Environment Goals Managing Self

4 easy ways to make more space in your life

Written by Jill Farmer

You’d think with schedules, calendars and lives stockpiling such an abundance of tasks, events, meetings and expectations, we’d feel sated.

Instead, the cramming-in-of-it-all drains, demotivates and discourages the best of us.

So, I challenge you to pick at least one way this week to make more space in your life.

Room to breathe. To think. To create. To notice.

1) Start with your storage.

I’ve had more than one professional organizer give this tip and it’s been golden for me. When you get rid of unused or seldom used stuff that’s piling up on shelves in your basement, garage, storage closet, shelves or wherever you keep your stuff, you make room for things that you may want to keep, but are cluttering up your living space. I noticed I recently began running into clutter pretty much wherever I turned in my kitchen and bedroom  (piles of books, materials, knickknacks, equipment, etc.) So, I headed down the basement to my storage room. Sure enough, the shelves were overflowing with hastily stuffed boxes of craft materials, seasonal stuff, camping gear and a sundry of other things. My previously organized storage area was bloated and messy. I set my timer for 15 minutes, and started going through boxes. It took me about 4 different clean-out sessions (each 15 min., or less) before I had a huge giveaway pile, a garbage bag full of of trash and empty space back on the shelves.

2) E-mail folders.

Lots off my clients suffer from inbox overload.  For many, a daily barrage of messages leads to e-mail pile-up. I’ve had several folks with thousands of e-mails in their inbox. They were using their e-mails as the world most inefficient and distended task list and information storage. E-mail folders are one of the best ways to make space in your inbox. Even for the technologically challenged, it’s easy once you sit down and figure it out. I have folders for travel-related e-mails, invitations, client correspondence, time sensitive stuff, inspirational missives I want to keep, testimonials and more. When e-mails come in, my goal is to read them, delete them if possible, or put them in a folder if I want to keep them for future reference. I clean out the folders once a month. For more detailed e-mail management.

3) Barter it out.

Productivity and efficiency experts around the world agree one of the best ways to use your energy and intellect wisely is to offload the tasks that are outside of your interest and/or skill set. Lots of us spend tons of time and energy doing things we hate and are not good at doing. I have a hunch it has to do with some cultural ethos about being a maverick. That “I can do it myself” or “no one else can do this as well as me”  feels good to our egos, but it can leave us sick and tired. In addition to the mental hurdle, many of us just don’t want to pay other people for things we think we “should” be able to do ourselves. Do the math. If you someone else to do something you don’t like that is less than your hourly rate, you should do it. Period. You can hire people to do all kinds of unwanted tasks. If money is an issue, consider bartering with someone to get rid of unwanted things from your schedule. Some of my favorite examples? The woman who cooks meals for a friend  in trade for accounting/bookkeeping services. A guy I know (a huge techie) gave his neighbor kid his old iPad in trade for 2 months of lawn mowing. Get creative.

4) Clean out your magazines

I know this seems a little random.
This is one of the quickest ways to give yourself breathing room. If you’re someone with piles and piles of magazines lying around, chances are there’s more to the story. Magazines often represent a lot of shoulds or somedays. I’ve had more than one client admit that they haven’t read a magazine for a long time because they feel so guilty about the backlog of old issues and it just becomes more crappy evidence for “I suck” or “I’ll never get it together.” One client admitted her stacks of fashion magazines were being kept around for when she wasn’t so “fat and disgusting” and could wear cool clothes, again. Another held on to his woodworking mags in hopes that someday he’d stop working 80 hours a week and indulge in his hobby, again. That kind of baggage isn’t helpful. If you have a hard time getting rid of them, allow yourself to keep up to 6 issues. That’s all. Better yet, clip the article that you find inspiring or are likely to refer back to, and recycle the rest.

About the author

Jill Farmer

I love helping people get more meaningful work done in less time. I am the author of "There's Not Enough Time... and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves" which debuted as a bestseller in the Time Management Category on Amazon. In 2015, The Washington Post named me to its 21-Day Time Hacker team. I travel the world delivering keynotes and seminars for top corporations and organizations. I am also a wife and the mother of two teens and I have the two worst-behaved dogs in the universe. You can reach me at jill@jillfarmercoaching.com or visit my website JillFarmer.com.

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