So you’ve embarked on a spring cleaning frenzy, 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!
May I now ask, 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 when you may only own three pairs of socks now? What gives?
Let’s pause, take a deep breath, and take a look at your schedule. Chances are that’s where the clutter lies, and not necessarily in your closet.
Start with a blank canvas
On a blank piece of paper, write down what you did in the past 24 hours. As 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 you want to minimize so you can feel more productive or calm; and which activities you need to stop because it drains you.
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. 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 and during my working hours, and the technology to remind me of meetings and appointments between 9am-5pm. Decide what works for you, make adjustments as needed, and most importantly: you do you.
Be intentional about cutting off distractionsWe’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. Instead of trawling social media, look for new hobbies to take up. And I know what you're going to say, "I don't have time." I absolutely believe you AND kindly request that you consider reading this article on how we feel it will benefit your productivity (yup, you read that correctly) by taking up a hobby.
Practice Saying Yes to YOUR Agenda
There’s a reason we can go to bed whenever we want now...even if that’s at 9:30pm after watching Friends on Netflix (YOLO): we’re adults. The person asking you to do something for them is likely also an adult and should understand if and when we say no. However, we tend to please other people so we make saying ‘no’ harder than it actually is. Then what happens? We end up with way more to do, overwhelmed and sometimes, resentful. If you’re having a hard time saying no, here’s a tip: take a deep breath, say that you may have something else on and you need to have a look at your schedule.
Make space for what brings you meaning, even if it means doing more
There, I said it. I firmly believe there’s nothing wrong in doing more as long as it aligns with your goal 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 and 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 better connected to the activity and change how you feel about your days for the better.