1. Reclaim your mailboxes.
Think of how much unwanted paper, plastic, stuff – junk- enters your home every week: through your physical mailbox with its magazines, catalogues and solicitations and your e-mail, with its spam, unwanted messages and updates from people and companies you’ve done business with one time. Take a bit of time to unsubscribe from mailing lists, cancel subscriptions, and just make a habit of throwing out. It will make a tremendous difference in space, lightness and freedom from clutter throughout your space, physical and psychic.
2. Purge your files, clean out your drawers and in general de-clutter.
Recycle or throw away papers that you no longer need, and be rigorous with the idea of “need.” For peace of mind, separate out and put your important documents in a fireproof box at home or a safety deposit box in a bank. Then, once a week, take a grocery bag and pick up anything around your house you no longer need- clothes, toys, books, magazines, mail- and either toss it, recycle, or give it to charity.
3. Simplify your finances.
Clean out that wallet. File or get rid of receipts, business cards, phone numbers, and notes that you’ve been carrying around for months. Then go deeper: How can you really simplify your money life? Think about how much easier it would be if you kept only one main credit card and a single back up. Consider consolidating your banking at one institution. For recurring charges on utilities and other similar bills, think about change to automatic billing linked to your checking account or a credit card.
4. Write down the 3-5 things in the world that are most important to you.
Contemplate and decide what really matters, to you: Your family? Your career? Your religious or spiritual life? Your romantic partner? Your fitness? Your hobbies? Read the list at least once every day. Focus on it for a moment, and ask yourself quietly: how am I working on this today? Knowing what you value most in life will enable you to clarify your goals and know what kind of action steps you need to take to move them forward. The clearer your goals are, the simpler you make them, and the more deeply you understand them, the easier it will be to move toward them.
5. Chunk your time.
Designate specific times and specific days to get tasks done. For example, do all of your grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, and stick to that, no matter what (excepting, for example, special foods for young children). Reserve Sundays for church, the recreation you most enjoy, family time, or time with your spouse or romantic partner. Decide to only meet clients Tuesdays through Thursdays. Reserve Mondays for research and new business. Complete administrative tasks every Friday morning. And learn to think of your evenings the same way- maybe one evening you watch a favorite television show (or two or three), on another evening you fold laundry. But make that plan, and stick to it. By chunking your time, you are prioritizing those things that matter most, you are accepting the true limits of our busy schedules, and you are creating more time for the activities that truly inspire you.
6. Just say “no”.
Value your time. If you don’t, no one else will. Respect your goals, obligations and commitments, but acknowledge how much of your time is already spoken for. Say “yes!” joyfully, to the new opportunities that are in line with your vision, but give a firm and polite “No” to the “opportunities,” projects and tasks that aren’t in line with your goals, that will be distractions, or that people (including your kids, can do themselves as well as. Claim your time and declare your respect for yourself.
7. Clean out your car.
What would it feel like if your main mode of transportation was clean, relaxing and welcoming? This is something we so often overlook, don’t even think about, as our cars quietly become repositories of junk and even filth. It just takes a minute to throw away papers, food wrapping, old coffee cups- and only a little more time to stop and vacuum the inside, spray a little Armor All, even roll through the car wash. Start and end your day in a clutter free car, you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel.