We talk about the new year as if it’s some magical new beginning: a clean slate for us to rebuild all the things in our lives that we want to improve.
We all hope to make it our best year yet, and then what happens…
New Year’s Day we wake up with a headache, roll out of bed late, and have very little idea of what we’re donig. January comes and goes and this magical New Year ends up looking exactly like the Old Year.
If you really want to make the New Year “New” again, here are 3 super simple practices to declutter your phone, home, and inbox.
1. Take Only One Photo. Yes, Only 1.
Have you looked at your camera roll recently?
I have, and there’s a ton of images that are nearly identical. I’m not talking about that annoying burst mode that I somehow turn on. I’m talking about how I always snap two, or four, or ten photos of pretty much the same thing.
I mean, why not. This is the gift of going digital. Take as many pics as you like and delete them later, so the mantra goes.
It sounds good in theory but doesn’t seem to happen that way in practice. How often do you actually sit and delete the multiples, saving that one really good shot? (Rarely, or at least until your phone runs out of space and you’re scrambling to free up more memory.)
This year I am practicing a new approach—taking one really damn good photo and then calling it quits.
I will resist the “take as many as you want” mindset. Taking photo after photo with basicallly no adjustments in perspective or composition is not only senseless, it eschews responsibility for taking a good photo.
On the surface it says, “This first pic may not be good enough, so let me take another, (and another, and another.)”
This seems to convey a lack of trust in ourselves. It secretly says,
“I’m not a good enough photographer; I not capable of creating a shot worth keeping.”
Conversely, it keeps us in the fruitless pursuit of perfection. Can you ever really take “the best shot”? Is taking one more photo really going to help?
Probably not. But there is still anxiety about whether you are, in fact, taking a picture you will even look at again.
I may be reading into this too much, but if you have ever felt this way (or are simply tired of a camera roll that is filled with endless multiple) try a single shot approach.
Set your focus, compose your scene, and snap only once. Smile and see what develops.
2. Unsubscribe. Often.
Is your Inbox overloaded with non-essential stuff?
Yeah, tell me about it.
We live in an age where email addresses are form of currency. We exchange them for access to content, downloads, or registration to a site.
It’s a sneaky process. “Just give us your name and email to continue.” It seems so benign when you’re looking for information or trying to get stuff done.
But is it an exchange of equal value? I’m often not sure.
[To be fair, I now do this on my site and admit feeling conflicted about it. If you sign-up for my newsletter, you can always unsubscribe. I promise to never overwhelm your inbox with endless junk.]
I have signed up for dozens if not hundreds of newsletters and online retailers. Yes, at some point I was interested in your content, service or product. And yes, there are still plenty of newsletters that I read regularly.
Singing-up isn’t the issue. The challenge is letting go.
For every site that I both like and make time to read, there’s twice as many that I have no need for. Just becuase I bought a gift for my brother-in-law last Christmas, I don’t need to hear about your upcoming sale. I may have enjoyed your hints and tips before, but I’m over them now.
Unsubsribing is not about judging the site or content. It may be great, but just not relevant for you anymore.
Unsubsribing is about deciding what’s essential, what you actually read that brings you value. It forces you to figure out your priorities and discard all the rest.
If you see an email that you delete without opening, over and over again, unsubscribe. In fact, to really make the new year new again, make it a monthly practice to take yourself off all those mailing lists that only clutter your life.
I plan an unsubscribe day into my calendar at the end of the month. It saves my mind from an onslaught unimportant ideas and gives me more bandwidth for things that really matter.
3. If You Buy a New Piece of Clothing, Get Rid of an Old One — BOGO: Buy One, Give One.
I don’t shop for clothes often, and when I do, I’m pretty laser focused about the whole process. I know what I need and I get it. I’m not about browsing or trying on different outfits.
Nevertheless, I still have amassed a pile of t-shifts that stack floor to ceiling and tilt slightly like the leaning tower of Pisa.
“Where did they all come from?” I wonder.
They accumulated slowly overtime: some as gifts, some as swag, some as souveniers. Having no natural predator and a super long lifespan, they simply hung around.
What’s the solution to this t-shift surfeit?
Donating clothes is an incredibly useful and freeing process. Like unsubscribing from emails, getting rid of items that you don’t wear is an act of growth.
Freeing up shelf and closet space strengthens your capacity to let go of what’s no longer serving you, even if it were an item you once adored.
We must let go of who we are in order to become who we want to be. Clothes included.
To make the new year new again, ascribe to a BOGO model: Buy One. Give One. For every new item of clothes you buy or receive, give away or donate one that’s been collecting dust in your closet.
Consider it an act of kindness for the article of clothing. Your clothes simply want to be seen and worn, not ignored and sandwiched in a dark closet.
Perhaps Mari Kondo was right all along–by giving clothes away to someone who will use them, you are helping them fulfill their destiny. Let your clothes free.
I hope that these practies can help make the new year new again, truly.
~ Jeff Siegel
I’m Jeff Siegel, a wellness coach and mindfulness teacher, helping people upgrade their habits and improve their health. For free bi-monthly wisdom on how to eat, move, and be healthier, sign-up for my newsletter. If you’d like to explore working together, you can schedule a private 30-min consultation call with me.