Tidying Up Your Life

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantFirst, have you seen the new “Dear Megan” page? It’s my new work-related advice column that you’ll start seeing from time to time on this blog! If you have questions about a sticky situation at work, your career, or what the heck is going on in our organizations, I encourage you to submit them!

I know I’m late to the Marie Kondo party, but I’m finishing her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and am seeing so many parallels to our work, home, and social lives that I can hardly stand it!

Tidying up our stuff isn’t always easy, but it is relatively simple. We can see the clutter. We can move it. We can discard it.

But what about the clutter of our lives? What about all of those obligations we take on – the volunteer roles, the meetings with friends we don’t really vibe with anymore, or the tasks we tell ourselves we have to do?

If you could see each of those things as tangible objects, how much clutter would there be in your life?

Would your life look like a spacious, well-appointed room, a completely stuffed storage unit, or something in between?

I’ve talked to a number of people recently who have felt so incredibly busy this summer – busy with events, visitors, or weekend trips, and the way they describe what are supposed to be happy occasions sounds more like undergoing dental surgery against their will.

Why do we clutter up our lives so much?

I get that for some people, being constantly busy is energizing, but for many of us, we want to feel like we’re totally present in each thing we’re participating in. We want to feel like there’s time to stop and take notice, or time between things to avoid rushing. We want to feel like we’re spending our time wisely, on the things and people that help us become more of ourselves.

In her book, Kondo writes, “…we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”

Discarding what doesn’t bring you joy is the first part of Kondo’s process, but that’s only after you’ve taken stock of the things that “spark joy” within you.

flowers-desk-office-vintageLook at your calendar for next week. Is there anything on there that sparks joy for you? If so, hold on to it. Is there anything on the calendar that feels like a dirty old scarf you never wear, or mascara that’s three years old? If so, why are you insisting on holding on to those things?

I help people create worklives that they love, and that’s much harder to do when there’s significant “life clutter” clogging my clients’ view of where they want to go next.

Without giving yourself some spaciousness to sense and attend to what feels like the right next step, it’s hard to create a career that’s a deep reflection of who you really are.

So take stock today. See if you can separate out which activities spark joy and which feel tired and like they need to go in the “discard” pile. See if you can imagine tidying up your life.

If you want to learn more about this topic, I’m hosting a free 45-minute webinar called “Simplify to Clarify” on Tuesday, August 16th, at 10:00am PST. You can click here to learn more and reserve your spot!

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