Sometimes I think of distraction as a thief that first comes as a friend. I only see its real identity after it’s taken something more valuable from me.
Daily distractions are like little sponges, absorbing all your energy.
Energy I want for my relationships, contribution, purpose, and passion. The first (and most effective) step my family took to minimize our daily distractions was to de-own a lot of our stuff. Our constant moves due to my husband’s job only seemed to solidify the need simplify.
We (I) can be doing good things all day long, but if we aren’t intentionally prudent in choosing, those good things can take away better things–much better things.
About four years ago I gave myself the ‘bad mom of the year’ award. My phone rang shortly after lunch, and it was the secretary at my daughter’s school calling to tell me that my daughter was waiting for me to pick her up from school. Pick her up?! It’s only just past lunch, I thought. “You know, today is Early Release Day at school, and pick-up time was 30 minutes ago”, she said politely. My heart sank as I pictured my daughter sitting there wondering how I forgot her. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten it was Early Release Day and I wasn’t there to get my daughter when her school day ended.
I was sleep deprived with a newborn. That in itself could excuse my memory lapse! But I saw it as all the more reason to declutter my life.
The things I did that day were good things—paying bills, changing diapers and feeding my baby, responding to important emails, cleaning up the house, re-organizing my stuff, and chatting with my neighbor. But I saw I had been robbed by distraction after I missed picking up my daughter on early release day–breaking our trust and putting a big dent in the happiness of early release for her.
Looking back at that event, I thought of ways my minimalist approach to life has helped free me from the thief of distraction. We all need to start somewhere, and the first step for me was removing a lot of excess, all that little stuff.
Purging made the largest impact in keeping the daily distractions at bay.
If you’re constantly distracted, consider the first step to be decluttering your home. Below are some points of practical direction to get you started on your journey.
Choose-and remember- your more
Purging your clutter to a manageable amount can be really difficult, emotionally and physically. It takes time and a consistent, repeated effort. When you make the decision to pare down, remember your more. You may be simplifying because you want more peace, clarity, sanity, purpose, and more time to pursue your passions and relationships. Whatever your more is, think on it and remember it.
Soak up online resources from people who have been on the journey to simplify. Surround yourself with an encouraging community of like-minded supporters, the ones who will understand this new journey you are on.
Find your method
Choose a method of decluttering that works for you and your particular lifestyle. There is no one size fits all. We have different lives and different needs. The only right way is the one that will work for you. I think Anthony Ongaro’s article on the pros and cons of 6 popular decluttering methods is very helpful.
Make the time
Set aside time during the week to sort through your stuff. That may be 10 minutes a day or 7 hours a week. All intentions will be just that if we don’t set some time aside to complete the task. Remember that the goal is to sort through your stuff for a designated period of time, not necessarily to have it all complete in one sitting.
Decide your approach
Make the decision ahead of time what the fate will be of your clutter. Not the sentimental, but all the rest that didn’t end up in the trash.
Are you going to take the “selling approach” or the “donation approach”? The answer to this question will be different for all of us. But ask yourself these questions, “How much energy do I have? Do I need the money? And most important, will it hinder my main purpose to have a home uncluttered?”
Pick the obvious
We chose to remove the items we didn’t use or love, even though they were perfectly good items. I shared more about our personal approach here. If your home has visible clutter, it might not be a good idea to start by spreading out the clutter in more space than it is already taking up. Pick items to purge that require little contemplation—stuff you are willing to throw in the trash—stuff not worth saving for repair. If you aren’t quite ready to throw items away, consider setting them out with a “free” sign. If they don’t disappear in a day, you may be more inclined to throw them away.
Bring a friend
I always say, “Two are better than one.” Enlist help. No, asking for help doesn’t mean your weak, it’s a sign that your human. Your friend may be sorting through it with you or picking it up at your door and taking it to a donation drop off. Having a friend help on any level can provide support, accountability, and encouragement.
Set yourself up to succeed
Don’t start out running on empty. Set yourself up with the energy and motivation to do this. Turn on the music, grab a snack, a cup of coffee, tea, lemon water, Kombucha or whatever suits your fancy. And declutter like a boss.
Music improves our mood, and our mood affects our productivity.
“In biological terms, melodious sounds help encourage the release of dopamine in the reward area of the brain, as would eating a delicacy, looking at something appealing or smelling a pleasant aroma.” (Dr. Amit Sood, a physician of integrative medicine with the Mayo Clinic)
Distractions will be thrown our way. Today. Tomorrow. And the next.
I don’t have this journey all figured out, and that’s ok. But I do think life is much better with less stuff, and more stuff means more distractions.