Emotional Spring Cleaning: Strategies to Increase Your Productivity

Warning: Your Health May Be Affected As Well

Spring-Cleaning_Happy.jpg

The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment. ~Marie Kondo

I’m pretty sure that magical Marie Kondo speaks both literally and figuratively when speaking about feeling happiness in the environment in which you reside. Extending beyond the physical and into your mental landscape (where all sorts of hoarded up sh*t lives!)

Let’s be honest, there’s so much old, useless stuff boxed up in our mental landscape that serves no purpose. Our brains, which main focus is to make sure we survive and thrive, does not use all that boxed up information productively, so why hold onto this mental garbage?

I’m a walking well of utterly useless information which I’m certain is the reason ideas get lost, caught in the tangled web of thoughts and memories I have harbored in my brain. It’s a minefield in there, you never know what you may unearth and how that can sidetrack you for minutes, to hours, to even days. 

When it comes to physically cleaning my house, which for me isn’t on the Marie Kondo level, but it’s pretty darn close, I feel lighter on the inside. There is a physical reaction I get like I’ve carved out space for myself and I can move around with a little more freedom, almost as if I can spread my wings a little wider. I’m one of those people who after they clean a room, will keep walking back into it just so I can stand there, admiring my handiwork with a half smile glued to my face. 

It makes me feel that good. I accomplished something. I’m organized, I got things labeled, put away in nice containers, there’s no more clutter… I’d go so far as to put this on the same level of really good sex! You’re breathless, a little sweaty, happily languishing in the moment with a giddy smile on your face, maybe a high five thrown in for good measure. You feel really good ;)

The power of spring cleaning clearly cannot be denied. It also falls during a great time on the calendar. Corporately speaking, we’re in the second quarter of the calendar year and what better time to look back on the year and review what we’ve accomplished and how we can improve going forward.

Turning this process inward and doing an emotional spring cleaning is a great yearly ritual as well. Remember those resolutions you set all the way back in January? Now is a good time to go back and see how you’ve progressed. Maybe you have to re-focus to get yourself realigned to accomplish those goals. Now’s the time! Or maybe you have exceeded your expectations and you can now set even bigger goals.

Going about cleaning out your mental clutter doesn’t have to be a gross undertaking either. Sometimes you’re going to have to dig into the dark, dirty crevices and sit with a memory or thought that brings up some icky feelings, but even simply bringing it to light can help lessen its effect on you. And while you may not be able to rid yourself completely of this memory or thought, you can place it in a healthy perspective so it’s not throwing you for a loop every time it decides to untether itself from its dark and dirty corner right into your lap. 

In my past life, I had a traumatic experience when coming home from work one night only to find that my fiance had packed up all his stuff and bolted without a word to me. Three months before the wedding. 

The image of bare hangers in his closet, some hanging, some on the floor, and his empty drawers with a paper clip here and a loose button there, haunted me for years. And even now, almost 15 years later, a song on the radio can propel me back to that time in an instant. 

I’m not getting rid of those memories unless I go through some sort of mental shock therapy, and quite honestly, I don’t want to forget those memories, they’re a part of the woman I’ve grown into. They’re part of my fabric, weaved into my true self. 

But I’ve learned to not let them ruin my day anymore. They pop up, I see them, ruminate over it for maybe a minute, and then I put them back in their box, up on the shelf, and walk away.

Spring cleaning is taking the toxic junk and filing it away, instead of allowing it to run amuck, creating chaos, despair, and providing you a reason to wallow in it. (Thus creating massive un-productivity.)

We can get all tripped up in our heads which in turn can create varying levels of chaos in our physical worlds. We get caught up in our thoughts, and old limiting beliefs that serve no purpose. (Which by the way have no scientific backing proving their validity. Are you really not good enough or is that something that’s easier to hold onto than putting in the hard work required to prove otherwise?) 

Clean that thinking up and increase your ability to be more productive, if you’re looking for that. Maybe you’re as productive as you want to be and you’re in a good head space… then bravo my friend, there are a many who are jellie of your position!

Increasing your productivity can be directly correlated to cleaning up your mental clutter. 

This doesn’t have to be a dirty, mind-bending task. This is more about creating space in your day that isn’t spent last-minuting things and coming when you should be going. It’s about being more efficient so you can enjoy that satisfied feeling, like when cleaning a room. 

Get your sh*t in order so you can actually get to the things that light you on fire, and fill you with passion. I love feeling like I have a purpose when waking up, it’s those days I’m able to get out of bed filled with excitement, which is a welcome reprieve from the other days when getting out of bed is a chore. 

It’s not that difficult to take a little time to get a few minor things in place that will go a long way in helping you to get more out of your day, allowing you to accomplish goals and be more productive. 

