In this, the last part of our productivity series before launching Simplify, I am hoping to offer some practical tips and last minute advice to finish our preparation for beginning a brand new year adopting a new, simple, organized lifestyle that might be foreign to most. But before forging ahead, let's review a few of the things we've learned in this blog series so far:
• This will be a new lifestyle change — a marathon, not a sprint.
Tips on organizing and decluttering won't keep the clutter away, this is a whole new mindset. All the tips and strategies in the world are completely useless unless you start adopting this new lifestyle. Remember to give yourself grace and start slow. One space at a time, one drawer at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day. 😊
• "Clutter is postponed decisions." (Barbara Hemphill)
Love this quote. The reason we have clutter in our homes is because we don't take the time to put things away where they belong. The decision to put away, throw away, and give away must take place when the item is in our hand. When we procrastinate, we make the decision to handle things more than once, which then, steals our time. Remember the acronym "OHIO" that professional organizers teach? "Only Handle It Once!"
• Direction is more important than speed.
If you're heading in the direction of a stress-free, simplified lifestyle, then speed doesn't matter. Don't force yourself to declutter your whole house in a day, because it won't happen and you'll get burned out. As long as you're making progress—any progress—then you're doing it right.
• Identifying, eliminating, & replacing the distractions in your life with good habits that will propel you to your goal is crucial.
Two blog posts were devoted to calling out some obvious "time grabbers" in your life which steal time and energy away from you, resulting in less productivity. The time grabbers we discussed included procrastination and clutter, technology, emotional issues, multi-tasking, not having a plan, the inability to say "no," and perfectionism. There are many more time-grabbers that reduce productivity, and these will differ from person to person, but the important lesson here is to learn how to identify what is stealing your time, and then replace it with a better habit. Doesn't sound familiar? Read both posts here: time grabbers part 1, and time grabbers part 2.
• Goal setting: there is no better motivator than to fully embrace where you're headed.
If you don't know where you're going, it will be more difficult to arrive in a timely manner. Makes total sense. If your goal is to declutter your kitchen in January, then writing out the steps into smaller, more manageable goals is key. If your goals are too general or massive, you'll be less likely to achieve them. Bite size is best. Wanna re-visit this post? Click here.
We begin this last post in the series by addressing some basic self care tips that are good to implement in order to procure success in the long run. Just like I mentioned in a previous post, there is a reason why you are supposed to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others in an emergency on a plane. If you're not attending to your own health and wellbeing, you will be no good in other areas, and no benefit to others, as well. Please note, though, that there is much baggage associated with the term self care. I just don't want to give anybody the idea that I am promoting the worldly, anti-biblical notion of totally putting yourself first. The Bible calls for us to be other-centered, focussed on the needs of others, having a servant's heart. This is what I'm all about. But I do believe, along with this, that we shouldn't neglect common sense in the area of taking care of ourselves. This is so important!
What this looks like will be different for everyone, but there will be some commonality. Getting good rest at night should be at the top of your list, and it's probably the most obvious self-care tip. Eating a healthy diet, including drinking your daily dose of water is also important so that each organ gets the proper amount of nutrition in order to function properly. And, of course, getting good exercise always helps with increasing your energy, improving your mood, fighting disease, and aiding in better sleep at night. All of this will increase your cognitive ability, helping to eliminate those foggy brain moments we all experience. This is nothing new for you, I'm sure, but we all need to be reminded to take good care of ourselves so that we can have the energy we need to accomplish the tasks on our plate.
Calendars & To Do Lists
A good way to help prepare yourself to Simplify is to get acquainted with your calendar. Whether you use a digital calendar or a paper one, it's a good habit to add your tasks to your daily calendar so you can see what your day looks like. Schedule your exercise routine, your errands, your chores. And yes, schedule that chunk of time to declutter a drawer or a closet. (Next post will give the specifics of our Simplify method).
Using a calendar boosts productivity and helps keep us accountable to our schedule. Calendars are most often used to add appointments for doctors, dentists, and meetings, but why not add in your prioritized to-do list so everything is in one spot? Here is where your calendar and to-do list become good friends.
Your nightly routine should include blocking out a small chunk of time to glance at your calendar and your to do list for the following day. Prioritizing what needs to be done, and then adding those items on your calendar will not only save you time, but it will boost your productivity. This doesn't have to take a long time, just a few minutes each night to make sure you are staying on top of everything.
And remember, when you're prioritizing your tasks and putting them on your calendar, make sure you schedule the hardest ones first. Most of us have more energy and focus in the morning, and so, this will ensure that you finish these harder tasks in a shorter amount of time. And you can't deny that it feels amazing to cross off those enormous chores while viewing the little easy ones that are left to do, right?
This third & final category will contain all the last random tips I have for you before we start to Simplify. In just a few days we will be starting a whole new year where we can truly start over with many things! I'm sure lots of you have numerous ideas of things you want to accomplish in the new year. Why not add Simplify to the list and get "clutter free in 2020?" Here are a few more things you'll need to ponder:
Don't set yourself up to fail by demanding perfection. Perfection is usually subjective and completely unattainable. Being your own toughest critic should motivate you to do better, not kill your productivity. Just do your best, and be satisfied with the results.
When you declutter your home, all the containers you have suddenly become empty. Tadaaaaaa! No need for a visit to the Container Store! You will have scads of leftover baskets and bins for which to put only the essentials you want to keep. Money saved. Remember that less is more!
If you want it done, make it fun! Offer yourself rewards along the way to keep the motivation high. Throw on the music while you purge yourself of the things you no longer need and find homes for the things you love.
Decluttering is not about getting rid of stuff. It's about keeping the stuff you love — the stuff that adds value to your life. Picture the end game. What do you want your desk to look like when you're done? Only keep what you absolutely need.
Rid yourself of the duplicates. Saving that extra coffee maker in case yours expires takes up room, and by the time you would need it, better and cheaper coffee makers will be available. Why don't you bless somebody with your duplicates and put them to use?
Never, ever declutter someone else's stuff. You shouldn't decide what is most valuable to them. Declutter your own things and be the example. Hopefully they will follow along.