When I think about decluttering, I usually think about my physical space and the objects that my space is filled with. When my physical space overwhelms my senses, I get the urge to clear as much as I can. Removing the excess clothing, books, and little knick-knacks that gather dust has always been relatively easy for me. Over the years, I managed to clear a lot of the unwanted and unused staff. So, when the first week of 2024 ended, I began wondering which items enhanced my life and which did not. However, the mental strain of this activity made me recognise that I was fixated on clearing the wrong space. After doing a bit of soul-searching, I concluded that my creative inner space needed decluttering much more than my flat.
On a daily basis, my creative inner space faces many uphill battles just to be able to create and find quiet time and the right head space to get the connection brewing. Of course, I’m the one who clutters my inner creative space with too much content, activities, tasks, and never-ending to-do lists.
Daily, my brain space is occupied by (not necessarily in that order):
- Projects I’m developing,
- Projects I’m working on (projects I’m developing and working on are separate entities); that would include: research, learning new skills, reading and expanding my knowledge,
- My health (exercising, yoga and cooking food I like eating),
- My family life and what the kids are doing or need to be doing or need help with,
- Plans for the future include booking holidays or deciding not to travel, purchasing decisions, investments, money management, etc.
- Content consumption in the form of social media (and I only have Instagram on my phone), videos, reading, podcasts, e-books and webinars (of course, I don’t consume all those types of content every day, but I do consume some bits of that daily),
When I grasped the amount of work my brain had been doing daily, I knew that my decluttering from within was a must. I can clearly see and feel how the inner clutter has affected my health, productivity and creativity. I feel clearer and more connected to my creativity when I have fewer tasks to do and when I focus on being rather than doing. Unfortunately, I’m not often present in my own life. It could be because my habits aren’t developed enough, or because I’m a workaholic, who doesn’t know when to stop even when my work isn’t productive, or because I want to go places I haven’t been able to get to yet, or because of my learning difficulties (I have dyslexia and dyspraxia), high levels of anxiety, stress and pressure. You get the gist.
For instance, I have so much less to think about if I don’t have to cook. Food prep works for some people but has never worked for me. I like cooking early in the morning to get it out of the way, and that frees up a substantial amount of my brain space. Banning content consumption liberates unbelievable amounts of brain space, and if I keep that up for a week or two, that invites some serious creativity and inspiration. Even though I know about the negative effects of content intake, it doesn’t mean I’m vigilant enough to avoid the traps I set for myself. I often don’t, and I crash.
Given that 2024 is all about radical self-care for me and changing my habits and patterns that don’t serve me no more, I decided that finding ways to declutter my inner creative space was going on my priority list for 2024. Otherwise, I will keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
It’s scary to change the known and familiar, and I experience a lot of resistance, which often manifests as procrastination, fear of making a decision and overcommitment. But I also know the other side will be so much better, filled with creativity, innovation and an unobstructed connection to my intuition.
So far, I have been pretty good to myself (if I compare myself to last year) and have been doing (not all every day, but some activities take only a few minutes of my time):
- Daily Yoga practice (I watch Yoga with Adrian and I love it),
- Meditation/journaling prompts,
- Daily exercise (I have been doing this for years),
- When I wake up, I try to spend some time thinking about myself, my life and where I would like to take my creative practice (at the moment of this writing, I landed on embracing myself and my creativity in my studio space, and this is what I try to imagine every morning before I get up and this is the space I go to when I’m looking for answers),
- I switch off from content consumption when I feel I’m getting too tired. I started introducing new Netflix shows into my life this year, after years of not doing that as it was too straining on my physical and mental health (the legacy of Long Covid), but that didn’t go down well, so I’m taking a break again, and not watching anything I have not seen before. Up to 20 minutes of content is still manageable.
- I try, but it is not easy; not to beat myself up when I don’t accomplish all of the tasks on my to-do lists, and I have to move them to the next day,
- I observe my habits and routines more than I used to and try to analyse what works and what doesn’t work for me at that moment in time,
- I allow myself more time to complete tasks, which means that I’m kinder to myself,
- I set myself realistic goals that take into consideration my current life circumstance; not something I’m very good at, but I’m definitely learning,
- I try not to use harsh words when I talk to myself about my project or an idea (I noticed that unkindness creates a void in me, which I tend to fill up by “doing something”),
- I’m learning to limit my endless need to re-write, re-do, or re-edit my work.
Of course, that list will change and evolve over the coming year. However, I need to be careful not to replace one mental clutter with another, regardless of how much I feel that it could be good for me. But if I can learn how to protect my creative inner space from my inner clutter proactively, I would be able to focus more and listen to my creative intuition from a happy place, which I believe would lead to better decisions, fewer regrets, more happiness and more rounded projects.
I’m #MadeByDyslexia – expect big thinking & small typos.