Are you nurtured or drained by your surroundings? What can you change?
If you’ve known me more than five minutes, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of decluttering, of everything having a rightful place and of letting go of anything that does not serve you. I believe in physical (and mental) spaces that nurture, not drain.
I know now that I’ve always believed it, although it wasn’t until I read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying in 2016 that I realised why I’d felt so uncomfortably heavy for so many years. And for me it was life changing. I booked my coaching training as a direct result, and I often share with clients the impact of clutter and space on mental health; it’s an easy area to overlook and simple to fix.
Disclaimer: Whilst I think the book is worth a read, I don’t agree with everything Marie Kondo shares; it’s a black and white approach and I think there’s a gentler way.
So, where are you right now?
It’s likely you’re at home, somewhere you may not usually work, possibly with people around you who are also usually elsewhere during the day? Or maybe you often work at home, in a space that’s not designed for you to do your best work? (I’m focusing on our workspaces in this letter; most of us spend a lot of time here and it just makes so much sense that where we work supports us, physically and mentally. But everything I talk about can be applied to your whole house, or office building, too.)
Maybe you work in a ‘proper’ office and your space there could support you better?
Where we are gives us cues as to what we’re about to do and the way it feels can impact how we feel about what we do there too, and I love the idea that we can play around with spaces to give us what we need…
Here are my very best tips for creating the right space around you…
A space that’s exactly what you need it to be; calm or energising, inspiring, comfortable and functional. (You can do this for free, it’s not about spending loads of time or money, it’s about working with what you have already!)
- Pick a space you’d like to work on.
- Maybe this is your temporary home office, or a work space on the dining table, or even creating room to bake more often in the kitchen… choose a small area for now; you can repeat this across the whole house if it works for you!
- Get clear on what you want from this space – what will you do here and how should it feel as you arrive?
- A mini vision board can be helpful to keep you on track – pick out a few images or colours from magazines or Pinterest to nudge you in the right direction.
- Move everything out of the space!
- Yes everything, this bit is important! Books, papers, kitchen paraphernalia, pictures; everything. You might even paint or wallpaper at this point, depending on energy, time and resources.
- Once everything is out of the way, consider where the big stuff needs to be.
- This change around may be temporary but that doesn’t mean it can’t feel good! Most furniture is moveable, so it’s a good time to ask, is it in the right place, for me, at this time?
- Occasionally I find a good swap of furniture from one room to another, if I let go of the thought “but it’s always been here!”
- Keeping your ‘vision’ in mind, decide on your criteria for what items will return here? Will they be functional, beautiful, inspiring?
- Marie Kondo insists that everything you keep should ‘spark joy’ and, having applied it to a whole house, I can tell you that I do love this as a criteria! At the same time I recognise that (especially now) we don’t all have the time, freedom or funds to replace necessary items that don’t spark joy… especially if you’re creating a temporary space, though you may decide to create a replace-list for the future.
- Only bring back items that, individually, meet your criteria!
- Maybe you’ll bring something from another part of the house to bring it closer to your vision.
- I found that some things that I loved were just in the wrong place…
- Possibly you’ll notice that you’ve out-grown stuff that’s just been there for years without you really seeing it; I found this happened to me, a lot.
- Set aside anything that doesn’t make the grade (for recycling, charity donations, eBay etc once these things are possible again)
- Notice how your space feels now when you arrive?
Maybe you have your space the way you want it already? Nice work! You may still like this, from a dear friend of mine… she suggests creating rituals to signal a change in activity, especially when you can’t use a change of space to do this.
With no choice other than to work in the kitchen of her small apartment she does two simple things to separate ‘work’ from ‘home’…
She wears a watch for ‘work’ and takes it off when she’s finished for the day.
And she lights a candle once her laptop is packed away.
These are just two quick, simple rituals that work for my friend… what do you do?!
Clutter, whether physical or mental, can be a real source of anxiety and stress… I stumbled across this phrase and it stuck, it’s so true for me and I love to share it:
“Decluttering is the medicine I take for my anxiety”
Coaching is one great way to shift the mental clutter but if physical decluttering is something you’d be interested in getting support or accountability with, please do book in a free half hour call with me. And I’ll be trialling a new way of working very soon which could allow me to support you with remote decluttering 🙂