Be a Better You in 365 Days Challenge – DAY 12 : Declutter Your Zen!

This is Day 12 of How to Be a Better Person in 365 Days (365 Challenge) October 2011 Challenge. View list of tasks: 365 Challenge Overview

Welcome to Day 12 of 365 Days of How to Become a Better Person in 365 Days Challenge (365 Challenge)!

If you here… Scream YEAH!!!  With the start of Day 12 and for the next 353 days, we’ll get working on small, independent tasks which contribute to living a better life. Each day’s task will usher in its positive change, and this change will build on itself for the days ahead. All these tasks embody their own principles, important in bringing awareness and triggering action. By the end of the month/year, we’ll find a renewed us, one that’s more aware, more conscious, and living a better life than before.

In fact, many of you already felt that way a few days into the challenge, which is great! The days ahead will further build on that to create a better, newer, clearer you. If you have not completed the earlier tasks; it’s okay – The tasks are not dependent on each other. Just do these upcoming tasks as you work on the previous ones bit by bit. Doing and experiencing this together brings this to a new level of fun. Even if you’re not able to do one day’s task, you can still do the next days. There’s no need to wait till you finish one before you can do the next.

Day 11 – Day of Virtues: Kindness Review

Day 11’s task was on kindness – embodying the virtue of kindness, and being that beacon of light and love to everyone you see.

How was your experience on Day 11? Many of you have posted amazing acts of kindness and shared beautiful experiences of how you touched others’ lives in your special way yesterday. If you haven’t, be sure to post your results.

Know that no matter how small or big the act is, no matter how your kindness was received, your intention has planted a seed in the person’s heart. This seed will soon bloom into something beautiful, which only time can unveil.

Are you pushing yourself to the next level?

While I was reading the comments for Day 11 – ARK (A Random Act of Kindness), I noticed some participants used the acts of kindness they did on Days 1-3 as answer for their Day 4 assignment.

While it’s great that many of you are already doing acts of kindness by default, the whole point of 365 Challenge is to push your boundaries to the next level.

Which means, rather than saying: “Oh, I already did some kind acts yesterday/today, hence my work for Day 4 is complete”, challenge yourself with: ”In addition to the kind acts I already did/are doing, what more kind acts can I perform to others? How can I be an even kinder person? How can I push my kindness to the next level?”

In the former, you remain the same person as you are; in the latter, you grow and become better. Only by constantly challenging your limits will you become the better you, the ideal you that you seek.

Day 12 – Declutter Your Zen!

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” –William Morris

Believe it or not, your environment has a considerable impact on you – your state, your level of productivity, your frame of thought, and more. As Arina wrote before:

Your environment and you have an interlinked inside-out, outside-in relationship. Inside-out, meaning who you are as a person manifests itself in how your room/home looks like. Outside-in, because how your room/home looks like affects the way you think and feel. Both reinforce each other. Change one thing, and the other will change as a result. (excerpt from Declutter Your Home in 8 Steps article)

With a clean, tidy and organized environment, you feel clean, tidy and organized too, which leads to increased output. However, when you have an untidy space that has clutter, it makes you feel tired, heavy and cluttered. This is why some people seem to feel tired so often, because their space is not conducive for their work. Your space/environment doesn’t just refer to your physical workspace. It includes your browser, email inbox, computer, mobile phone, desk, room, wardrobe and other rooms in your house.

Everything is made up of energy. When we keep old stuff, we are keeping old energy. It has a stagnating effect in your space. Imagine a drainage system. If there are things clogging up the filter, things are going to get stuck. Even though new things want to flow into your life, they can’t because there’s a bottle neck. Hence, clearing clutter has more than just physical, aesthetic benefits – it’s also clarifying for your emotional, mental and spiritual wellness. I know whenever I clear clutter in my room/computer, it brings in new clarity and ideas.

Hence, today is going to be declutter day. We’re going to sweep out and clear the trash that’s been cluttering / clogging up our space, so that new, better things can enter our life.

