Decluttering my brain

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And just like that, I’m back! After a very busy and ‘cluttered’ couple of months, we’ve ‘nearly’ moved and finished our mini renovation on our home for the next year. There is a few little minor bits and pieces to still do but I can see an imminent end in sight. Then to unpack and start the process of building our new home.

Thanks for continuing to follow my journey during my little hiatus. I knew I couldn’t entirely step away from this world because I love it all too much. Although I was super busy, I was still thinking about all the great things I can write about and share. Everytime something popped up in my daily life I’d pop it in my memory bank (or rather Evernote) for later.

Whilst I was ‘gone’ I took part in the Small Steps Declutter Challenge. Perfect timing but also the worst timing. Sometimes though, small things like this can help you clear you mind and feel like you’ve ‘achieved’ something in the day when nothing else has gone right for you!

The free challenge, run by Lisa Corduff over at Small Steps Living was conducted over a 5 day period where participants were emailed a daily ‘challenge’ and short video about it. Lisa is all about making small and meaningful steps in your life to get where you want to be. It doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be time consuming. Every little bit counts.

So what did I learn from this? Well not what I expected! I initially joined the challenge as I was trying to ‘declutter things’ as part of our moving process. This is something I try and do everytime I move house as it’s so easy to store things in a cupboard or drawer and forget about them. Seriously how many empty glass jars does one need? And left over craft materials from when I made our wedding invitations over 5 years ago? Yes I still have them…or rather did! The challenge however wasn’t all about decluttering physical ‘things.’ It made you think about other elements of your life that cause clutter that you probably don’t even realise.

Here’s what I learnt over the five days.

Day 1 Stop beeping

When I first saw the title of this ‘challenge’ I got heart palpitations like most people probably do when they think someone or something is telling them to turn off their phone. I wish I could but I’m not there yet.  But no it wasn’t about turning it off. It was simply about turning off notifications. These are in fact ‘clutter’. They clutter your brain and time and mean you are constantly switched on.

In our modern world with the smartphone technology, we are constantly switched on. Most people have ‘push’ notifications set on their phone. For email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and well everything. This challenge was to set them to ‘fetch’ or off altogether. In that way, you get to choose where and when you get to look at your emails and who has commented on your social media post. It might be a foreign concept but believe it or not, they will still be there. An hour, two hours or even ten hours later. They are not that urgent. If something is, you’ll get a phone call.

In fact I found this an easy one to ease into the challenge. For the most part, I already followed this principle. Just a few checks and tweaks and Day 1 of decluttering was completed. And it only really took up 10 minutes of my day.

Day 2 Bringing sexy back

Well this was an interesting subject heading to arrive in my inbox on Day 2. What has this got to do with decluttering? And then I had a read….and a laugh! This is obviously a problem for every woman. Especially if you have kids.

Remember the days when your underwear actually matched? Pregnancy and then breastfeeding put an end to that for me….twice. Well this declutter challenge was giving me permission to clear out and upgrade! And honestly, how great does it feel when you buy new underwear.

I will admit though, I haven’t yet completed this challenge. Trying to get out of the house with two small children is a challenge in itself let alone actually taking them shopping…and to try on underclothes?!? Forget it. And all my ‘spare’ time has been spent renovating, packing and moving. So it’s on my To Do List for when things settle down. And when I finish breastfeeding my youngest. Trust me it WILL get done.

What I have done though is bag up the old stuff I’m not using instead of it cluttering the drawer. Small steps they say…

Day 3 Minimising food decisions

The Day 3 challenge is the bane of everyone’s existence. Kids or no kids, deciding what to have for dinner when you aren’t organised, haven’t planned anything or get home late is always stressful. And stress clutters your brain and leaves no room for the fun things in life.

This challenge is to simply choose five dinner ideas that you know your family enjoy and write them down in a list on your fridge. Then commit to buying the ingredients and cooking them. Note that it’s only five and not seven….the idea is to make enough leftovers a few nights so that you don’t have to cook for two nights per week!

