Clear The Clutter Challenge

Put yourself in the best position to succeed in whatever you do next.

I have temporarily compiled all previous posts on the Clear The Clutter Challenge here for easy reference incase you missed one, or are new to the challenge and want to catch up.  Feel free to share this link with anyone who wants to join us. 

This page is a work in progress.  I plan on turning this into  single cohesive process as it evolves.

Thanks or joining me!

 

Introduction

Cleanup on aisle 5!

I am definitely in need of some cleanup.  

I am fully moved into my new place, and for the most part unpacked, but not organized yet.

A lot of things got put in places that were expedient at the moment, and some stuff just got shoved into the “I’ll get to it later” pile(s). 

The end of the year is approaching quickly and I am already feeling the creative juices flowing about what I would like to accomplish next year, both from a business standpoint and on a personal level.

But I am finding myself distracted by a pile of to-do lists and postponed projects that have been hanging around unfinished.  That’s not how I want to move into the next year.  

I want to be free and clear of clutter and distractions as much as possible so that I can show up as who I know I really am.

Often, when I work with clients who want to take action on their dreams, they aren’t ready yet, because they first have to clean something else up, tie up loose ends, or get organized and then prepared.

Plus, from a practical standpoint, future actions are bound to be easier, more efficient and more productive if there aren’t energy leaks and time sucks distracting or slowing things down.  

So before you take action on that new project or direction, drop the baggage and put yourself in the best position to succeed in whatever you do next.

And this is the part where I take my own advice….

I’ve decided to focus every week between now and the end of the year on cleaning up the clutter in my life, to ensure that I am ready to put my best foot forward in the new year.

Now there is nothing special about making changes during the New Year, other than it’s kind of a tradition for many people, but this is something I want to do anyway, and the timing just happened to work out.

So I am inviting you to join me!  Let’s do it together, share our experience, and hold each other accountable.

And it’s OK if you don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

If you are feeling stuck, low energy, confused or even overwhelmed, you will be surprised at how much better you will feel going through this process.  

Not only will you feel more clear, focused and energized, you will feel a huge sense of relief as you clear off whatever has been languishing on the “back burner” of your life.  

And even if you weren’t originally planning on making any changes in your life before you began, you may be surprised to find yourself inspired along the way.

So each week I will focus on an aspect of clutter in my life (and probably yours too), and give more details about what to focus on with tips on how to maximize your results.

If you decide to join me, comment below so I know you are on board.

Tomorrow I will post our focus for week 1.  Stay tuned!

 

Week 1 – Deep Clean

So let’s get started!  

The first week is Spring (Fall) Cleaning!

I know from my own experience, that when I take the time to really clean my house, I always feel better afterwards.  

A deep clean, something that I would normally only do a few times a year feels like a new beginning, and that is what we are going for.

So, this week doesn’t take much explanation.  Just do a deep clean of your house.  

I realize that this means different things to different people, but the idea is to feel like your house is clean before we get started.  

That way, as you are pulling things out and moving them around, you won’t feel like you are just moving dirt around, or the need to stop and clean as you go.  

You can put stuff away, but you don’t need to get rid of anything or organize anything right now. Also, I would suggest opening the windows if weather permits.  Fresh air makes a big difference.

So, if you have piles of papers etc. on your desk, a counter or table by your front door that catches everything as you walk in, or some other such place, now is the time to clear it off.  

The goal is to create open space and surfaces to allow the energy (and your creativity) to flow. 

If the pile is dishes, clean them. If the pile is laundry, do it. Throw everything else in a box or bag and stash it out of sight.
 
If it’s part of a pile, you won’t need it for a while, and if you do, you know where it is.
 
Taking all your clutter and putting it someplace you can’t see it may sound strange, but….
 
Spoiler alert!
 
We will be going through those boxes and bags next week.
 
But this week is all about the deep clean. It’s time to move stuff around, get into the corners, scrub when you usually wipe and yes, even dust (cough cough sneeze)!
 
Even though you haven’t really gone through anything yet, just clearing the space will create a shift in your awareness of your environment.
 
If after cleaning your house, you feel inspired to keep going, then by all means, do so. It’s natural to want to keep going once you gain some momentum.
 
But it isn’t necessary. The idea of this challenge is to pick one thing to focus on each week, so that you can clear the clutter in your life in bite sized chunks.
 
Now once you finish cleaning, spend the rest of the week really feeling your new space. What do you notice? How does it feel different?
 
It may feel open and clear. It may feel oddly a little uncomfortable, or even vulnerable depending on how long the clutter has been there.
 
But it will feel different. Allow yourself to feel it.
 
