It’s time to hang up your winter coat! Starting today, we’ll be sharing 12 healthy “hacks” from our experts to help jumpstart new spring routines. Our first post is from bestselling author Jenny Blake, who has a host of in-depth tips for cleansing your clutter.
Jenny Blake is a bestselling author, career and business strategist and international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. You can find her at JennyBlake.me where she explores systems at the intersection of mind, body and business. For fun, Jenny teaches a Geek Yoga class in New York City for entrepreneurs. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” —Leonardo DaVinci
Vortex begone, spring has sprung! But the remnants of winter’s hoarding and hibernation may have accumulated beyond your waistline—in sneaky crevices around your house, closet, computer, and email inbox. As many will surely be jumping on the juicing bandwagon to get beach-ready (kale on kale, anyone?), now is a great time to clear any winter clutter that accumulated over the last few months.
By definition, clutter is, “A collection of things lying about in an untidy mass,” or, “Things lying in heaps or confusion,” originally derived from the word “litter.” And who wants litter clogging up their life?
(Mood) Death by 1,000 Cuts
Just as your Fitbit helps track your physical activity, this week’s challenge is to improve your mental fitness at the same time.
Reducing unnecessary stress from your mind, body, physical environment and schedule will free you up for more fun activities that benefit your overall mood, health and wellness. It will be a heck-of-a-lot easier to hit your daily 10,000 steps milestone if you don’t have to dig out from relentless clutter piles every day!
If you’re anything like me, by no means is your clutter so bad that you can’t see the floor — it’s more like little nagging piles that grow so subtly you hardly notice they’re there. That stack of papers on your desk, the unattended to pile of clothes to be properly put away, and that back corner of your refrigerator with food you’ll probably never touch.
Not everyone is ready for a full-on Spring Clean — instead, warm-up with this 7-day De-Clutter Cleanse. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it: remove or streamline one clutter source each day.
Follow this daily regimen as your guide, or for the bravest among you: rip the band-aid off and dedicate an entire day to overhauling your physical, digital and mental environments.
Monday: Digital Desktop & Documents
Is there an area of your computer that has dozens of unorganized files milling about? Spend 30 minutes deleting and moving files into their proper place. Exhale with glee as you right-click to empty your digital trash can afterward.
Tip: Use consistent names for your folders across all platforms: email labels, desktop folders, even paper folders. That way you’ll always know where to find things regardless of their format.
Tool: Back-up any files from your hard drive to Dropbox, or better yet, use that as your primary storage home in the first place. Better still? Create as many files as you can in the cloud for added accessibility and collaboration.
- Reward: Buy a book from the top of your Amazon wishlist for added brain fuel and inspiration
Tuesday: Tackle a Desk Pile
Got a stack of papers to put away, bills to pay, and other items which don’t belong on your desk? Although messy desks have been said to inspire creativity, wouldn’t it be easier to work if you didn’t have to stare at an accumulating pile of papers every time you sat down?
Template: Clear Your Clutter — If your desk is not a sore spot, this template will help you identify the area of your house that has most clutter and create a plan for removing it. Clear house, clear mind!
- Reward: Dedicate the afternoon to working on something that would make you happiest to complete. Perhaps it’s firing off five handwritten notes, creating a Pinterest vision board for something you’re hoping to do in your life (or an area of your home you want to re-configure), chipping away at creative writing, or even creating a photo book from the best pictures in your phone (another great way to clear phone clutter, I might add!).
Wednesday: Streamline Your Email Inbox
Raise your hand if your email inbox does not drive you crazy. No one? Try any one of the following tools to make email management more efficient:
Unroll.me works with gmail by showing you a list of all lists you are subscribed to and allows you to mass unsubscribe; it also sends a daily roll-up of all subscriptions that are easily scannable and editable. If stragglers come into your inbox, you can forward to email@example.com and it will add them in the future (as well as remove messages you want to keep separate).
SaneBox is a great tool that summarizes and filters non-important email, such as newsletters for reading quickly at a glance. Try their SaneBlackHole feature which blacklists certain accounts from your inbox.
Also check out NutshellMail, a service that sends a daily (or at a frequency you suggest) digest of all social media activity.
- Reward: Be a little mischievous by taking a two-day email staycation even if you aren’t actually going anywhere. Put up an auto-responder on a Thursday saying you will be slow to respond until Monday. Notice how good it feels to have a little more room to breathe and work on your bigger priorities.
Thursday: Task Transfer
Take a look at your to-do list today and ask: what do I *need* to do myself? What can I drop or delegate? Make a goal to drop or delegate at least three things today. Bonus: make this part of your routine every day for a week.
Tool: Consider a trial period of working with a Virtual Assistant. Zirtual offers U.S.-based assistants starting at as little as $200 a month; here’s how I work with mine. You may not find it worth the investment, but making this change improved my life and work so dramatically that I will cut out most other expenses before I have to do without this one.
If you’re still not sure what the fuss is about, check out this The New York Times article on how “normal” people (i.e. not just Tim Ferris types) are Outsourcing [Their] Way to Success
- Reward: Spend one of your new free hours outside — better yet, combine your exercise with a social outing. I love doing “walk and talk” meet-ups with friends where we walk along the Hudson River while catching up. Easier on the wallet and waistline than going out to dinner!
Stay tuned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday in part two of the 7-Day De-Clutter Cleanse coming this Friday!