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Reclaim Your Space: 4 Areas to Declutter in Life

The new year is about starting fresh, and what better way to do so than by eliminating the things that hold you back? Whether it’s at work or at home, start by examining these four areas in your life and discard anything that no longer serves you.

Your Space: Junk, Online and Offline

A messy desk or home is a major source of stress. Visually it’s distracting, and mentally it can be suffocating. This is true not only for physical but also digital junk – if you can never find your emails and files, it’s probably time to clean up your computer.

The key to decluttering is by starting small. Focus on one area at a time and commit to just 10 minutes a day, and try a decluttering challenge for extra motivation. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge, invented by Joshua Becker, author of The Minimalist Home, which encourages you to throw away 12 items, donate 12 items and return 12 items to their proper locations each day. For digital clutter, make it a habit to go through your documents, emails and apps once a week and delete anything that you don’t need by setting a calendar reminder. Having a hard time chucking something? Ask yourself, “Have I used it over the past year? Does it have any sentimental value?” Neither? Then into the bin it goes!

Your Mind: Limiting Thoughts
All those false beliefs about ourselves are mental junk that stop us from reaching our full potential, as motivational author Louise Hay once said, “If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you.”

Recognising your mental blocks is the first step to letting go of them. Narrative psychology tells us that we define ourselves not by facts but the stories we tell ourselves, according to Dr John Sharp, Harvard Medical School professor and author of The Insight Cure: Change Your Story, Transform Your Life. So take a journal and write down your story: how would you describe yourself? What are you incapable of? Next, question yourself why – for example, if you can’t take on a work challenge, is it because you’re afraid of failure? Often these bias stem from fear, an emotion that prompts the infamous fight-or-flight response. Switch on your logical brain instead and write down everything that’s wrong about these obstructive thoughts. Finally, rewrite your story with positive statements such as “I’m good at…” and “I can…”. Read them out loud and revisit them whenever your doubts creep up again.

Your Social Circle: Toxic Relationships
If interacting with someone always leaves you exhausted and stressed, chances are your relationship with them is toxic to your mental health.

Sometimes you can’t simply cut these toxic relationships out – they may be your colleagues or relatives, and contact is unavoidable. In this case, setting healthy boundaries is key, and there are three steps to it. First, reflect on the situations that make you feel uncomfortable or stressed so you know when to say no, a.k.a. identify your boundaries. Next, communicate your boundaries in a calm and clear manner, expect negative reactions from the other parties but don’t be afraid to stand firm for your wellbeing. Finally, enforce your boundaries consistently with action. For example, if a co-worker enjoys talking about personal topics that make you feel uncomfortable, let them know politely that you’d like to focus on the tasks at hand.

Your Body: Unhealthy Diets
You can’t do anything without a healthy body, and a big part of it is having a balanced, nutritious diet free of items that wreak havoc on our mood and energy levels in the long run.

Kill two birds with one stone by decluttering your kitchen and office pantry. How many times have you eaten too much chocolate just because it’s there? It’s really out of sight, out of mind, so toss all the unhealthy foods and drinks along with appliances and utensils that you never use. Another helpful strategy is by keeping a food journal so you have a clearer idea of what you’ve put in your body. Take advantage of apps such as See How You Eat Food Diary, which allows you to save photos and see your daily meals at a glance.

Inspired? Follow these tips to get organised and manage your time and work better!

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