Life is messy and life is busy! There is no way to make the whirlwind stop so what can we do? When things are getting out of control, it is time to hit a mental pause button, take a deep breath, and declutter.

Begin by making a tea or coffee and gather some paper and a pen. Find a comfortable spot and give yourself a moment to clear your head. Think about what is making your life feel so chaotic. For me, it usually is either my surroundings are out of sorts or it is that my schedule is overwhelming or maybe both. No matter what the exact cause of this out-of-control feeling, begin by writing down all the things that are causing you to experience stress.

This process, as simple as it sounds, is very effective. It is amazing how 20 minutes of quiet thinking or planning can calm your life down and help you to feel like you are back in the driver’s seat instead of being driven. The objective is to remove all the clutter, the stress, in your head and put it on paper. This mental unloading declutters your head, your mind, and your thoughts. And instead of these thoughts churning around in your mind, you can look at them visually on paper.

Now that the clutter in your mind is removed, you can take the next step, which is to remove the clutter in your living space.

This does not mean doing an intensive reorganization of every area in your home. This is a general declutter, so you have a place that is calming and relaxing. Even the most organized homes need to be picked up regularly. We may have a special place for all our things, but as we rush through a day, items get tucked here and there. Eventually, we have stuff all over the place and it may feel a little stressful. It is time to put everything back in its original place. When our possessions are messy, our lives can also begin to feel cluttered, but if our environments are orderly, then we feel more in control.

The task of picking up can be tedious and mentally draining so I race against the clock to finish this as quickly as possible. I go from room to room, picking up and putting everything where it belongs. I don’t allow myself to linger and ponder over items. Just put them back where they go. If you don’t know where something goes, then you will need to designate a space for that item. Once this step is done, you will begin to feel better already, but don’t stop yet.

We have emptied our minds, picked up our living space, and now we need to take charge of our schedules. For this step, gather all the items that you use to organize your tasks, appointments, and schedule. If you have more than one calendar, such as on your phone, in your planner, or maybe a physical calendar on the refrigerator, update them and make sure they all contain all your commitments. It is a good idea to have one day a week to keep your calendars updated so you do not miss an appointment or event.

Our schedules can become just as cluttered as our minds and our living spaces. The clutter is harder to spot when it involves our time and things we want to do. Too many tasks, appointments, or lunch dates in our schedule can be mentally draining, even if you like doing all of them. Look at your commitments and your schedule. Ask yourself if you are spending your time according to your values. Is your schedule a reflection of your priorities? Is there anything you can eliminate? Do you need to rearrange, cancel, or add activities?

Decluttering your calendar might mean letting go of a few things you really enjoy, but then you are free to add things you like even better. For example, you may enjoy having lunch dates with friends, but then not have time to go to the gym. Staying healthy may be one of your values and a priority for you. If you do not have time for the gym, you will feel stressed and possibly, not know why. Simplify your calendar as much as you can. You will be able to breathe a little easier.

Phew!! All done. Your mind is clear. Your living space is picked up. Your calendar has been simplified. Enjoy being back in the driver’s seat. Take a moment to relax!

Now for the last step. (I know you thought you were done, but if we do not do this last step, the clutter might reappear!)

Remember the first step of decluttering your mind? Now is the time to look at what you wrote on your paper. With a clear head, it is now possible to tackle these items. Maybe they are things you need to do, phone calls you need to make, or issues you need to address.

If any item you listed can be done immediately, then do it right now. The rest will need a place on your calendar. Find a time slot in your schedule and write down what you need to do. Eliminate anything that you can let go.

NOW you are done! You are back in the driver’s seat of your life. You get to choose what will fill up your mind, your space, and your time. As each new activity, item, or demand comes your way, think carefully if you want to let it in.

Life is messy and life is busy. You most likely will lose control again, as we all do. That’s okay. We just have to declutter every once in awhile!

Featured photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash.