What Does It Mean to Spring Clean Your Life?
Maybe you’ve embarked on a spring cleaning frenzy before. You’ve cleaned out your closet, donated half your possessions, organized your towels by colour, folded your shirts into Marie-Kondo prescribed squares (or is it triangles?), only to find that a few days later, you have a nagging feeling that things still aren’t quite right.
Or worse, you attempt to do said spring cleaning then you find that because you don’t have enough time to finish, you’re even more overwhelmed than when you started! Do you know that feeling? I do!
Spring cleaning your home and possessions can be an incredibly satisfying task (if achieved). But spring cleaning your life—and schedule—is about ‘cleaning out’ what’s no longer useful, helpful, or life-giving in our daily, monthly, or seasonal routines.
Why It’s Important to Spring Clean Your Life
When we pause and take stock of how things are or aren’t working in our lives, we have the opportunity to ‘tidy up’ in a way that can bring deeper purpose and meaning into our lives.
Have you been volunteering for an organization that you no longer have personal ties or connections to? Or that no longer brings you joy? Or perhaps you moved to a new neighborhood but you’re still driving to your usual dry cleaners out of habit? Perhaps that weekly meeting could be just as effective as a bi-monthly meeting?
Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the ways our time, energy, and resources may be keeping us from a more spacious schedule, with room to breathe and be.
But with a little care and attention, we can make small but powerfully positive changes to our lives. You can create the time, space and energy you need to maintain that fresh ‘spring clean’ feeling all year, or season, long.
That’s what the steps below are here to help you do.
Step 1 to Spring Clean Your Life:
TAKE STOCK OF YOUR SCHEDULE
So how’s your schedule these days? Still saying ‘yes’ to things when you really just want to stay home and watch Netflix? Still dashing from one appointment to another, tackling your to-do list but still feeling overwhelmed? Your sock drawer may be nice and tidy but how come you can’t seem to find time to think your own thoughts? What gives?
Let’s pause, take a deep breath, and look at your schedule. Chances are that’s where the clutter lies, and not necessarily in your closet.
On a blank piece of paper, write down what you did in the past 24 hours.
Ask yourself: Was it productive? Was it necessary? Was it enjoyable?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, decide which of these activities most align with the values that you wish to maximize to bring you more joy. Which activities do you want to minimize so you can feel more productive or calm? And which activities do you need to stop because it drains you?
Create a START, STOP, DELEGATE list!
On your START list, think about what you could add to your day that would bring you a greater sense of peace, space, and wellness. 10 minutes of meditation in the morning? A 20 minute walk outdoors at lunchtime? A weekend coffee date with a friend at your favorite cafe? That creative writing class you’ve been wanting to take? Think about what brings you energy and life, and see how you might be able to add small doses here or there.
On your STOP list, add things that are no longer serving you, not aligned with your values, or are no longer necessary. Maybe you’re the friend who always organizes the get-togethers? Experiment with what happens if you step out of that role, and let someone else do the organizing for a while. Or maybe you feel obligated to be digitally connected at all times, for work or personal messages. Being constantly connected will eventually burn you out. Set some boundaries, and silence your phone.
On the other hand, you don’t have to give up everything that is filling your time. On your DELEGATE list, brainstorm what you can outsource or ways to be more efficient with your to-dos. So you said yes to providing dessert at next week’s book club, but it doesn’t have to be homemade! Pick something up at your favorite bakery. Housecleaning, doing your taxes, grocery shopping, dog walking, tutoring, social media—and so much more—can all be outsourced. If it’s more of a headache than a ‘cup-filler’, consider who or what might be able to take it off your plate.
Step 2 to Spring Clean Your Life:
DECIDE ON A PRODUCTIVITY METHOD THAT WORKS FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE
Once you know what you would like your ideal day or week to look like, choose a planning method that supports this. This is entirely your call. Everyone has a productivity method that best suits their personality, and when you discover yours, you can spring clean your life on a much deeper level.
This is how I plan my week in this season of my life, but it was different a few months ago. I’m a self-professed hybrid planner in that I need to start with a paper-based system to have a clear picture of my week. During my working hours, I need technology to remind me of meetings and appointments between 9am-5pm.
Most people can be placed into one of 3 types, and each type has their own approach to getting things done. Do you move around a lot or prefer sitting in one spot for hours? Are you the kind of person who likes to have a plan of action or do you tend to work best when working off the cuff? And what about organizing things… are you an alphabetizing freak or are piles better for you?
