When we think of decluttering, we typically think of physical things and reclaiming the spaces in our homes to create a greater sense of calm and order. But it’s also possible to declutter our lives; to reclaim our time and remove from our schedule those things which aren’t serving us anymore.
This can be hard to do. We have long-standing commitments in our diaries, we go to the same places and see the same people we’ve always seen, and our habits are deeply ingrained.
Or at least that used to be true.
The last year has turned everything on its head. The COVID lockdown measures have forced many unwelcome changes in our lives – our movement has been restricted, we’ve been isolated from friends and family and unable to do many of the things we love.
But as we emerge from our third COVID lockdown, how can we make use of what has changed over the last year to take stock of how we want to spend our time? How can we declutter what we don’t need and bring in new ways of spending time which make us happier?
Here are a few ideas and questions to ask ourselves over the coming months.
Lockdown and the Rule of Six has meant our social lives have been dramatically transformed over the last year. We’re not meeting up with friends, going out for dinner or drinks, or taking group holidays.
As we’re gradually allowed to do these things again, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the last year and decide what you want to prioritise.
Have you enjoyed spending more time at home with those closest to you? Has it been a relief not to try to have a conversation in a loud restaurant or bar? Have you kept in touch virtually with a smaller group of close friends, and not missed others as much as you expected to?
Think about what this means for how you could rebuild your social life post-lockdown.
Activities and commitments
Whether it’s a group exercise class, a book club or being involved in a local community group, over the last year we’ve all spent less time on commitments outside of the home. We can’t go to group classes and activities, so we’ve become more home-based. Perhaps you’ve taken up gardening or started sewing your own clothes. Maybe you’ve connected with like-minded people virtually in a way you haven’t before.
When we’re forced to stop commitments, it can be an opportunity to reflect and take stock.
Did you feel ‘off the hook’ of saying yes to everything? Have you been happier with fewer commitments in your diary?
What activities are you raring to get back to? Focus on bringing those back in to your life first.
For many, 23 March 2021 marked one year of working from home.
If that was you, how have you spent the time you used to spend commuting? Maybe you’ve cultivated an exercise habit, perhaps you’re reading more, or are able to spend more quality time with your children. Or, conversely, maybe you’ve realised that your commute was vital decompressing time between work and home and you’ve missed that clear boundary.
How will your job change as lockdown eases? Are you being given the option to work from home more, or perhaps even permanently? Would that be a positive or negative thing for you?
We don’t always have control over how and where we work but thinking these things through in advance will put you in the best possible position if an opportunity arises.
Remember last spring, when supermarkets were under huge pressure and you couldn’t get a delivery slot for love nor money? Now, online shopping and food deliveries are the norm. We aren’t spending our Saturdays at the local retail park or town centre, or in the supermarket aisles, and we’re doing a huge proportion of our shopping online.
Of course, this isn’t simply a time saver: researching purchases online takes time and returning items if they’re not suitable can often mean time spent queuing at the post office.
How have you found it? Has online food shopping been easier than you expected? Have you found it frustrating or liberating to shop for clothes online?
Our shopping habits can feel like a small part of our lives, but they can have a significant impact on how we spend our time day-to-day. Take a few moments to think intentionally about how you’ll shop as retail re-opens.
Our lives have changed dramatically over the last year. We can create something positive out of it by thinking through how we want to spend our time as lockdown eases.
We don’t have to resume old ways of doing things just because that’s what we used to do. We can, instead, seize the opportunity to reclaim our time and use what we’ve learned over the last year to create a happier and more fulfilled life.