At the beginning of each season I do a Seasonal Declutter. It’s a like a good old spring clean. But it’s not just the house that gets attention. I also clean up my computer, social media and email inboxes. I see it as a way to clear out the old, to make way for the new.
I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before, but when we declutter our lives we also declutter our minds. If our lives feel clean, clear and organised, so too will the thoughts in our head.
I find it easier to stay organised if I spend time at the start of each season clearing out what is no longer serving me.
I usually start with the house. I go through each room and pull out what we no longer need or are using. We've always been people that don’t have a lot of stuff. But there is always the odd thing that we can recycle, gift or repair. A cutting board that’s broken. Herbs and spices that have expired. And clothes we no longer wear.
When considering whether something should stay or go I ask myself the following. Have we used this in the last 90 days? And if not, are we likely to use it in the next 90 days? If the answer to both is no, then it is gifted to someone else or recycled if possible. Of course there is always an exception to this rule. I’m not going to throw out our kayaks because we haven’t used them over the winter months. I also don’t touch anything that belongs to my fiancé. If he wants to have shirts hanging in the wardrobe he hasn't worn in the last six years, that’s ok. Those shirts don’t affect my life or my mind.
Once I’ve decluttered a room it gets a good clean. I find it’s a good time to do those cleaning jobs we often forget about. Like making sure there are no cobwebs hiding in corners. Cleaning down the skirting boards. And wiping down window blinds. It’s also a good time to clean the inside and outside of the windows.
Because I am tidy and organised anyway it doesn’t take long. I usually spend a good day on it, but nothing more than that. I’m also not a hoarder. And I don’t have a sentimental bone in my body, so I don’t keep things others might.
I love a clean and organised house. Some people thrive on mess and chaos (I’m pretty sure they’re not the ones reading my blog). Not me. It does my head in. If the house is untidy so is my mind. And I can’t sit down and concentrate on work if the house isn’t sorted first. It’s something I have come to accept. If my house is tidy so is my mind.
At the start of each season I also clean up my computer. I go through all the photos I have saved and delete the ones I’m not going to use, or don’t want to keep. Again because I’m not sentimental I don’t find this hard. Let’s be honest, there are only so many photos of the dogs I actually need. The ones I keep I file into folders so they are easy to find.
I also go through all my work and personal files and clear out anything I no longer need. I make sure everything is filed so it’s easy to find. I clear out any eBooks and eCourses I have not read, or are no longer of use to me. Again I use the 90 day rule I talked about above.
The last thing I do is go through my email inboxes. My work email is usually not a problem as I don’t have anything coming through this inbox that isn’t relevant. I keep this to work communication only. I don’t subscribe to anything through this account. And I have a separate email address for anything personal.
I have three active email addresses. One is for work as I mentioned above. The second is a personal email account. This is where I receive things like my phone bill. And it's the account I use if I’m purchasing books or gifts. I never subscribe to anything with this address. And I’m fastidious at unsubscribing to any newsletter that businesses 'secretly' put me on. For example, I don’t need to know that Kathmandu are having a sale … again. Chances are that when I want to buy something from them, they will be having a sale!
My third email account is for newsletter subscriptions. I am also very particularly about how many newsletters I subscribe to. I try not to subscribe to more than ten at a time. This is the one email account I look at daily, weekly, monthly and seasonally. I ask myself whether each newsletter I subscribe to is relevant to me at this point in time. I might subscribe to a newsletter for a while if I’m interested in learning about Pinterest for example. But once I’ve got a handle on it I unsubscribe. The great thing about newsletter lists is you can always subscribe again. Having a newsletter myself, I know I’m not offended if someone chooses to take themselves off my list. In fact I love the fact that they are choosing to un-clutter their inbox. Particularly if they aren’t interested in reading what I have to say anyway!
The last thing I declutter is my social media accounts. I’m only on two platforms. I have a personal Facebook account, which to be honest I hardly ever look at. I post a photo every now and then so my family knows I’m still alive, but that’s about it. The only platform I’m active on is Instagram. I enjoy the community that follows me, and the people I follow. But I want to ensure that I’m engaging.
Which means looking at the people I follow at the beginning of each season. Again I ask myself some important questions. Do I love the content of their account? Not just the pretty pictures, but what they have to say. Is it someone I engage with regularly? Is it someone I consider a ‘Instagram friend’? And if it’s a business account, are they still providing me with value? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then I unfollow. It doesn’t have to be forever. I’ve followed and unfollowed, and then re-followed so many accounts. I want to be engaged with the people I follow. And if I can’t do that, then there’s a good chance I’m following too many people.
So that’s my Seasonal Declutter. Because I do stay on top of most of these things it usually only takes me a whole weekend to do. If you aren’t in the same place it will take you longer. But it is definitely worth investing in the time to do so.
You will be able to find things faster. It won’t take so long to clean your house each week. You won’t feel overwhelmed every time you open your inbox. And you will feel more engaged with those you interact with on social media.
Not only will adopting a seasonal declutter free up your time, but it will free up headspace. And that can only be a good thing.