Welcome to the 30 Days to Less of a Hot Mess Challenge! We’re decluttering, reorganizing and taking a breath of fresh air to create a home we love. If this is your first time at the challenge, you may want to start here at the beginning. Affiliate links used for your convenience.
As we end our decluttering challenge, (can you even believe it?!) I want to talk about something a little more personal than physical clutter – and that’s the heart clutter.
You know what I mean, right? When the heart is just running on empty because it has so much mess going on. So many dings and pings and demands. Not enough soul-filling activity and too much just-because activity. The physical clutter doesn’t help either. It can be a lot to handle sometimes.
In a world that seems to be slightly on the crazy train and gunning full speed ahead, it can be challenging to not only declutter our physical space, but also our hearts. As much as I love a clean, decluttered space, I love a decluttered heart even more. They go hand in hand and reflect one another for sure!
The truth is that physical clutter (and disorganization) means mental and emotional clutter. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that can be stopped!
I’m sitting here as the chief offender in this arena because I have had a cluttered mind, cluttered emotions, cluttered home and cluttered schedule for years now. It’s just been in the past one to two years that I’ve started to dig deep and do the hard work of focusing on cleaning out the unsightly, too much stuff in my heart and in my home.
Let’s face it – baby years are just crazy. Part of my physical and emotional clutter problem was that I was just trying to keep my head above water. I was focused on making sure my kids were safe and fed and that I was taking a shower every 3 days. Gross, I know. But that’s the truth of it. And now that I’m coming out of the baby fog and into the elementary years, I’ve been able to have more time to devote to getting some of my heart back.
May I just say that if you’re in the middle of the baby, toddler or little kid season, just make yourself some coffee, sit back and enjoy the mess. It’ll be here for a while. I know I talk about cleaning up and organizing toys. And those systems are in place. But if you were to walk into my home at any given moment, there’s a 97% chance there will be toys all over the place. And as soon as you sweep the kitchen floor, someone will spill Cheerios all over it. It’s a rule somewhere, I think. Embrace the crazy. It is a season that will not last forever. ☺️
But even when my house is still a mess and it’s not perfect, I need to take time out to get my heart to a good place. And a lot of times when I do that, the clutter and the mess are easier to manage. Funny how that works!
So, let’s talk about the work of having a decluttered heart and mind. For me, that happens when I remove the distractions, simplify my daily to-dos and say yes to the things that matter most. Let’s look at the practical application of a decluttered heart.
5 Practical Tips for a Decluttered Heart
1. Back Away from the Social Media Crazy Train. Yep, I said it. If you’re reading this when I post this in February of 2017, you’ll know that social media, specifically Facebook, is at an all-time low. The people be trippin’. My hopes for Facebook is that it will come back to a wonderful, kind place for everyone, but until then I’ve adopted a little rule for my own heart and mind. Unfollow the Negative Nancies! You don’t have to actually delete them (or you can), but if you get a knot in your stomach when a certain person’s name pops up on your timeline, then unfollow, my friend! The negative talk will only give you anxiety. And for goodness sakes, do not engage with said Negative Nancy. That is only a recipe for disaster!
2. Set the Phone Down. I bought the very first iPhone when they came out. I love, love, love the freedom it gives me to work whenever and wherever and to stay connected to my people. But I also know that it can try to reprioritize what’s truly important to me. For example, is this phone call, text message or APP REMINDER really so important that it needs to disrupt my family’s dinner? I recently turned it all notifications, except for my important calendar alerts, and it has been blissful! I’m not constantly being bombarded with pinging and dinging on my phone. I also put it away during those special family times (always put it away during a meal) so that I won’t be tempted to even look at it.
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3. Make a Gratitude List. Nothing clears my heart and mind like sitting down and writing down all of the things I’m grateful for. I don’t mean making a mental list. Actually writing it down and then taping it up to see it. Try it! You’ll be amazed how your heart will shift in the process.
4. Schedule Some Quiet Time. I am preaching to the choir here, but this goes hand-in-hand with creating margin, which I talked about the other day. Creating margin is good, but what are you filling that margin with? Scrolling through Facebook? I’m trying to be more intentional about penciling in some quiet time. During that time I will journal, read my Bible, do some stretching or light yoga, listen to a motivating podcast or take a bath and read a good book. These soul-giving activities are what gives me life and allow me to pour into other people’s lives instead of just drowning in my own crazy mess. My goal these days is to go to bed early (for me that’s 11 pm), regardless of my to do list. Then I’l get up at 5:30 and have an hour before I have to wake up my daughter for school. This gives me an hour of uninterrupted time to quietly do something that feeds my soul. Sometimes I need to work during that time, but I try to get in at least 15 minutes of Quiet Time.
5. Serve Someone Else. I find that I am most cluttered in my heart and life when I think I’m the most important person in the world. I’m obsessed with my to-do list and trying to fit everything into my schedule. It’s so refreshing to look up from my planner and see what is going on in someone else’s world. It brings a new perspective to my heart and the unnecessary chatter just falls away. My husband is great at seeing the needs around him and is always wanting to give and help others. He leads the way for our family in meeting those needs. (My job is to manage the accounts so that our helping doesn’t put us on the streets. 😜) I personally like to send encouraging notes and texts to people to let them know that I’m thinking about them. It just reminds me what is important – people, not the calendar.
I feel like I’ve just breathed in new, fresh air just by writing all of that down. Ha! It’s amazing how slowing down, cutting out the noise and focusing on what matters most will clear away the craziness in your heart and mind. And then you’ll be able to return to managing the physical clutter, creating an action plan for it and organizing it!
I have loved this journey that we’ve taken over the past 30 days. Remember that it’s a journey and that perfection is not our goal! Our goal is to live purposeful, intentional lives with our priorities in order. Getting rid of the clutter helps us focus on what is truly important! It gives us our time back to spend on our community and people.
The Messy Work: Turn off your phone notifications and write a gratitude list. Tape the list up where you can see it for the next few days. And then pencil in some quiet time for yourself. It may be hard to find it, but it will be worth the effort, I promise!
In the mess with you, Laura