As a self-proclaimed workaholic I rarely get a day off, or should I say I rarely TAKE a day off. I work when I’m sick, I work when I should be sleeping and I have even worked when I was supposed to be on vacation. In addition to being a workaholic I am also an entrepreneur. It is hard to stop working when there is a never ending to-do list. No matter what is going on in my world or the world around me – I am working long hours, dealing with unexpected stress and rarely taking time for myself.
With a new variant of the Coronavirus continuing to spread, many of us are still working from home and practicing some forms of social distancing. Many of us may see this as a great time to get more work done. No more in office interruptions, no commuting and no need to leave and go to lunch as you’ve probably stored plenty of food. The Coronavirus has taken a lot of things away from us but it has also given us time… a lot of it.
Eventually we will be past the pandemic so now is a great time to take advantage of the extra time we have been given. I challenge you to do what may seem unthinkable for many… I challenge you to resist the urge to use the extra time we now have to work more, to endlessly read articles about the pandemic or to mindlessly scroll through Instagram. Instead you should take this time to rest, reset and spring clean your life. I am by no means a wellness expert and my mom will tell you that I am definitely not a cleaning expert. But, like many of you reading this article I oftentimes bury myself in work to avoid dealing with the other parts of my life. My work had become the most important thing in my life, prioritizing it above things that maybe I shouldn’t, most of which is myself. And I know I am not the only one.
In late January of 2020, before most of us were paying much attention to the Coronavirus, I chose to do my own version of social distancing. My choice had nothing to do with avoiding a deadly virus and everything to do with my life as a whole. After a challenging second half of 2019 I felt that I needed to approach what felt like burnout a little differently than what was recommended to me. Instead of talking with a friend over cocktails, getting the objective opinion of my therapist or going on a much needed vacation – I chose to social distance – not just physically but also mentally, via communication and in every other way you can imagine. I stepped away from my life and essentially hit pause on my friendships, work and family. Two months into my self imposed quarantine, I had spring cleaned my life, renewed my sense of self and picked up a new hobby (painting!). It was one of the best decisions I could have made and I hope that the lessons and tips I learned along the way can help you spring clean your own life which will not only make you a better person but it will also make you better at the work you do.
Here are my tips on how to spring clean your life
Notify Your Loved Ones
It is important that those that you communicate with the most know of your plans. Reach out and let them know that you are taking a social break and that they will likely not hear from you as much as they normally would. This will allow you to prepare both yourself and your loved ones for your “time away”. It will also cut down on the number of calls and texts you get about random things that are not really important and that will distract you from your mission. The one exception for this rule is that I suggest you have a spring cleaning “buddy”. Someone you trust that can help you prioritize when needed, keep you motivated and help you weigh your choices when you may have tough decisions to make.
Prepare To Be Lonely
Spring cleaning your life is not easy and is oftentimes a lonely process. Your mom can’t tell you if you should keep a certain item of clothing and your best friend is not going to tackle your Dropbox organization project. You may become angry, sad and frustrated, but these are all normal reactions. Just remember that there is a finish line and you are making steady progress to get there. You will also naturally want to distract yourself with a text to a friend or maybe with Instagram. This is not suggested. Resist the urge to distract yourself and focus on the task at hand… focus on YOU.
Before you begin to spring clean your life make a list of what you want to accomplish. Do you finally want to purge your closet or fix the towel bar that’s been broken in your bathroom for two years? Write down any and everything that you want to spring clean and then prioritize that list. I suggest starting with a small project before moving on to larger projects that will require more of your time and energy. For example, I have a sectional couch in my living room that I have had for a decade. The sections of the couch always separate with what seems like the slightest movement and it has annoyed me for years. After putting it on my list I used google to research what I needed, found the parts on Amazon for $5 and just like that, fixed and done. The amount of joy I felt after sitting on my couch for the first time knowing that the sections would not separate was the equivalent of finding money in my jeans that I forgot was there. I have made a list of some spring cleaning suggestions at the end of this article that may help.
Be Gentle With Yourself
As a workaholic, I am a get it done type of person. I have always wanted to get from point A to point B in the most efficient and economical way possible. That’s some of my perfectionism perking up. I am here to tell you that spring cleaning your life is not quick and likely not cheap either. It will take time to prioritize things and will likely take money to address a lot of your list. There will be a lot of trial and error and you often have to make a complete mess before you know how to put things back together. Please be gentle with yourself and don’t expect things to be perfect in a day or even a week. Take a break when you need to, reward yourself for the small wins and accept that even when you are done there will still be work to do. Imagine doing a really deep cleaning of your bathroom and then never cleaning it again. Your bathroom would be disgusting in a few weeks. Doing a deep clean of your life allows you to start with a fresh, clean slate but it also requires that you do some regular maintenance.
