A new year is a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to let go of what doesn’t serve you and welcome in productive, restorative habits, rituals, and practices. If you approach January as a chance to hit reset and start anew, then decluttering may be top of mind as the new year begins.
When we say decluttering, we’re not just talking about cleaning out the hall closet or going through your child’s dresser and toy stash, though those are important tasks too. We’re talking about decluttering and organizing your entire life, streamlining the things that are causing you stress so you can enjoy more time doing the things you love and less time dealing with thankless tasks and to-dos.
Consider a capsule wardrobe or a uniform.
Is getting dressed one of the most time-consuming parts of your day? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options in your closet and end up feeling dissatisfied and uncomfortable by what you choose to wear when the clock is ticking, a uniform or a capsule wardrobe may make mornings easier.
You don’t have to get rid of everything you own, but consider stripping your closet down to just the things you feel really, really good in and cycling through them on a regular basis. Think versatile pieces that go with everything, like a great pair of jeans or trousers, a simple dress that can be worn with jackets and sweaters as well as on its own, some accessories to freshen up your looks and a few pairs of shoes that are comfortable and stylish. You may find that with fewer options, you’re more creative — not to mention more likely to wear the things you own instead of constantly shopping for new ones.
If you find yourself gravitating toward a certain silhouette or certain pieces, why not make that your uniform? Think like Steve Jobs and Ina Garten and stick to what you feel your best in. You can jazz things up with accessories if it starts to feel staid, but dressing in a uniform can help you feel more confident and reduce the “What do I wear?” stress in the AM.
Reduce your emotional labor and find balance in the everyday.
Running a household is hard. If you’re primarily responsible for making sure grocery lists are made, laundry is done, kids are shuttled to appointments and activities, pets are fed and the kitchen is clean, plus remembering birthdays and big events and managing your workload and personal relationships, you probably feel exhausted by the end of the day.
Emotional labor is how we process and manage our emotions when interacting with others to keep up that relationship, whether it’s with your kids, your spouse or partner or your coworkers. If you find that you’re repressing your emotions to keep things running “smoothly,” you may experience resentment and burnout later on, so it’s important to get a handle on it and make your way back to balance.
As you kick off 2023, consider what you could feasibly take off your plate to lighten the load of your emotional labor. Can you budget for a cleaning service to come a few times a month or hire a local high school or college student to help with the kids? Would scheduling a monthly dinner date with a friend lift your mood and make that relationship stronger? Whatever you can do to streamline the things that bring you added stress and impact your relationships with the people closest to you is worth it.
Simplify, simplify, simplify!
An important part of decluttering your life is, well, decluttering! Visual clutter can really impact our productivity and mood, so set aside a few minutes each day to pick up and put things away. Have the day off? Clean your desk, organize the refrigerator, go through toys or books or clean the bathroom cupboards and get rid of anything expired or past its prime. Doing one decluttering task per day or per week, whatever feels manageable for you, can help you identify where you may be getting stuck or tripped up and make your environment feel calmer.
Plan your weekly menu and save on dinner stress.
If the “What do you want for dinner?” conversation is an endless cycle in your home, leading to late meal times and less-than-healthy convenient options, get ahead of your week by implementing a dinner planning session every Sunday. Gather your family members (picky kids especially) and align on a menu you can all enjoy, then spend some time prepping any time-consuming ingredients so they’re ready and waiting when it’s time to turn on the oven or heat up the stove. Teach your children to chop veggies if they’re old enough to use a knife, or help you put together casseroles or salads. When kids are involved in meals, they feel more invested and are more likely to try new foods and ingredients.
Think fast, easy, and healthy.
When it comes to decluttering your life, strip it down to basics and don’t overcomplicate things. Think fast, easy, and healthy habits, like implementing a five-minute meditation practice before bed to help clear your mind for the next day, sneaking in movement whenever you have a few minutes to spare, going for a walk to clear your head when you’re overwhelmed, and taking the time to check in with yourself to see what’s working and what’s not, then making the necessary tweaks so things function better in the future.
Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, and that implementing small habits one at a time can add up to big improvements. Identifying where you are and where you’d like to be is the first step in a calmer, clutter-free life, whatever that may mean for you, so be realistic about your progress and know that you’ve got the power within you.