Ways to Simplify Life and Become More Productive

Spring-Cleaning-Your-Mind.jpg

Here are a few simple and easy wins you can bring into your day to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Try them on for a change and see how well they fit into your life. 

(In an attempt to manage expectations, these tactics aren’t mind-blowing, out of the box ideas. This is about sh*t you know you should be doing that you’re not, and I’m here to keep it real. Why you’re not doing this stuff, I’m sure you have your reasons, but maybe you’d like to figure that out because it’s tripping you up and leaving you feeling less than productive.)

Plan your meals

Yes, this seems very rudimentary, but I’m telling you, to have a plan in place so you’re not eating crap for dinner is motivation enough to start flipping through all those cookbooks you’ve collected. 

If going old school with printed word is not your thing, there are about a million other ways you can go online and create a meal plan, or have one created for you. Check out Plan To Eat, PlateJoy, the Six O’Clock Scramble or many of the other services for little to no cost. It’s worth the chance to wave goodbye to the evening mad dash around your kitchen attempting to feed adamant little ones who want their dinner NOW! 

If you employ this little tactic, you seriously will feel like Mom-of-the-Year. 

Health Warning: Planning ahead will allow you to avoid the last-minute pizza dinner, the frozen waffles breakfast for dinner theme, and the boxed mac n’ cheese we’ve all fallen prey to. Veggies will be planned for, prepped and ready to eat when little monsters get hangry. And when picking at your kid's leftovers, you won’t feel so guilty because it will most likely be veggies you’re eating, not tater-tots. 

Write a daily to-do list

Now I struggle with this one, and I’ve figured out why. 

I have come to believe that if I write something down and I don’t get to it, then I’ve failed. And I’m pretty sure I’ve failed enough in my life to last twenty lifetimes, so I’m over it. Here’s how I changed that thought pattern.

When I’m not getting something done on my list, I delete it. Boom, no lingering guilt. Clearly, it’s not that important. Or if it’s something mundane like making a dentist appt for my kids, I decide right then and there to call up and get it done. Those are not the kind of things I want lingering on my list. That’s just pure laziness and I call my lazy ass on it. And it actually feels good. 

Sometimes calling yourself out is helpful. Don’t go overboard with it though, this is not a self-deprecating moment… just say, what’s up self, why can’t you do this? See what self says and then stop the conversation and make a decision. Cross it out, or get it done. Move on.

To-do lists will organize your life and allow to actually get more stuff done than if you head out the door, keys in hand, uncertain of where you’re even heading! 

Health Warning: You may become addicted to working out because it’s something you’ve placed on your to-do list every single day. It’s a mentally uplifting non-negotiable you’ve been trying to add into your life repeatedly but didn’t know how. Now you do! And if you find this to be the one thing that’s always getting crossed off your list, you need to start asking yourself some powerful questions.

Get up before everyone else

Ain’t gonna lie, this one is a toughie. I fought this one for the longest time. It didn’t work for me the few times I tried it in the past as it only gave my kids all the more reason to get out of bed at 5 am and begin playing. I realized I was starting my day as Mom that much earlier and that was not working for me. 

So there may be a chance that this isn’t the right time for you to try this, and that’s cool. Turns out this year is better for me to get up at 5:15 because my kids are a year older and sleeping a little more soundly. I get in about an hour of uninterrupted time to write and I actually love it. Me. Who’s not a morning person. Never have been. Never wanted to be. Now I really enjoy it. It can happen for you too. 

This time allows you to do some of the things you claim you have no time for during the day. Now you may get overly excited at the thought as you think of all the things you can get done in that time, but I’ll tell you one thing, it’s best to have a plan (another plan, yes!) for what you want to accomplish when you wake up. Simply waking up with no plan will put you either on a social media site, get you checking email, or have you hightailing it back into bed. 

Get a plan, get your sh*t together, and do something to help you become more productive. 

Health Warning: Creating this sacred space in the morning has the ability to open you up to new experiences. When the sun rises early you can go for a nature walk, practice meditation, start a writing practice, stretch your body… you can do the things you never get to during the day that will do wonders for your mindset. 

All of these tips center around the theme of organizing your life so you can steer your ship a little more efficiently. There is power in cleaning, planning, and organizing and it will serve you well if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with life. Dissect things, break them down and then tackle them. This philosophy works in all aspects of your life, you just have to take the time from your hectic, over-scheduled, alarmingly overwhelmed life so you can realize you have more power than you thought. 

• • •

So what’s it going to be? Are you willing to try at least one strategy, or do you think all three might be just the boost you need to become more productive in your life? Share in the comments below, I would love to know what’s working for you!