your life have gone a bit stale but you haven’t figured out how to restructure them.
If you find yourself in this dilemma, you’re definitely not alone. There are many things you can do to feel lighter and more organized. A caveat though—like most things worth pursuing, this process will not resolve itself overnight. No quick fixes here. But given time and consistent action, eventually you will get rid of the things you no longer need. Then you can actually participate fully in your life rather than run yourself ragged from addressing what no longer serves you.
So what are some strategies you can start on today?
1. Jot down your priorities and goals, no matter what they are.
If this exercise feels too daunting, you can divide this task into different domains of your life:
Physical goals (e.g. clearing out your living space, setting goals to improve your health)
Mental/emotional goals (e.g., monitoring how you talk to yourself, paying attention to the thought patterns that keep you stuck in obligations you no longer care about)
Priorities in your life over the next year (e.g., taking 10 minutes each day to clear out the clutter from your office desk, being more mindful of how you spend your free time).
Remember, change is a gradual phenomenon—start small, praise yourself for even small victories and remember that those tiny changes add up over time.
2. Take stock of how you spend your average weekday and weekend day.
Be honest with yourself and write down a typical routine on both of those days. Then evaluate your list as objectively as possible.
Are there any activities that just don’t seem worthwhile to you anymore?
Are there any activities that are motivated by unhealthy attitudes, fears or obligations that you simply don’t want in your life anymore?
See if you can adjust your routines accordingly. If those Wednesday nights spent binge-watching Netflix still seem necessary to maintain your sanity for the rest of the week, keep it in. If you find yourself pining for more time to go to the gym or spend with your friends, consider whether you could reallocate that Wednesday TV time toward something that will be more personally satisfying to you.
3. Clean & Organize.
Divide your living space into smaller, manageable areas to clean and organize—and clean them in order from most urgent to least urgent. Set one evening to clean out a particular area. Or, if it’s a more involved project, dedicate a weekend to getting it done. It may not seem worthwhile to sacrifice your precious free time just to declutter, but consider how much better you will feel once you let go of old stuff. It may be worth postponing a few friend dates to lighten your load.
That’s right, purge. In your closet, for instance, if you know you haven’t worn it in a year (be honest!), it needs to go. The more you get rid of the things that are not serving you (whether they be possessions, attitudes, beliefs, or even relationships), the more space you create in your life for the things that do serve your highest good.
Repeat these steps as needed. It may seem overwhelming when you see how many things you want to change, but remember that simply writing it down brings you closer to making it a reality. It’s worth that initial panic—and if you end up only completing a fraction of the tasks and goals you listed, you’ve already made huge strides in clearing away the old and stale parts of your life, which then allows newer, fresher energy to invigorate you.
Here’s to a healthier, happier, simpler lifestyle to kick off the spring season!
Author: Anjana Madan Morris
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: renee Jahnke