Is it time to declutter your time?

Yes, you read that right. The way you spend your time gets cluttered just like your hall closet gets filled up with junk. Or your garage goes from neat to chaotic. In other words, it’s a gradual process. You can declutter your time in the same way as decluttering a room. You immediately feel better. With the added bonus that a little space goes a long way.

Start with your phone.

What apps do you find yourself on when you are waiting in line, bored at the dentist’s office or avoiding doing something more productive? Social media, news, dating, games? What you think of as a healthy distraction when you are bored is creating a habit of filling up your time which in turn means you have less of it. I challenge you to delete your top distraction app and see how much time you gain back in your day.

Give yourself 5-10 minutes of intentional free time. 

Yes, remember “free time” from your elementary school days? Think of it like that, time when you can do nothing, play, or do whatever you like. The point is that you make a habit of giving yourself free time. I learned about taking free time from a client who made this commitment each week and it inspired me to do the same. Most of us are already in the habit of filling up our time but not filling it up is a habit too. It’s also interesting to note how much resistance you have to not doing. Is it easy for you to carve out free time for yourself or does it feel indulgent or selfish? Do you feel like you should be doing something productive or are you okay with taking a few minutes to sit quietly? The surprising thing I’ve noticed from taking a just a few minutes of free time a week is that I feel noticeably less pressure, stress, and overwhelm. Which in turn means I’m more present and efficient with my time.

Allocate time for transitions.

I learned the importance of transitions years ago from my son’s preschool teacher. In my hurried working Mom mode I was oblivious to why my son insisted on bringing toys from home to school. Especially when I repeatedly told him they were not allowed. One day the teacher overheard me telling my son I would have to take the toy with me. She swooped in and stopped me in my tracks. She told me that it was not a toy, it was a transitional object, and it made the switch from home to school more comfortable for my son.

I never considered that a transition from one space or activity to another required any intention let alone comfort. But then I realized that I often picked up my son and was completely distracted by things going on at work. And I often showed up at work completely distracted by things going on at home. My son was smart to bring a toy while I was busy carrying around my thoughts and worries! I was in the habit of being preoccupied because I didn’t realize it was a choice. I learned to give myself the ride from home to work and vice versa as a time to transition. Later when I started working from home and I no longer had the commute, I learned to make an end of day list to help me close off my time in one space and allow me to make the transition into the next.

One of my favorite tricks

One of my favorite tricks for transitions is to sit in your car for a minute or two and take an intentional breath to bring me back into presence. Especially before you go into a new situation. All it takes is a deep breath or two to give you a chance to come into your body. This is totally counterintuitive when you are running late or feeling stressed but it gives you just the sense of spaciousness you need. Plus, it takes a negligible amount of time and has the pleasant side effect of making you a much nicer person to be around. Break it into a tiny habit. Before I get out of my car, I will take one deep breath. Then smile to affirm to positive feeling you get from doing one small thing to bring yourself into presence. 

Keep it simple

As you can see to declutter your time is pretty simple. Don’t fill up every second – because then it becomes a habit to fill up every second. Do the opposite and make a habit of giving yourself free time. No matter how indulgent that might feel you deserve it and the side bonus is everyone also gets a better, less stressed version of you too. And lastly, be mindful of how you move through time and space. Give yourself a moment to acclimate and become present before you dive into the next thing. And just like that you’ve decluttered your time.