Living in New York City, space is at a premium. Most New Yorkers feel lucky if they have two closets. Two! For some, having even one seems like a luxury. While I certainly hear complaints from New Yorkers who wish they had more space, many get really good at editing their belongings to fit their homes and lives. Those of us without that skill store our things with nearby family and friends. However, traveling back and forth to pick up your possessions gets tiring, especially when you don’t own a car.
It isn’t just New Yorkers who lack space. I know people all over the country who feel they don’t have enough of it or simply don’t know how to clean out the space they have. Stashes and piles of stuff collect within their environments, and they get as overwhelmed by the piles themselves as by the unfinished obligations they represent. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter how much space you have: what matters is how you deal with it and the stuff in it.
As I think about exactly how I can create the life I want to lead, I realize that my physical surroundings are key. I’m exponentially more calm, productive and creative when working from a tidy space than one in disarray. Because of this, I have a tendency to tidy up the parts of my space that I can see, while neglecting the insides of drawers and closets. My office desk is orderly, while the drawers underneath lack any semblance of organization. While I’m sure the issue of neatness is different for everyone, I think that having clean spaces in your life could probably help most of us to function better.
Thanks to this realization, I’m taking tiny steps to get closer to the orderly, inspiring surroundings I dream of for myself. And I don’t just mean in the physical world. I’m taking steps digitally, too. My proudest accomplishment this week was deleting the hundreds (gasp!) of Facebook messages that had piled up in the six years since I joined. Reviewing the messages got a little messy as I dug years back, reminded of what my life was like at a different time. But I plodded through each one and methodically let go. This was a tiny step, and one that I’ll replicate over the coming weeks and months as I continue to clear out the lingering piles and forgotten crumbs of my life, slowly and steadily.
Here are some of the actions I’ll be completing as I work toward a tidier life. Take a look, and see which ones you might want to try. Which ones seem silly? Which ones scare you? Sometimes our reactions to little tasks like these teach us as much about ourselves as dealing with the “big decisions” in our lives.
Creating Space Action List
- Erase e-mail messages that I no longer need.
- Donate clothes that still fit me but that I no longer wear because I don’t like them.
- Get rid of all files that I’ve saved to my desktop by either deleting them or filing them. (I’m so guilty of this one.)
- Donate books that I enjoyed but that I’m simply not going to read again.
- Recycle magazines I’ve already read and save a chosen few for craft projects and vision boards.
- Whittle down the boxes of letters I keep from friends and family. Keep a special letter from each person, and throw away the rest. Or write a letter on the other side of that letter, telling that person how much it meant to me, and send it back to her or him.
- Back up my photos, music and files on an external hard drive.
- Throw out anything in my freezer that’s been there for over six months.
- Complete any actions in my Outlook calendar that I’ve put off.
- Return library books that I don’t have time to read.
What’s on your list?