Stress is really just an effect of too much stuff on your plate.
When you have 15 tasks in a day to strike off.
A meeting every 30 minutes.
No time to get anything else done.
All of this clutters your mind. No time to think freely.
Which is sad, because the mind needs space, boredom to be creative.
So here’s a quick list on how to declutter your life in 5 easy steps to have the focus needed to get your tasks done.
Your day depends on your energy
When we get up in the morning, we start with a limited set of energy.
There are ways to maximize it, for example smiling.
But any decision you have to make, any negative thought that crosses your mind will drain your energy.
Therefore, the real issue in your life is the clutter in your visual, your life, and your emotions.
If there is a broken toaster in your kitchen for 5 weeks now, every time you walk past it, it steals energy.
You might not realize it consciously, but you lose a thought over it once it penetrates your visual.
You think, “Yeah, right, I still need to do something about that damn toaster.”
And then you start to think of solutions. Decisions to be made. One of them you have to do. That decision is if you act on it now or not.
You rarely notice these things. But they happen all the time.
Throughout your whole day, these things compound. All the little things that annoy you and steal your energy, summarize into a big chunk of energy lost. The easiest way to get that energy back is by fixing these issues.
But with a plan!
Step 1: Make your bed and bedroom
Jordan Peterson famously said, “Clean your room.”
The message behind it is a shorter version of what Confucius once said.
To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life;
and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.
When you make your bed in the morning, you start the day on a clean slate. You already fixed something. You already accomplished something.
I know it is trivial. That is not the point.
It is one less thing to think about.
And it gives you a sense of order in your own life, according to Confucius’ teachings.
You cannot go out into the world, trying to fix it, if you can’t even keep the simplest thing in your own life in order.
You’re basically virtue signaling. I don’t think you want to do that.
And when you come home in the evening and want to go to bed, it’s one less thing you need to take care of. Because it’s already done.
Step 2: Plan your day and stick to it!
Most people just do whatever comes by on a daily basis.
You get up and get to work, and then you just look at what’s happened. Did anything go to shit? A new email with a new task? Just checking trouble tickets to see what’s to do now.
Because those are constant decisions you have to make on what you are going to do next.
Instead, plan your day in advance. Better, plan your week in advance. Pro-move, plan your life pretty far into the future.
Here’s what I do:
Every morning, while drinking my coffee, before I do any task, I plan my day. I write down:
- Six-month goals
- Three-month goals
- This months’ goals
- Weekly goals
- Tasks for today to get me there
Writing these down every morning puts your mind in the right direction. You are reminded where you want to go. What your goals are and how to get there.
Start with six-month goals. THINK BIG. Remember Michelangelo.
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
Then, break those goals down into smaller chunks.
What smaller parts are necessary to make this goal come true.
You want to make $30,000 in six months.
That’s $5,000 a month and roughly $170 a day. What can you do that yields $170 a day? Where are your strengths? What can you sell that adds value?
Brainstorm it and write down goals that get you to $170 a day.
The beauty of this is that it also works as affirmations. You repeat your goals to yourself every day. If you write it down with pen and paper, it’s even better. You set your subconscious up for success.
Step 3: Remove commitments
You might not realize how many commitments you randomly have throughout the day which ruin your focus and make you stressed.
Friends, family calling you randomly?
Colleagues just walking into your office and diverting your attention?
Do you go smoking a cigarette every hour, pulling you out of your flow state?
Make a list of commitments you have each day. Observe your day, write down whenever something seemingly random happened that pulled you out of your flow.
You will be surprised how many times this actually happens.
Then, go on and reduce them. Turn of notifications on your phone. ALL OF THEM.
Put it into airplane mode for an hour.
Ask your boss if you can introduce “flow hours” where nobody calls. Stuff like that.
Free your time, free your mind.
It IS possible. Don’t come at me with excuses. Anyone can do it.
Step 4: Physical declutter
Look at your desk. Is there a lot of stuff lying around?
Your room, your office, your house. Stuff flying around everywhere?
All of it is visual clutter which ruins your focus and mental energy. But you won’t have the time to take a whole day off and fix all of this. Of course not.
Every day, for a maximum of 10 minutes, declutter your surroundings.
Throw out the trash. Remove stuff from your desk. Clean a room.
Stick to the 10 minutes. This way, it doesn’t become annoying. Just something you do quickly every day. Over time, you will clean up your surroundings.
Other piles and cluttered things you might not be aware of:
- The number of opened browser tabs
- Cluttered folders and desktop on your PC
- A hell of an email Inbox (big one)
- Each and every drawer in your house
- The garage
- Your bookshelf
All of it might be a straight mess and you don’t even notice it!
You don’t need to live a minimalistic lifestyle. And it doesn’t have to be sterile like in a hospital. Just remove the clutter.
Step 5: Each day, FINALLY make a decision on one thing
Remember the toaster I mentioned earlier? Stealing your energy every day.
Yes, f*cking fix it!
Use energy today and get it over with! Do not postpone it. Decide what to do!
Can it be repaired? Go out and repair it. TODAY.
Don’t need it anymore? Throw it out. RIGHT NOW.
Do one of these “heavy” decisions each day. Preferably after your morning routine so it’s out of the way.
Again, don’t do too many of them at once. It shouldn’t become annoying.
Bonus step: Meditation
The topic of meditation has been covered a lot, so I won’t go too deep into it.
But what meditation really is is a decluttering of your mind.
Don’t try to force anything. Just let your thoughts flow. It’s like your email Inbox in your head. 500 unread messages. With meditation, you finally get to clear them up.
You don’t need any fancy apps. But if you want one that works with science (it uses frequencies to get your brain to swing on deep meditative frequencies) use the BrainFM app I reviewed here.
But really it’s enough if you just sit still for 10 minutes a day in a quiet room, eyes closed, and do NOTHING.
After these steps, which don’t take more than 30 minutes a day, you will notice heavy improvements in your mental clarity, focus, discipline, and willpower.