Here is a story. You may wonder, what does this have to do with my time? Everything.
I remember my grandmother’s kitchen on a small farm in Iowa. I’m a young girl, sitting at the table, waiting for pancakes and bacon. The linoleum top feels smooth with a faded patina from years of daily wipe down, warmed by the sun coming in the window overlooking her garden. Her table features the same dishes, napkin basket and toothpick holder she had every time we visited for my whole childhood. The kitchen is small but immaculate. There is a radio on low with the ever-present farm report.
My grandmother was a busy woman. She raised 9 kids to adulthood in a small house that didn’t have an indoor bathroom until the 50’s. Her chickens and garden were not hobbies. She had a Sears catalog in the living room; I’m sure there were times when she wanted more things.
The point is that her environment supported her productivity. Her possessions were few and so they had to serve her, not the other way around.
Later, in the 1980’s I visited an old farm house that had been “redone”. Every room had a different color scheme, window coverings and acrylic woven themed blankets from Walmart, silk flower arrangements made in China, kitchen chock full of enough new farm-theme dishware to stock a restaurant, every corner stuffed with antiques like old milk cans, vintage kids furniture, creepy dolls, and walls hung with cutesy country sayings.
It was awful.
My grandmother would not have known even where to put her sensible (one and only) handbag down in a house like that. ( I once received an email with a blog post from a prominent financial advice for women website, the post was titled "10 Handbags Every Woman Should Own". W.T.F? 10? I hit "unsubscribe" immediately.)
So this is why it matters.
Your dreams take time and focus to materialize. If you you decide to really go for it with your business, it will take massive amounts of time and energy. You already know this, right?
You’ve got a lot of stuff.
I feel you. I have been there.
If you don’t clear the decks before you start, there is a VERY real risk of failure. Not because your idea isn’t amazing, but because your surroundings don’t support you. In fact, they may undermine you.
I have a hard time with that.
What, we don’t get to see your creative amazing idea come to life because you have a house full of stuff? Your incredible inspiration and talents ride in the trunk while your possessions ride up front in your life, with FIRST claim on your time and energy?
Maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe I'm right and it doesn’t bother you. Maybe it doesn’t feel heavy. Great! This post isn’t for you. If you are able to focus beautifully in the middle of a bunch of stuff, go for it. I’ve heard that some people can.
But if this is you:
“I don’t have time.”
“There aren’t enough hours in the day. “
“Where does the time go?”
I know where.
I bet 50% of your to-do list is tied to your stuff.
Its locked up in all the excess crap you own. In fact, time is held hostage in your future purchases, too. Locked up in your plans to buy more.
An object doesn’t have to be alive to have a claim on you. We have a care-taking relationship with every-thing we own.
Guess what else? This is a gender issue.
Who buys 80% of the stuff? The lady of the house.
Yes, I know that traditionally men have been responsible for tidying up the garage. Who nags to get that done? Women.
Do you have teenagers or older kids off at college, or even adult kids with their own jobs and apartments, yet their room, in your house, is (still) full of stuff? Who feels ultimately responsible for all that? I bet its not your kids.
The number one most powerful way to free up time is to purge as much as you can, and don't replace.
I know this.
Two years ago I had a house full of stuff, a garage full of stuff, a closet full of stuff. Even the refrigerator was over-served.
I have never liked clutter; my family thinks I’m extreme in this regard. I think the rest of the world is extreme in its passion for clutter over clear space. My earliest visual imprinting was of flat fields and open spaces, maybe that’s why I can't relax in a cluttered room.
However, over time, things stick to us. One day I turned the finger pointing at everyone else's treasures around on myself and said, you know, a bunch of this sh*t is mine.
How about I take responsibility for my tchotchke overage? So I began a process of downsizing.
As time went on, I had the opportunity to radically downsize my footprint - donate or sell everything that did not fit in my CRV and give up my lease - to clear as much distraction as I could from my life, so I could actually see what mattered enough to add back in.
My solution was a bit extreme I suppose. You don’t have to sell all you own and drive off into the sunset. And shred your comfort zone with 6 months of solo travel in the US and Latin America. Although I highly recommend it.
But if you want to more time for you in your life, here is How Downsizing Gives You Time Back:
(Not to mention money. You are smart women so I don’t have to point out the ways money is related to the following.)
You will get back approx 80% of the time you currently spend on:
You can spend more time on whatever you want. You know, all those things you now try to get to after you tidy up, but usually end up taking a nap instead:
Tidying up is not magic. Get rid of your sh*t.
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