Take our Productivity Quiz and discover YOUR Productivity Personality and how you can leverage your strengths, implement sustainable habits, and create lasting change.
Decide what works for you, make adjustments as needed, and most importantly: you do you.
Step 3 to Spring Clean Your Life:
BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT CUTTING OFF DISTRACTIONS
We’re constantly bombarded by notifications on our phones, laptops, and tablets. Our increasing reliance on smartphones and devices also means that we have an endless supply of entertainment at our fingertips, which can all too easily distract us from all the things we need to be getting on with.
Not to mention that the constant interruption of notifications (visual or oratory) is derailing our ability to focus deeply for long periods of time. If we continue to allow spontaneous interruptions throughout our days, we will eventually be incapable of staying focused on tasks that need our full attention—such as spending time with your kids, writing your book, conducting in-depth research, or solving a deeply complicated problem.
Needless to say, the stakes are high!
Take Up a Hobby
Instead of trawling social media, look for new hobbies to take up. I know you're probably thinking, "Who has time for that??" I absolutely understand the sentiment, AND I kindly request that you consider reading this article on how it actually benefits your productivity (yup, you read that correctly).
It turns out the brain is more productive under less stress and pressure. Who knew! When we feel pressed, the neural pathways in our brain (the channels we need for thinking!) physically constrict, making it more difficult to think clearly and take action.
Hobbies bring us back to a relaxed state. They help us come back to ourselves and our natural flow of relaxed thoughts. Activities that remove the constraints of deadlines and outcomes feed and replenish us, even though, from the outside, they can seem like one more thing to do.
Hobbies can be meditative, like practicing the art of calligraphy or knitting or sewing. They can be rejuvenating, like hiking or dance class or Tai Chi.
I encourage you to make space for just one hobby in your life. And if the word “hobby” feels like too much of a commitment, just call it ‘me time’. Let’s make space for more of you, shall we?
Step 4 to Spring Clean Your Life:
PRACTICE SAYING YES TO YOUR AGENDA
Many of us struggle to say 'no' and it’s understandable. We tend to want to please other people and feel that we will be hurting them, or their feelings, by saying no.
But what happens if we keep saying yes to things? We end up with far too much on our plates, overwhelmed and stressed, and sometimes, resentful. Not good.
There’s a reason you can go to bed whenever you want... even if that’s at 9:30pm after watching Friends on Netflix (YOLO): we’re adults. And as an adult, you get to decide what you can and cannot do. Chances are, the person asking something of you will most likely understand if you don’t have the capacity right now. (In fact, they’ll probably envy your ability to say ‘no’!)
It’s ok to decline. It’s ok to say ‘maybe next time’. And it’s more than acceptable to say ‘not right now’ in order to guard your time, energy, heart, and mind.
If you’re having a hard time saying no, here’s a tip: before you give an answer, take a deep breath, say that you may have something else on your calendar, and you need to have a look at your schedule. This will help you to pause and not make pressured decisions in the moment. Once you’ve stepped away, you can make a clear decision that best suits your needs.
Step 5 to Spring Clean Your Life:
MAKE SPACE FOR WHAT BRINGS YOU MEANING, EVEN IF IT MEANS DOING MORE
There, I said it. I firmly believe there’s nothing wrong with doing more as long as it aligns with your goals, values, or your purpose. Just make sure you’re not spread too thin, so you can continue to do it well.
Spending time at the park with my kids brings me joy, connection, and peace. This activity speaks to my commitment to and contentment with family and nature. I also find that being outdoors with my children recharges me in really positive ways. So, I make space in my diary to spend time with my kids and be close to nature where I can.
This could mean going to the park (if I have more time), going to our backyard to plant flowers (if I have less time), watering the plants together in our house (even less time), or reading a book together about nature (super quick).
Making time for what means most, even if just for a few minutes, can really help you feel more connected to the activity and change how you feel about your days for the better.
Refer back to your “START” list from Step 1 above, to revisit what you might add to your days that bring you a greater sense of meaning and joy.
It might feel counter-intuitive, but you might be surprised by the impact of it.
Here are some tips for how to make space in your schedule for you and the things you love to do.
It’s always important for us to take time throughout the year to reflect on how we want to spend our time and be intentional with planning our schedules accordingly. Spending those moments to really think about the way in which you spend your time will help you prioritise the important stuff. When you spring clean your life, it leaves you feeling more purposeful and content about how and where you spend your time.
Do you need a little help spring cleaning your schedule? Ponderlily Team to the rescue!