Prepare to Be Emotional
Cleaning, clearing, purging, dusting are all words to describe what you will be doing both internally and externally. The point of this deep clean of your life is to take stock of what you have, clear out what no longer serves you and organize what remains so that you can live a more fulfilling and joyful life. We have all heard of the Marie Kondo method of cleaning the clutter out of our closets by asking each item if it “sparks joy” but what a lot of people fail to realize is that the KonMari method oftentimes causes people to become physically and emotionally sick. They cry, have nausea and sometimes even diarrhea. Letting go of things that no longer serve you can be extremely emotional and does not mean that you have made the wrong choice. It means that you are shedding the old and releasing your attachment to something that you no longer need. It is okay to be sad and it is okay to cry, just know that in order to make room for the new, you have to let go of the old.
Get Ready For What Comes Next
Once you are done with your spring cleaning you will feel different… guaranteed. You should feel lighter, more creative and may even sleep better… I should know because I am telling you from personal experience. I could go away for work or vacation and without fail, every time I got back home I would be greeted with an invisible energy that I could only describe as heavy and sad as soon as I walked in my door. But this is no longer the case. Now I walk into fresh energy, excited energy and creative energy. And because of that I have noticed other areas in my life shift too. The frustration with my work, the worries about my finances, the uneasiness about my love life have all either disappeared or shifted in noticeable ways. So get ready to go into your cleaning as one person and come out as someone else.
I encourage us all to take the extra time we have been given to spring clean our lives so we come out on the other side refreshed, renewed and ready for whatever comes our way.
P.S. Here are 25 Ideas to Help You Get Started on Spring Cleaning Your Life
- Fix all the random, little things around your house that are in need of repair and if you are unable to do so, hire someone to help you.
- Organize your Dropbox, GoogleDrive or other cloud storage files.
- Throw away, donate or sell all the items in your house you no longer need.
- Clear your medicine cabinet of all the medicines, ointments and OTC remedies that are expired.
- Apologize to those you have wronged and forgive those that have wronged you. If you are not comfortable communicating with people directly, write them a letter and then email it to yourself in the event that you choose to send it in the future.
- Unfollow or mute the people from your Instagram feed that annoy you or that you compare your life to in an unhealthy way.
- Get blackout curtains, a sound machine or any other items that will help you sleep better.
- Do an inventory of your online subscriptions and make sure you are actually using them and not just giving away free money on a monthly basis.
- Create a handful of healthy, weekly meal plans that you can refer to with foods you love. This will help you save money on takeout and help maintain your weight.
- Take stock of your credit card debt. Inquire as to whether you can you lower your interest rates or possibly move all of your balances to a no interest card.
- Downsize your daily toiletries to the basics and store or throw away items that you rarely use. No one needs four different body washes in the shower, NO ONE!
- Organize your junk drawer and make sure you have basic handyman items like a hammer, screwdrivers, a measuring tape, flashlight and batteries. You can probably throw away extra screws from the Ikea dresser you failed to properly put together and anything else that is of excess.
- Do the usual spring cleaning of your house, paying close attention to deep cleaning the windows, kitchen and bathroom. Then set yourself a weekly or biweekly schedule of when you will dust, wash clothes, clean the bathrooms, etc.
- Remove all the pictures from your phone that are taking up space. Delete them or store them in a secure cloud storage system.
- Do an inventory of the apps that are downloaded on your phone and delete the ones you no longer use. You can always add them back in the future if you need to.
- Update your resume and write a professional bio. You never know when you could be looking for work so it doesn’t hurt to have easy access to your work history and accomplishments if asked.
- Shift the energy in your home with a fresh coat of paint, new pillows and/or area rugs and some house plants.
- Clean out your inbox. The delete button is there for a reason! I delete most items from my inbox as I figure if it was important to me then I either replied so it’s in my sent items. Or I already dealt with it. Whatever way works for you, you probably have way more emails in your inbox than you need.
- Unsubscribe to all those e-mail mailing lists. Either ask to be completely removed from the lists or to have a decrease in the number of emails you receive from them.
- Finally commit to being more intentional about managing to your mental and physical health. Start to meditate daily and maybe take a Pilates class from your living room. There are plenty of apps and YouTube to help you get started and stay motivated.
- We all hate to think morbidly but if your life ended tomorrow, would your love ones know how to settle your estate? Do you need to update wills, power of attorneys or other legal items like your life insurance? This is a great time to get those items in order.
- Find and store safely your social security card, birth certificate, deeds to your home and other important documents.
- Create a signature playlist that makes you feel good, motivated and happy.
- Read the books you always say you are going to read and never do. Choose 12 books for the year, one a month and then dedicate a little less time to TV or the internet and a little more time to reading.
- Write down the new life you want to live now that you have cleared out the old and shifted your energy in a positive way.