Living a decluttered life – an experiment in Yes!

My boys and I have recently returned from spending two months living in Scotland. We were based in the remote Highlands and it was a complete contrast to our normal city living. Very quickly I adapted to the new way of life and fell in love with the silence, slowness and solitude.

What I began to realise is that the silence isn’t actually silent and I was rarely in complete solitude. The slowness was definitely slow!

The life I led in Scotland was a decluttered life and I loved it.

Typically we think of our belongings, our ‘stuff’, when we talk of decluttering but living a decluttered life is so much more than out belongings. I did have a reduced amount of belongings with me and I learned that I didn’t even need everything I took. I also realised that my time and energy was decluttered – there was space in my day that felt new and unfamiliar.

The decluttering of my time and energy has had a profound effect on how I intend to live life moving forwards. Here are some action steps I am taking so far:

  • Before I respond to any invitations or requests I first ask myself, “Is this a Yes to my time and energy?”. I notice how my gut responds and I trust it. If my gut says Yes then I say Yes. If my gut says No then I say No.
  • I am noticing the physical things I own and asking myself “Does this spark joy for me?”,. This is the key question in the KonMarie method which I used to significantly declutter my home a couple of years ago. A decluttered physical space definitely helps with a decluttered mind.
  • I am taking time to notice how I feel in my body after an activity. Today I didn’t think I had done very much – I’d been to the post office and to have a cup of tea with a friend – yet I was aware of a sensation I get in and around my head when my energy is depleting. The sensation is like a slowly increasing swarm of bees and now that I am aware of it I respond to even the smallest buzz in my space. My body is clever and it longs to be able to share these subtle messages with me – yours is too.
  • I am only scheduling one activity per day to the best of my ability. This doesn’t include the daily essentials such as brushing my teeth, walking my dog, washing up or food preparation. It might be hanging out with a friend, doing some filming with a TV company, taking one of my boys to something. This creates space in my schedule in which I can rest, create, be present with my boys, my animals, my husband. It also allows for spontaneity if I choose to spend my time and energy that way.
  • I am walking or cycling instead of using my car as much as possible. In order to make this possible I am making sure I have enough travel time when I put something in my diary.

The result of this, bearing in mind it has only been four days?

My weekend was full of flow. Saying No to the invitations that came in supported me to have unbroken time to continue unpacking, to be present in home while my boys visited their Dad, to enjoy my own space.

Yesterday, however, discomfort crept in. In the intentional space I’d created, allowing my time and energy to be more expansive, I felt out of sorts. ‘Shoulds’ turned up in my thoughts – I should be doing something, I should be making the most of my day, I should… Ugh! When I start shoulding on myself I know it’s sign that I’m resisting something that’s good for me. (To understand more about this dynamic you might like to read this post).

I sat with my discomfort and I allowed it to be. I was curious about it and I began to realise what it was about. There is so much value placed on ‘doing’ in our culture and very little value placed on ‘being’. Choosing to declutter the fabric of my life is a potential threat to my sense of belonging and being deemed worthy by others. Despite this, I am willing to take the risk.

As I move forwards exploring this decluttered living that I fell in love with in Scotland I anticipate making more changes – I’m yet to work out what my morning rhythm looks like and I haven’t yet decided how I want to invest in my physical fitness. I may also realise that some of the approaches I’m taking at this time aren’t actually right for me after all.

No matter how this unfolds I know that I am growing, healing and learning through it all. And that is most definitely a Yes for me.

“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.” ― Lin Yutang

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