Busy to Balanced Approach Part 5
“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to
be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.
What does it mean to be uncluttered?
If you live in a display home, with clean surfaces and minimal decoration, are you living an uncluttered life? What if you found you had a spare day this week, when you’re normally booked solid? How about your crazy monkey mind, which today has decided not to run on high alert and instead gives you the feeling of being grounded? These things might mean you’re living an uncluttered life, but in our new definition of busy, being uncluttered means so much more than that.
Busy women lead cluttered and, by default, unbalanced lives. It’s a fact – one that we need to get used to. So how do we stay on this roundabout of life without feeling completely off track? How do we learn to live our life with less clutter and more balance and meaning?
The key really is to know what it is you want from your life. This isn’t the ‘stuff’ you want – like a lovely home, a job you can’t wait to get to each day, a partner who loves you, or outfits that look amazing on you. This is the feeling you want each and every day from your home and your life.
Think about the ideal home you’d love to live in. It might be a five bedroom three bathroom home with a pool and tennis court on a beautiful block of land surrounded by rainforest. It may be a unit in the city, close to transport, the theatre and running tracks. It might be a small shack in walking distance to the beach, good coffee shops, and your work. It might be a home in the hills, close to nature, with a view of rolling hills, and the ocean in the distance.
Once you’ve pictured your ideal home in your mind ask yourself:
- Why do you want this home?
- What is it about this home that excites you?
- Will this home give you something you don’t currently have?
- What does this home have that your current home doesn’t?
- What feeling do you think this kind of home would give you?
Now think of the home you live in today. Is it possible to have this feeling in your current home? What if you could transfer that feeling, what it is you want from your home, and make it happen right now, in the home you live in?
You see, you can. You can say, “I want more connection with my family” or “I want to turn my home into a sanctuary” or “I want a party home where family and friends bring their energy and we can have lots of fun” or “I want a space away from the world to connect with me”. Once you’ve brought the feeling you want into your home, you will start to live an uncluttered life. Because you will keep coming back to it, asking yourself if you’re experiencing the feeling you want, and if you’re not, you can use your awareness of it to help you get back on track.
It sounds a lot easier than it is but I promise, if you focus on this feeling – the what you want from your home feeling – and actively work toward bringing it into your life, you can start to remove all sorts of clutter that’s weighing you down. It’s a choice you make and one that can happen, if you allow it.
Take some time to ask yourself:
- Where does the clutter live in your life? Is it at work, in your relationships, in the activities you do each day?
- What can you do to remove some of this clutter and create more balance?
- Where can you say ‘no’ so you can say ‘yes’ to something that connects you with you?
Let’s move on now to look in greater detail at the two traits that sit underneath the concept of U = Uncluttered. The first is Organised; the second is On Time.
“Don’t agonise, organise”.
It’s important to know that being organised does not mean living in a display home. Far from it! The amount of times I’ve been asked, “Is your home super organised Helen?” is quite phenomenal – I am sure people think all I do all day long is declutter and organise my own home!
Yes, I have systems in place in our home that work for our family, but as I look around my open plan living/dining room and kitchen right now I can see dishes in the sink that need washing, a dining table with books and letters on it that need actioning, a coffee table with bits and bobs that ultimately live somewhere else. This stuff won’t stay there for long – at some stage today we’ll do a blitz and put it all back where it belongs – but for now, that’s how it looks. And I’m OK with that.
I live in my home and so should you. But what your home looks and feels like should support the vision you have for your life, and if it doesn’t, you need to work toward changing it so it does.
So, where do you start?
If you decide to tackle your organising challenges on your own you will need to focus on two different areas.
The first area is your physical space – the kitchen, office, wardrobe, kids room, whatever area is impacting on you and your daily life.
The second area is your time – that schedule clutter that is causing you so much grief, overwhelm and exhaustion.
The great follow-on effect of organising these two areas is that you’re also likely to be, and feel, more organised in your mind, freeing up space to make change and move toward that ideal vision you have for your life.
On a practical level you can start your organising journey:
- At your front door. This is where we welcome people and new opportunities into our home and life.
- In the centre of your home. By starting here you are shifting the energy out from the centre of your home, creating a ripple effect into other areas, which will hopefully encourage and support you to keep going.
- Somewhere small. This could be the junk drawer, your handbag, a shelf in the linen closet, or somewhere small that is frustrating you. This is the place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or like it’s all just too much.
- In the space that’s causing you the most grief. This isn’t for the faint-hearted, as it could take you quite a while to properly organise and declutter this space. You need energy for this one!
- Anywhere! By starting anywhere in your home or workplace you are creating momentum that will hopefully encourage you to keep going.
Take some time to ask yourself:
- Where are you going to start your organising journey?
- Do you need help to move forward with your challenges?
- How would getting organised help you bring more balance into your life?
“I’d rather be thirty minutes early than ten minutes late”.
With the increase in work pressures over the past few decades there has been an increase in time management strategies and processes to help you and me get more done in our day. If you’ve done any formal study, you’ll have been force-fed time management principles, some that worked for you, most that didn’t, by an academic who is an ‘expert on time management’.
Personally, I think these experts are just like you and me – normal people trying to get through the day and get done what they need to. But one thing that sets them apart is that they have strategies to get through busy periods, and work like crazy to get things done in less busy periods.
So how does all of this relate to getting organised and living a more balanced life?
Well, what if I could promise you that being organised will save you time and, most importantly, help you be on time (if this is something you know you struggle with)? Ask any organised person and they will tell you that saving time is one of the greatest benefits of being organised.
How is this possible?
Think about it.
You’re leaving for work. Where are your car keys? And the kids school bags? And the notes that need returning to the teacher? Having simple systems to manage these things will get you out the door on time.
You’re going on holiday. Where is all the camping/skiing/travel gear you need to pack in the car or your suitcase? If you have a home for these things you’ll be able to pack much more quickly, have less arguments doing it and leave home knowing you have what you need for a good holiday.
You’re doing some building/renovations around your home. Where’s all the paperwork related to the tradesmen? What about their invoices and a system to pay them on time? Having a project folder will save you valuable time searching for what you need and help you pay all those bills on time.
Take some time to ask yourself:
- Is being on time a challenge for you?
- What do you need to do on a practical basis to help you improve in this area?
- Would being on time help you feel more balanced, in control and less stressed?
In my next article in this series I’ll be sharing the next part of the BUSY to Balanced approach – B = Balanced – and the two traits that sit underneath it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this approach so far. Please share them in the comments below.
To read Helen’s previous articles click on the links below