Before I discovered the power of decluttering and learned how to really organize a space, I basically lived my life in two modes.
One mode was panic mode: I would get out of bed at the very last minute, and do the bare minimum to get out of the house as quickly as possible. I relied on reminders from others to get anything done - each reminder driving up my stress-levels. And as far as food was concerned, I'd eat whatever happened to be most convenient, or skip meals.
When I was done panicking for the day, I would sink into my second mode: exhaustion. I would curl up on the couch and binge TV, play on my phone, or surf aimlessly on my laptop. Not that there's anything wrong with those activities - but they were about all I could muster in my spare time. I was completely burnt out.
So many of us are living our lives in this "burnt out" condition where we spend our days oscillating between panic and exhaustion. When I finally took control of my space, I found out that so much of the chaos I was experiencing in my daily life was preventable.
Here are just a few of the ways decluttering and organizing my space has made an impact in my life.
My mornings were so hectic and last minute because I wasn’t getting anywhere near enough sleep. The reason why I wasn’t getting enough sleep was because I was so endlessly glued to my screen at night (or any time I had some free time). I knew that I had to get to bed earlier to get enough sleep - but once I was hooked into my screen of choice for the night, I would stay there until I could drag myself to bed.
Why was I so hooked to my screen? One reason was that the state of my space was so overwhelming that I would look for an escape to numb myself out to that reality because I was too tired at that point to do anything about it. And because my space overwhelmed me, it was all too easy to stay wrapped up in whatever was happening on the screen.
Now, I still watch TV some nights. And I surf my phone and laptop at times, absolutely. But it’s no longer because I needed to escape my life, and the state of my space. Because I no longer need that escape, I use my screens much more intentionally, and it’s a lot easier to pull away from them when it’s time to get ready for bed.
Now that my space supports my habit of getting to bed on time and getting plenty of space, I have time in the morning to start my day off right. I get to go to the gym, or stay at home for a little yoga. I find 5-10 minutes to meditate. I eat a healthy breakfast, and have time to clean up. I do my jade egg exercises, and put on a little bit of makeup. It’s one of my favorite parts of my day!
When I first graduated from college and started living completely on my own as an adult, I was utterly gobsmacked by the paperwork involved. I quite clearly remember one conversation with my friend where I lamented “all these peripheral things” that were just totally killing my vibe.
I pretty much buried my head in the sand, piling up the opened mail on my desk without really looking at it, until warned of dire consequences. So many things would fall through the cracks. I started losing trust in myself.
I felt overwhelmed by this paperwork because I had no system for dealing with it. Because each piece of paper had a task involved, it would add up very quickly. I could no longer discern what was important for me to do. I had this massive blindspot where I felt helpless, and this created a baseline of anxiety that I lived with for years.
It never occurred to me that this kind of “adulting” would require a system, but now that I have one, I would never go back. I no longer have to try to keep all of these tiny tasks in my head. I know exactly what I can recycle and what’s important, so the paper never builds up. And I manage it all, on average, in less than five minutes a day.
I relied on processed food and take out for much of my adult life. Most evenings, coming up with a plan for dinner felt like too much. Then I would try meal planning for the week, and even that would be too much to manage every weekend.
Most weeks would start off with the best of intentions. I’d fill my fridge with fresh ingredients, and then I’d only have the wherewithal to stick with the plan for a night or two before everything fell apart and the remaining fresh ingredients would end up in the trash.
There were a few reasons why things went so south, so fast. Most weekends, I had other stuff I wanted to do beyond planning meals. Even on weeks when I did have a plan, I would often be too tired to cook, because I wasn’t getting enough sleep, starting my day off right, or managing the other areas of my life effectively.
Plus, it was annoying to find things in my kitchen. Shifting things around, digging in the cabinets to find the right cookware or appliance, things falling out everywhere. It was a pain. Not to mention the dishes…
Now that my kitchen is easy to work in, and I’ve worked out a big picture system for buying groceries and preparing meals, I have been able to cultivate a graceful rhythm in this area of my life. I can trust myself to buy and prepare fresh ingredients now, leading to higher nutrition overall. And, we only buy take out when we want to buy take out - not because we have to! This saves us a lot of money as well. Not to mention the stress of daily and weekly guesswork!
Clearing out the unnecessary drama from my day that was caused by disorganization…
I was freed up to make the bigger moves I had been wanting to make in my life. I was freed up to do the deeper healing that needed to happen to find happiness and fulfillment.
And as I did that work, my tidy space supported me by bringing gratitude, beauty, and positivity into focus in my daily life, which is a healing force on its own.
No, decluttering won't fix your life, but it's a start. Just make sure that you are also getting the support you need from qualified professionals. If you're concerned about your marriage, see a marriage counselor. If you think you might be struggling with your mental health, check in with a therapist. You get the picture.