I just finished reading The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo where she explains the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing your home – I highly recommend it! Kondo explains how you should go through all of your belongings and discard anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’ to declutter your home.

She believes going through this process will lead to a calm and motivated mindset in every aspect of your life – and who doesn’t like the thought of that!

“What parts of our lives are we shoving in our emotional closets until we get around to organizing them”

She recommends starting your decluttering adventure by tackling 5 main categories and discarding anything that doesn’t spark joy.  Her categories are clothes, books, papers, kimono (miscellany) and finally things with sentimental value.  This book was truly inspiring and has led me to throw away 6 bags of garbage and donate at least a car full of clothes on the first day i started reading.  And these were just my belongings! I haven’t even started to tackle my son or husbands items…

This book also got me thinking – what about using this same technique when it comes to your emotional belongings?  What parts of our lives are we holding on to ‘just in case’, what parts of our lives are we shoving in our emotional closets until we get around to organizing them.  What thoughts, feelings, or relationships are cluttering up our lives, making it hard to take stock of what is really important?

I thought we could break down our emotional belongings into 4 categories – work, family, relationships, and technology. Let’s begin!

Work.

I believe this category consist of examining your physical work space and what you do every day.  I don’t want you to think about your co-workers or other people you interact with – that falls into the relationship category. Purely look at if your work situation brings you joy. Do you wake up feeling happy about what you get to do everyday? Do you enjoy your commute to work? Do you enjoy your work space – your office in general and your specific desk/area? Do you walk out of work feeling like you accomplished something or learned something new?

“If any part of your work situation is not sparking joy in your life it is time for a change.”

Make your desk a sanctuary that leads to creative thinking and calm feelings. Find an inspiring podcast or peaceful music that turns your commute into a joy. Wake up 20 minutes earlier so you can get ready to face the world in a relaxed and enjoyable manner.

If any part of your work situation is not sparking joy in your life it is time for a change. Discard any part that is cluttering up your life – don’t like you desk, decorate it, don’t like you commute, change it, don’t like what you do, apply for a different job. Once you find something that brings you joy going to work everyday will be something you look forward to. Your emotional state with thank you!

Family.

This category includes your immediate, extended, and married family. These are the people you didn’t choose – your parents, and the ones you did – your husband or wife. Are you holding onto anything that is creating hardship with these relationships? Are you still mad that your sister always got better grades then you in high school? Are you still mad that your mom never came to your dance recitals?

“Understanding and identifying emotional clutter that come from family dynamics will help you find out which parts you want to let go of.”

Try and sort through all these feelings so when you are with your family you can focus on the joy these relationships bring into your life. Understanding and identifying emotional clutter that come from family dynamics will help you find out which parts you want to let go of.

Relationships.

This category covers anyone in your life that you have a relationship with that aren’t immediate family – co-workers, friends, your dentist, the gas station attendant that sees you buy that $6 bottle of wine every day…

“Take a look at every relationship in your life and identify that ones that spark joy – grow them and let them be your focus.”

Are you holding onto a friendship just because you’ve been friends for 10 years even if most interactions with them are stressful? Have you lost touch with a good friend over the years that you would like to become close to again? Take a look at every relationship in your life and identify that ones that spark joy – grow them and let them be your focus. Relationships that don’t spark joy – don’t feel bad for letting them go, or not take as much space in your life.

Technology.

This category includes your computers, cell phones, and any other devices you might interact with daily.  Take time to organize your computer files – throw anything you don’t need anymore! Clean up your desktop, organize your Dropbox!

“Its amazing emotionally liberating when all of your devices are clean, updated, and organized!”

For your phone – do you have a bunch of apps that you don’t even use cluttering up your phone? Do you have songs/videos/images that can be deleted? Its amazing emotionally liberating when all of your devices are clean, updated, and organized!

Tidying up your emotional clutter

Sarah Cottle

Experience Designer @ HomeAway

Category: Life Lesson
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