The intention behind this challenge is to provide another alternative to menu planning which alot of people do find difficult. It’s a small step towards menu planning in a way. Do the same for a few weeks in a row and you will have 15 or maybe 20 ‘meals’ that your family enjoy. Just keep rotating your lists and you are menu planning!

I didn’t actually complete this days challenge. If you’ve been following me you’ll know it’s because I already menu plan a week or two in advance so this isn’t a ‘clutter’ in my life. If you want to know more about how I do it, you can read a previous post I did about it. I actually learnt even more about how invaluable menu planning is during our renovation. Because I always knew exactly what we were haveing for dinner, I’d often get it prepped the night before or at breakfast time. Then it was ready to just cook when I’d come in from a full day of painting!

But for those that don’t menu plan, this is a perfect step towards it and a great decluttering tip.

Day 4 Create a haven

Sometimes I yearn for the days when I felt my house looked more like a display home rather than a childcare centre. But times change and so does your decor! And I love my children so much and honestly wouldn’t want it any other way.

However, I do sometimes feel like my house is never organised. I despise mess and items out of place and just well, things everywhere! Yes, I’m still like this even though I have two children. I drive myself mad cleaning up all the time!

This challenge is all about having ONE decluttered space in your house so that you can use it as your haven. And that’s your bedroom. It’s often a dumping ground for ‘things’ that don’t have a place elsewhere as the door can be shut and everyone is none the wiser. But where is the rest and relaxation at the end of the day come bedtime if you are heading into a cluttered space?

This activity was perfect timing for me. I was just about to start packing to move. Our bedroom definately isn’t cluttered or a dumping ground but there were a few things hiding in cupboards that had been put out of sight, out of mind. That box with the craft materials for the wedding invitations. Shelves of board games that we have that didn’t have a place elsewhere in the house. Empty gifts bags that I’d received presents in (seriously why do we keep some of these things?) Instead of packing them to move, I had permission to ditch them!

Day 5 Protect your feed

Day 1 was really a prelude to Day 5. How often are you scrolling through a Facebook feed and see so much ‘clutter’ that you aren’t even interested in? This daily challenge is all about changing that.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you get to choose what you read and see. You can choose to follow or unfollow pages. You can choose to receive emails and updates. You can choose to read all the content and get sidetracked. Do you really need all that clutter?

The most interesting thing about this challenge was that I’d already started doing this a month or so ago. Way back when, I had started following Facebook pages that I was no longer interested in. How did I know that? Everytime I read an article they had posted I disagreed somewhat with the information it was providing and found (from my point of view) it was misinformed or wrong. Or it was just clickbait. The headline grabbed me, I clicked on it but the substance of the article had nothing to do with the heading and was just rubbish. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. This challenge gave me the push to reassess those pages and friends again.

You can take it even further by changing your subscription preferences or unsubscribing to emails that are no longer relevant. I actually did this earlier in the year as I was beginning to get overwhelmed by the volume of emails I was receiving on a daily basis that I had no interest in.

So there you have it

The five day declutter challenge done. Not what I expected but definately a positive and ‘decluttering’ experience none the less. Clutter is in your life in the most unexpected of places. It’s just as much about ‘mental’ clutter as it is about ‘physical’ clutter.

And one extra thing I took the initiative to do myself. Commit to going back to a yoga class at least once a week. After the kids are in bed and all my tasks are done for the day, I take an hour out to myself. Apart from being an amazing opportunity to stretch (although my yogi doesn’t like that word) my body, it’s a chance to switch off and ‘declutter’ my brain. And you know what? This is the first time that I have done yoga and actually been able to switch off!

If you’re interested in more of these small step initiatives to a heappier and healthier life, check out Lisa’s website for more information about what she does. I’m not affiliated, I just admire what she is doing in this space.

And I’d love to hear about ideas you have for decluttering that you have to share. Leave me some comments.

I’m super excited to be back!

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