And keep it pile free!
 
We aren’t just doing this as a one off. This is the first step to changing the pattern in your life that created the clutter in the first place.
 
Great!  Cleaning the house will open the energy and create a clear slate for everything that comes next….

 

Week 2 – Going Through The Piles

Ahhh, the sound of squeaky clean!

I have to admit though that I am appreciating that I have you to hold me accountable in actually doing it for myself as well.  

Let’s just say that my mastery of procrastination met my desire to clear the clutter this week, and knowing that you are doing it with me, helped to make sure that I didn’t put it off any longer. 😉

So before we continue, take a moment to congratulate yourself on what you have accomplished!  Look around and feel the joy of a clean house.  Allow yourself to take the credit and feel the pride of a job well done.

So what’s next?

Well as I mentioned last week.  This week is all about going through the piles that we shoved into boxes, bags, under the bed, or in the closet or garage.

Now that your space is clean and open, you can go through one pile at a time, turning this week into bite size chunks.  

And just to be clear, this week is about focusing on the “things”.  Next week we will be focusing on going through those piles of notes, papers and files.

Depending on the size and content of those piles, this may be unneeded, but I would recommend that as you go through them, you first sort them into one of the following categories:

  • Trash – Let’s face it.  Some of that stuff is really just trash that you haven’t gotten rid of yet.  You will know it when you see it.  It is time to let it go. 
  • Charity – Those things that are in good condition, but you know that you don’t need them anymore.  If you still think that you might need it in the future after all this time, ask yourself the question, “Can I easily or cheaply get another one if I ever need to?”
  • Keep And Organize – These are the items you know you are keeping. Time to put everything away. Is there already a designated place to put it?  If not, pick one that makes sense to you.  

Pro Tip!  There is nothing wrong with having a “junk drawer,” where odds and ends live that don’t really belong anywhere else.  Just make sure that they are things that you actually use, and that you limit yourself to only one such drawer, or box.  If you find you need more than one, then you need to find a new home for some of it.

If the item has sentimental or monetary value, or if you want to make sure that it “finds a good home,” store it someplace for now.  I will cover these items in the weeks to come.  This week is about the “low hanging fruit” that you already know what to do with and so requires little effort or consideration for a clear decision that feels good.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the idea of going through everything, remember you don’t need to do it all at once.  I recommend scheduling time each day this week to go through at least one drawer, bag, or box.  

Even if you don’t get through it all by the end of the week, there will be 7 piles less than before.  This alone will help you to feel better.  It will also help you to create a new pattern; making it easier to continue later.

Great!  Everything now has a place and is actually where it is supposed to be.  

If you are not used to having items organized, then you might even forget where you put them LOL, but  you will remember with practice, especially items that you use on a regular basis.

You may also find that as you continue to use certain items, that it makes sense to reorganize them again later.  That’s fine too.

The way that you change the clutter pattern this week, is to focus on how awesome it is to know where everything is when you need it, and allow that feeling to inspire you to put it back when you are done using it.

These first few weeks, we are focusing on the obvious “stuff” that we see around us everyday.  Having a clean house with everything put away makes a HUGE difference in how the energy flows in your life and thus how you feel.

 

Week 3 – Paper Piles And Files

This week is all about the paper piles and files, and we are going deeper than just the obvious stuff.  It’s time to release some of that outdated stuff you’ve been holding onto.

And you will feel so much better for it.

I find it amazing how many times I have an idea that I don’t want to forget and find a sticky note or piece of paper to jot it down.  

Of course over time, these build up into their own kind of pile.  I don’t want to just throw them out, because they are full of things I wanted to remember or share.  

However, setting aside the time to go through them, organize them, and rewrite them (or type them) onto something more permanent (and legible) often seems low on my priority list. 

Time to address those.

You may not have a pile of sticky notes like me, but you likely have other types of paper piles.

We aren’t just shoving things somewhere we can’t see them this time.  Now is the time to actually go through them and organize them.

Which brings up another point.  If you don’t already have specific files or folders for different documents, now is the time to create them.  If you already have them, now is the time to go through them.

Now is also the time to let go of those things that you don’t need anymore as well.  

You may want to have a paper shredder handy.  If you don’t, places like Office Depot or Office Max offer bulk shredding services.