Your Task: Declutter Your Space

Your task is to declutter as much as you can today in your space. With everything you come across, ask yourself “Is this essential? Do I need this?” If not, throw it away. If yes, file it away properly. Below are some places to start:

  1. Browser. Are there links you keep but don’t visit? Feeds that you don’t read? (Remember the 80/20 rule – Most likely you only use 20% of your bookmarks 80% of the time) Delete bookmarks you don’t visit. Organize the bookmarks so it’s easy to access them.
  2. Email. Is your inbox clean or cluttered with emails? Clear out the emails. Reply to emails you’ve been holding off on. Unsubscribe from newsletters that you don’t ever read. Clear out junk contacts. For your emails, organize them with folders and labels so it’s easy to find them. If you already use folders (or labels in Gmail), assess if this organization system has been helping you. Improvise on it. See if you can organize your current mails better.  you regularly contact, file them into your address book so it’s easy to reach them. If you use more than 1 email account, ask yourself if each account serves a unique function. If not, how about synchronizing everything to 1 account and delete the rest?
  3. Computer. Clear out documents you haven’t been using. Organize your files and folder. Declutter the items on your desktop. Defrag your computer. Empty your recycle bin. Uninstall applications you barely ever use.
  4. Social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Stumble Upon, etc). For Facebook, reply to pending messages. Clear your wall of spam adverts/application messages. Remove yourself from irrelevant event invites. block users/applications where you get spam messages. For Delicious, tidy up your bookmarks. For other social media accounts, synchronize them to one userid/password (Openid lets you do that; Deli/Yahoo Buzz/Mixx can be accessed via 1 yahoo account).
  5. Mobile phone. Clear out unimportant messages in your inbox/sent folders. Uninstall applications you don’t use. Tidy up your bookmarks. Delete audio/image files you have no use for anymore.
  6. Desk. Clear away any trash. Remove files you don’t use anymore. Clean your table top. Organize your items better. If there are things that you might use but don’t have an immediate need now, store them in the drawer or cupboard.
  7. Room. See below.
  8. Wardrobe. Get rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore. Get rid of clothes that you bought long ago and no longer resonate with your self.  Donate them to the salvation army.
  9. Other rooms in your house. Declutter your living room, kitchen, bathroom, one step at a time. Throw out the things you rarely use. Keep the essential. Organize them properly.

Decluttering Tips for Physical Space

  1. Start with a small area. Start off with a manageable spot, such as your table. Then go from there.
  2. Remove outdated stuff. Are you still keeping old textbooks/books/documents It’s good to keep one or two as memorabilia, but most of us overdo and end up keeping a huge chunk of stuff. Not only do they not serve a purpose, they also take up good space. Throw away old calendars, newspapers, books, toys, etc (better yet, give them away to someone who might need them)
  3. Remove if you’re not going to need it. Many of us tend to keep things thinking that we’ll need them in the future – but most of the time we don’t ever need the items. Ask yourself ‘Am I going to need this in the foreseeable future?’ If the answer is no, you can probably throw it away. A lot of clutter comes from keeping things that you think you’ll use, but never do in the end.
  4. Don’t keep for the sake of keeping.
    • If you’re keeping a lot of things from the past, a question to ask yourself is whether you’re refusing to let go of certain things from your past. Memories from the past will always remain with us in our heart – you don’t need a pile of physical items to remind you of them.
    • In one of my earlier decluttering sessions, I threw away my high school materials which I had kept for a while. I realized while I kept saying I would refer to them for memory’s sake, I never did so in the near 10 years of keeping them. It was then I realized that these were in my heart, and I didn’t need the physical items to remind me of them. I was keeping for the sake of keeping, which might have been preventing new things from entering my life. And when I finally threw them away, I felt a subconscious part of me who was holding on to the past self finally coming free. Rather than hang on to the past, I was free to become who I wanted to be. It was emotionally liberating.
  5. Relish in the clearing process. As you clear your clutter, you’ll find that you feel lighter and fresher, clearer and calmer. If you face resistance with clearing something, ask yourself why, and address that feeling. Ask yourself what you’re holding on to by keeping this. Ask yourself what you’re preventing to let in your life when you keep this. Then check if you’re willing to start letting this go. Be present in the moment and experience the feelings that come in.
  6. Clean out the space. After you are done decluttering, take the time to clean the space before you. Relish in the new energy and new space you just created. Congratulations, this is the start to new things entering your life :D.

As you clear your clutter, you’ll find that you feel lighter and fresher, clearer and calmer. Relish in the new energy and new space you just created.