The first step in ensuring a successful decluttering process is nothing to do with buying black bags or nice matching storage boxes. Before our first consultation and Tidying Lesson, before I even meet many clients face to face, I ask them to think about their vision.
What do we mean by vision?
Quite simply, you need to consider your goal. Why do you want to complete the discarding and tidying process? Is it to be free from the physical (and therefore mental) clutter occupying the corners of your home? Is it to gain more time because you currently seem to spend ages each day looking for things? Is it to gain a more spacious feeling in your home or workplace? Is it to make space for a new addition e.g. baby or pet?
These are all perfectly valid reasons to go through the KonMari process, and the vast majority of people who complete it are more than delighted that they have met these types of goals.
But we can take it further. One’s goal or vision doesn’t need to be limited to how the home or workplace will look post-tidy. Throw it wide open. How do you want your LIFE to look? This really isn’t the time to be cautious or to be pinned in by constraints. For this activity it’s ok to think outside of the box. You don’t have to show or share your goal with anyone (though of course if that helps to motivate you, you can). It’s yours alone.
Any tips to help me do this successfully?
- Before you sit and set your vision, turn to your favourite lifestyle magazines, Instagram, muses of choice etc. Scan your bookshelves and the bookmarks on your devices to understand what you enjoy and whether this is actually what you spend your time doing.
- Aim for a block of uninterrupted time –twenty to thirty minutes should be plenty.
- Be free from distractions in this time. Phone away and on ‘do not disturb’. TV off. Radio or playlist muted.
- Think carefully about where you want your life to be after the process. Remember – this isn’t just about how you want your home to look.
- Note down your thoughts / responses to the questions below. I personally find that handwritten responses can be more useful as they’re easier to reflect upon without being distracted by other apps and notifications. Plus the very act of writing is a little slower, so your thoughts have more time to develop while you’re putting pen to paper.
Questions to ask yourself when envisioning your future self and life:
- What do I like about my life right now?
- What do I want to change / adjust?
- What’s my favourite time of the day?
- What activities do I wish I could spend more time on?
- What activities do I want to minimise / remove from my life?
- What are my favourite places / people, and why?
- Which people do I not enjoy spending time with, and why?
- How do I feel about the way I earn an income?
- What would be my dream way to earn a living?
This isn’t an exhaustive list at all, but simply questions I’ve used in the past with clients (and with myself!) to really focus in on where they (and I) are heading.
Some questions might actually make you quite uncomfortable. You don’t have to answer them – just note how you’re feeling and move on to another one.
Why bother setting a vision?
Isn’t it a better and more efficient use of time just to crack on and start sorting one’s items? Possibly so, in terms of finishing more quickly, but it’s a little like the story of the Hare and the Tortoise. Simply put, more haste = less speed. To complete the joy-check process properly it’s vital to understand what sort of place you’re moving towards in your life. I’m not saying you should think for each item ‘is this something a lawyer would own?’ if you want to be a lawyer, but understanding your goals for life will subconsciously affect your focus and motivation when entering the decluttering and tidying phase.
My own vision
It was pretty in-depth. It’s actually written in beautiful pink biro in the front of my cope of ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. It’s a list of bullet points. I won’t bore you with it all, but I was very focused on feeling less rushed in life. I wanted to feel more time-rich so that I could enjoy life instead of feeling as though I was being pulled in all directions. In particular I wanted to be one of those people who could spend an evening taking a leisurely bath or reading a book for pleasure without feeling like I should be doing something necessary like paying bills or catching up with housework.
How successful have I been?
I’m quite happy with how my time is spent right now. I identified that for me, a good self-care routine was important for strong mental health, and in this regard I’m miles away from where I was when I started!
In the mornings we usually sit and have breakfast together which can be a really luxurious feeling, especially on a Monday morning. There are still the odd days where we find ourselves nibbling on a cereal bar as we whiz out of the door, shouting instructions at whoever’s left behind, but these are quite rare now.
I’d say 8.5/10.
- Diving straight in to discarding is tempting. Do not do this.
- Think about how you want your life to be – what would you keep and what would you bin?
- Don’t try to do this by discussing with family or friends – you’ll only end up with their ideals!
- I now have more time to eat breakfast and paint my toenails (latter only when the toddler is sleeping, obviously).