A few months ago I decided to go on a mission and clear out the 30,000+ emails that had accumulated in my inbox (sounds fun, doesn’t it!?!). Easier said than done—this process took hours to complete! I vowed to keep up with a clean inbox—never again would I subject this myself to this kind of torture, but lo-and-behold, last week I found myself looking, once again, at an inbox that was full to the brim—to the tune of 15,000 emails.
The problem was that I was being inundated with stuff I did not want to be receiving. And initially, I had only dealt with the surface problem—deleting. When, in fact, what I needed to be doing was taking the time to unsubscribe. This process is much more involved, but upon embarking on this process I had a profound realization—that I was actually missing out on so much good stuff by allowing all of the crap to continue to infiltrate my life. I was missing out on inspiration and opportunities I wanted to participate in because of the excess and overwhelm that I was allowing to creep in.
I love what Marie Kondo says in her life-changing book, The Magic Art of Tidying Up, “Focus on what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of.” In my initial sweep through the inbox, my focus was on what I want to get rid of. This time around, I took a different approach and focused on what I want to keep. And the results have been revolutionary—there is SO MUCH good stuff coming my way that I had failed to see.
I wondered, where else in my life was this occurring? I found it:
- In my relationships—hanging onto certain things that needed to be let go of, so that I could focus on the good, what I love about these relationships
- In my lack of focus career wise—following every interest, letting that puppy in my mind sniff around anywhere and everywhere that intrigued me, left me scattered and working on a million different projects and kept me from diving deep and focusing on the good stuff—the things that really spoke to my heart
- In my day-to-day life, allowing myself be continually distracted cluttered up my brain, and had become a really bad habit, again, keeping me from that which truly brings joy to my life
- In my organizational system—I had sticky notes everywhere, a planner, note pads, journals—I was all over the place
In his book, How to Be Here, Rob Bell states, “Our external environments mirror our internal lives…it’s extraordinary how even small changes in your exterior environment can deeply shape your interior life. Clean, intentional physical space can dramatically affect how calm your mind and heart are.”
I consider my technological life to be an important aspect of my external environment as I spend so much time on the computer. And what I was seeing—my inbox, my Facebook account, the files on my computer were all a cluttered mess! And I can see how this had mirrored my internal environment as well. So I cleaned up shop! The results have been tremendous. I now find myself focused, organized, inspired, and full of joy as a result of the great things that are flowing into my life (and inbox!) simply because I cleared out the clutter. I made space for what I really want.
Where in your life are you feeling overwhelmed by the clutter? Perhaps it is your house, your closet, your desk, your car, or…your inbox…
Choose ONE place to start. It can be tempting to want to dive in and deal with it all, but this will just lead to overwhelm. Focus on the one. What one area do you want to filter through?
When dealing with this one aspect of your external environment, remember to focus on what you want to keep, not what you want to discard. What elements in this space are speaking to your heart? Tune into your body’s response when you handle each item. When you are reading an email from a company you have subscribed to, scan your body. What sensations are you feeling? If you feel open, light, expansive—it’s a keeper! If you find yourself tensing up, shutting down, tight in certain areas, it’s one to discard. This same process applies to material items. If you’re cleaning out your closet, touch every item and tune into your body’s response.
Marie Kondo says, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life.” The results are nothing short of phenomenal and effects will be felt in all aspects of your life.