Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Culling

The past few weeks have found me feeling overwhelmed by, well, just about everything.

Even though I value spending time alone and being a homebody, I was swept up into the need to always fill the open slots in my schedule. I felt discouraged over being unable to accomplish everything I wanted to, continuing to do things I wanted to stop doing, prioritizing things in the wrong order, or being disorganized in my personal life and letting easy things get ahold of me. I don't have a hoarding tendency, and my collection of personal belongings errs on the small side. Yet still, lately I've felt overwhelmed by the amount of "stuff" in my life. 

And so, after months of continual low level anxiety about the overreaching aspects of life, I  knew I needed to eliminate the unneeded portions of my life, take care of what I've been granted to steward, refocus on what's of true value, and leave the rest up to God. I embarked on a culling, a purge of extra things in my life that were contributing to the clutter.

I cleaned out seven boxes of unwanted belonging from my apartment, everything from clothing and room decor to items under my bathroom sink, on my bookshelves, in my jewelry selection, and in my under-the-bed storage bins.

I deleted over 450 friends on Facebook that I hadn't talked to in years + friends' exes + friends of friends, muted and unfollowed people on Twitter and Instagram that I had no personal connections to nor attachment to their content, deleted unuseful bookmarked browser tabs, sorted the files on my desktop, cleared out my email subscriptions, organized my file folder, and narrowed down my tbr list based on what I was actually interested in reading and not what I'd felt compelled to pick up by book influencers online.

I completed all the unfinished tasks that had been weighing on me: responding to messages and notifications, taking out the huge stack of recycling that had been sitting in a corner for months, and moving old furniture out and new furniture in.

I turned off cellular data for Facebook and Twitter so I would be unable to scroll through them during the day at work, which gave me the added benefit of being able to read the news directly from news sources without having to hear everyone's opinions attached and reducing an untold amount of emotional strain and misinformation.

And now that I've cleared space -- physically, digitally, mentally -- I have room to re-prioritize.

As a creature of habit, I'm drawn to the idea of creating routines that allow for having margins in my life, the process of setting boundaries in daily life so that the focus can be on real priorities without the hurriedness of having too much to do. I first heard the biblical basis for creating margins from Val Woerner, the creator of the prayer journals I use, who explained that a life of margins looked like being "led by the Holy Spirit, [who is] free to roam about my day to lead me into heavenly-ordained appointments where God is glorified... where whispers from the Lord are heard clearly because all the noise and chatter no longer reign" (quoted from this blog post). 

With that idea in the back of my mind, I've spent (a lot of) time pouring over minimalist + intentional living blogs lately. While I've no intention of diving off the deep end of the slow living movement, it's been helpful to see how other people tackle the seemingly endless amounts of clutter in their lives and how they prioritize what's important to them.

For myself, I've determined the following:
  • I’m a morning person and I’m most productive in the morning. Waking up earlier and getting things done in the morning before work, rather than putting them off until the evening, would help me to not only be more productive overall, but also have more restful evenings and more free time to devote to needs as they come up.
  • I can get easily fixated on things and then move on before they’re completed. Writing down all my "bright, shiny ideas" and revisiting them a few times before committing time, money, and energy to them would save me from frustration and wasted effort.
  • I often let little inconvenient tasks pile up. Completing them in the moment as they come up or having a uniform place to mark them down would prevent me from getting overwhelmed by them and save me the mental energy of trying to continually remember everything I need to do.
These seem like relatively simple changes to make, and they are. I've had this post in my drafts folder for just over a week while I've experimented with each of the three ideas, and they were easy to incorporate but made a noticeable difference. I ended the week with a less cluttered and more organized apartment, more hours of sleep, more intentional time with friends, less money wasted on unneeded things, and less time on social media. I can't and shouldn't expect every week to go as well or that I'll stick to my goals as strictly, but they're a few starting steps in the right direction.

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