Awwwww…It’s almost spring. Birds chirp away in the morning, the temperature yoyos between dawn and dusk, flowers are budding and pollen fills the air. Leave anything outside for more than a couple of minutes and it’s sure to be coated in a thin layer of yellow dust. If you suffer some seasonal allergies, like myself, you do everything you can to keep the allergens out of your house. This is typically when we get the “spring cleaning” fever. No are of your home is safe from a dose of scrubbing and reorganization. While we all typically set out to do this annual cleaning and organizing ritual, I can’t help but wonder how many people also spring clean their life. Just like we go through our physical space and purge, clean and organize, the same should be done in our mental space. So as you go through the process of spring cleaning your home, I encourage you to also take a look at four key areas of your life to give a good spring cleaning.
Key area #1 – Your relationships
As we grow both personally and professionally there tends to be people in our lives that aren’t growing at the same rate as us. This can create tension and envy, especially when you’re trying to break away from destructive habits and patterns. Friends and family members may feel as though you “think you’re better” than them or that you think more highly of yourself than you ought. If you have a friend or family member who is negatively influencing you or who makes you feel bad for pursing your goals, perhaps it is time to distance yourself from them. In some cases, you may need to break ties altogether in others you’ll want to limit your interaction with them. It is critical that you surround yourself with people who add to your life rather than subtract from it. Choose to spend time with people who will push you to your greatness and not hold you back. Like Joel Osteen said, “You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life.”
Key area #2 – Negative thought patterns
No matter how confident or successful a person it they still have negative thought patterns. We all have them. Especially us ladies. We look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we aren’t pretty enough, good enough, talented enough, or some other minimizing thought. We tend to focus on our perceived weaknesses rather than our strengths. These “alternative facts” serve us no purpose. However, most of them have been ingrained in us from childhood. Show do you break free? Change the story you tell yourself. I’m a firm believer in positive affirmation. Whenever I’m trying to change a thought pattern, I go to the bible and find scriptures related to the new message I want to train my brain to play. I write them index cards and read them aloud myself. I recently created a “morning pump-up” playlist on my IPhone with songs that lyrically express the type of life I want to lead. I play it every morning and sing along. It is a powerful reminder, when facing challenges, of the power I possess.
Key area #3 – Habits
I don’t want to use the term “bad” habits because that typically gets us thinking in extremes, like overindulgence of food or alcohol, smoking, swearing, addictions and other similar habits. Of course, you should break these types of habits, but what I’m really referring to are the things like checking your social media accounts all day long, allowing others to distract you from your goals, spending hours watching television every day and consistently procrastinating. These are activities that rob you of your productivity. If you’re working on achieving a goal, managing your productivity habits are critical to obtaining your goal in the time frame you set. If you find yourself sucked into social media land for far more time than you expected, consider setting a timer to limit your time devoted to it. You can also reward yourself with Facebook catch up time. Maybe you are a procrastinator. You could adopt the “eat the frog” mindset and do “that” thing first you hate doing or tend to procrastinate on completing. Something that I actively have to combat is distractions. I constantly have students and employees coming in my office for various reasons. When I’m working on a time sensitive project, I have to limit those distractions. One of the techniques I’ve adopted is to tell them that I’m very interested in what they have to say and want to give them my full attention. Then I ask would it be alright if I can finish up the project and get back with them. This is a win-win for both of us. I get to finish my project in a timely manner and they feel valued. The key here is to ACTUALLY get back with them as promised. Be creative in finding ways to give bad habits the boot.
Key Area # 4 – Digital Clutter
This particular area is often overlooked when cleaning or purging. However, it is just as important to have a regular maintenance schedule for your devices. The first thing you might think of when it comes to digital clutter is likely email. We’re inundated with hundreds of emails on a daily basis and getting to inbox zero may seem like an impossible feat. If you’re anything like me you’re subscribed to a plethora of email lists. The thought of having to take the time to unsubscribe to the one’s you’re no longer interested in can be a bit daunting. Unroll.me is a great tool to use to both unsubscribe to unwanted emails and it has a feature that allows you to receive a single email will all of your subscriptions where you can easily decide to read or delete each one with a swipe of your finger. You should also delete unused or infrequently used apps from your devices. Having apps that aren’t used taking up space on your electronic devices causes it to run more slowly, sort of like a drain with a gunky build up. You should also regularly delete unnecessary photos and back up the important ones to a cloud service or external hard drive. I mean seriously….do you really need to keep all 150 selfies on your phone that you posted to Instagram and Facebook? I would venture to say, no. Additionally, review your phone and email contacts. Delete any that are no longer active or that have no significance to your current life, especially, former love interests.
Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to spring clean your life, however, it should get you on the pathway to thinking about things that you don’t consider when setting out on this annual cleaning ritual. Do you have other tips or tools for managing virtual clutter? Drop me a comment. I’d love to hear about it.