Here are some examples to look for to get the juices flowing:

  • Mail, which you assume is mostly junk, or unwanted bills, and haven’t gone through yet.
  • The catchall file folder or drawer.  It seemed important enough to keep, but you didn’t take the time to actually put it in the right folder.  
  • Still have taxes from 10 years ago?  I found that I still had taxes from 20 years ago.  Lol. 
  • Expired registration, subscription, or various insurance documents?  Anything that gets renewed every year.  You probably only need the latest version on file.
  • Old utility bills?  Do you need them?  Probably just the latest with your account and security key, in case you need to call.
  • Receipts.  Ahhhhh receipts.  Maybe they are for reimbursement, or your personal budget.  If you keep them, you know what I’m talking about.
  • If you work from home like me, and many more people do these days due to Covid, then your “office” likely has meeting notes, to do lists, reminders, memos etc. taking up valuable space on your desk. 
  • Are you old school?  Do you have a bulletin board, cork, magnetic or otherwise?
  • Do you collect coupons?  They do expire, you know….

You will likely find other types of paper piles and files to go through once you start the process, but this should be enough to get moving in the right direction.

I managed to get rid of an entire filing cabinet of stuff when I did this before I moved.  Nevertheless, simply changing my address seems to have created a large pile of newly updated documents for me to go through.

How does the old saying go?  Nothing is certain, but death and taxes?  I’ll add paperwork to that.

But I would also add, that the feeling of clearing out the old and organizing what’s left, almost makes it worth it. 

Week 4 – Digital Files

Let’s face it.  These days, most of the “paperwork” that we deal with on a regular basis is really paper at all.  

It’s digital.

But it can still clog the pipes of our energy flowing the same as the more fibrous variety.

So what does digital clutter look like?

Email: 

Most email services have filters now that help separate or categorize emails into primary, social, promotional etc.  We aren’t going to reinvent the wheel. 

Let’s just look at what is currently useful to you. 

How many subscriptions do you have?  

Have you ever signed up for a newsletter to get that free e-book and never read any of the emails sent afterwards?

Click on it and scroll to the bottom to hit unsubscribe.  If you ever miss it, you can resubscribe later.

 Are you receiving information that is current and relevant?

For example, I no longer need to know when a pet is missing in an area I lived in 8 years ago.

Notification based emails. 

Often these are social based, such as Facebook (now Meta) sending you an email every time someone likes your post, or Nextdoor that sends you an email for seemingly every post made?

All these sites have email management options.  If you go to the site directly, somewhere in the options, you can choose your email preferences to make sure that you are only receiving what you want.

You get the idea.  Clearing your inbox starts with reducing how you receive to begin with.

So what to do with what’s left?  

I know people who delete every email once they are done with it to keep their inbox clean.

Personally, I just “mark as read,” so it is still available in case I need it in the future.

But whatever your method is, if you have a pile of unread emails, now is the time to go through them.  

Find that squeaky clean inbox feeling. 

Photos:

Photos are awesome!  They capture the moment and allow you to share it with others or remember it in the years to come.

As with emails, many services offer direct backup to the cloud, often dated or even categorized.

Again.  It’s all about the feeling.  If that is sufficient for you then great.  

But if you have been wanting to go through, say recent  vacation photos to pick out the “good ones” to share, and make a folder to organize the rest, now is the time.

Just like paper folders, create picture folders that make sense and make it easy to find what you are looking for in the future.

Cloud Files:

Maybe you only use the cloud for backup, or maybe you use it daily as a virtual workspace.  Either way, like any catchall, if it isn’t organized, it becomes cluttered by default.

You may only need general category folders, or you may need multilayered versioning systems.

I find that how someone organizes their files can be specific and very personal to them, so find a way that works and makes sense to you.

I would suggest however something other than just using the search bar, or scrolling through, trying to remember the date of the last time you worked on it. 😉

Local Files:

These are primarily found in either the Download or Documents folders by default (In Windows.  I have no idea what IOS calls them).  When was the last time you cleaned them out?  

Probably the last time you needed additional disk space lol.

Time to go through and see what is worth keeping, or maybe even backing up to the cloud or external drive.

So what’s next?

Overall, depending on how big of a project this week is for you, you may want to focus on simply organizing what you have into piles (folders) that you can go through later.

Or now may be the perfect time to really go through stuff and get rid of what you don’t need.  

Digital storage gets cheaper everyday, so you may feel like leaning to the side of keeping all those files.  That’s fine.  It’s the feeling we are going for.

And if you feel good about the state of your digital files then mission accomplished.

After 4 weeks of clearing clutter, you should now be experiencing a new sense of freedom and flow in your life.

So what’s next?

The Clear The Clutter Challenge isn’t just about clearing the old clutter.  It’s also about preparing yourself for what you decide to do next, with the New Year in mind.

So, starting next week, we will be taking a look at what you can do in preparation for things to come.

That way, whatever you decide to do in the New Year, you can hit the ground running.