Somedays, it seems I spend most of my time deleting emails, ignoring phone calls, and fielding random salesy, sleazy text messages. At the end of days like that, I wondered how after years of simplifying my life, I feel so overwhelmed. While I have done a pretty good job of stopping the inflow of clutter, stuff and busy work, clearly there is more work to be done.
Based on the survey results of our recent Annual Community Survey, I see that you know there is still work to be done too. We have to keep coming back to the basics, whether we are just getting started or years into simplifying our lives. Thanks to your feedback, I’m keeping simplicity basics in mind in my home and for future articles. We have to keep coming back!
Today’s simplicity basics article isn’t about decluttering but instead, having less to declutter.
Simplicity Basics: slow the inflow of noise and stuff
Even before you let go of one more thing, make a commitment to slow the inflow. Just like decluttering, I recommend that you take it slowly and focus on one area at a time. Take a look at the suggestions below and pick one. Slow the inflow today and give your decluttering efforts a chance to make a difference. If things are coming in faster than they are going out, you may be working harder than you have to.
From free stuff at work or conferences, to online ordering, to “just picking up a few things,” address the inflow of stuff (that turns into clutter). Think back over the last few days about what you brought into your home. Be vigilant about what comes in. Slow the inflow:
- Recycle mail before you bring it through the door or set it on a table.
- Empty purses, backpacks, and other bags and boxes when it comes in and discard the junk before it finds a permanent home in a junk drawer or another space.
- Put a ban on unnecessary shopping until you better understand why you buy what you buy and until you make some headway with your decluttering efforts.
- Enjoy the space and lightness you are creating and use that enjoyment as motivation to continue.
Phone (calls and text messages)
On a positive note, our phones keep us in touch with loved ones and let us capture beautiful moments with their cameras. They can also be a major distraction, preventing us from doing creative work, taking time to read a book, really connect with our loved ones, and on and on.
- Block phone numbers. Every time a call comes in with a message from someone you don’t know, who wants to sell you something you don’t want, or shares something that has nothing to do with you, don’t just delete because they will keep calling. Instead, block the number. Same goes for text messages. Don’t respond, or worry, or get annoyed … block.
- Silence your phone. When you need time to focus on a project, conversation, or another activity, silence your phone, put it in airplane mode, or turn it off. Don’t trust yourself to ignore the ring, beep, or buzz. Even if you do ignore, you’ll still be distracted.
- Create phone-free zones. Put cars, dinner tables, bathrooms and movie theatres at the top of the list please.
Not every email needs your attention, and no email needs your immediate attention. Slow the inflow:
- Limit the amount of times you check email each day. If you check email on your phone but don’t respond until you are in front of your computer or tablet, remove email from your phone.
- Create 2 email accounts, 1 for regular email and another for email you can’t avoid but don’t care about. Visit the second account once a week or once a month and select all, delete.
- Unsubscribe to stuff that you don’t read, don’t enjoy, and that doesn’t add value to your life.
- If you haven’t read anything in your “read later” folder lately, delete it and stop saving things for later. Later usually means never.
- Send fewer emails and use fewer words when you respond. As Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” It’s also the only hope we have of navigating our inboxes with a shred of sanity.
What do you bring into your home that you can’t see? Do you carry the work day into the kitchen, your worries about an earlier conversation into a current one, or fears into your dreams when you lay down to sleep? We all do that a little bit, and sometimes a lot. Slow the inflow:
- Create a buffer zone. Instead of rushing from work life to home life, make a little space or ritual in between. Walk around the block, take a shower, or sit quietly with a cup of tea to signify that you are leaving the workday, or something you struggled with behind for a while as you get ready to connect with family or to engage in another part of your day.
- Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes day. Try a guided meditation from Headspace. This won’t stop your thoughts, or even slow them down but it will help you to let go of them with more ease.
- Write down your heart. Every morning or evening, let your heart spill onto a page. You don’t have to share or re-read. Simply, set your worries free.
These recommendations will take some time to implement, so if things get too noisy before you have a chance to slow the inflow, walk away. Take a walk and a few deep breaths. Create lightness within you and you’ll strengthen your resolve to create lightness around you.