Thursday, January 14, 2010

Feeling Blue? Try This!

A surprising way to gain new energy when you feel strapped for creativity, inspiration, and motivation is to clean up your surroundings.

It doesn't make sense, not at first glance.

I heard of the idea when my husband talked about David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. De-cluttering, cleaning up, organizing your work space, and tidying up your living quarters frees up mental energy and lightens your psychological load. The result? More energy for hatching new ideas, solving problems, and working more efficiently. It's especially helpful if you feel stuck or burned out. Somehow, changing your surroundings lets you begin again. Creating more physical space around you makes it easier to be productive.


That's all I said when my husband first mentioned the concept. I was skeptical. The last thing I wanted to do was to clean up more stuff when I was already weary. I dislike housework under the best circumstances. Fresh energy from cleaning? It seemed unlikely.

Dealing With a Winter Slump

Weeks later, in the deep slump of a cold and stormy winter, I remembered. Why don't you try it? Just a thought in my head.

But I was feeling bleak, sluggish, and overwhelmed by the challenge of motivating myself and my students. So I figured I had nothing to lose.

I picked one little corner of the room that day. One side table. I cleaned it off. I put each thing away and left a coaster and a little candle there in place of the piles of papers and books.

I promise you I am not making this up: the more I cleaned, the better I felt.

Small Goals Changed Everything

After this discovery, I set small goals each day to de-clutter and clean up. Just part of the room at the time. After a week, our school room was tidy and I felt much fresher, too. I became so motivated that I worked my way through the house that month, bit by bit. Before long, I was feeling cheery and enthusiastic. My house was tidy and I was mentally ready for the new year.

It sounds trite, doesn't it? I think that's why I resisted the idea at first. I just didn't see how something so external and humdrum could affect me that much. But it did.

One of our blogging friends at Rise Above Ordinary is recently posted about her plans to de-clutter her house this winter. She is challenging others to join her on Tuesdays, when she will post about her de-cluttering projects.

Are you de-cluttering your work area or living space this winter? How are you doing it?


  1. A resounding YES! I simply cannot function at top performance when I am drowning in clutter. In fact, I've got this problem so much, that I cannot even comfortably "breathe" and "relax" fully, completely, whenever I break away and take Mom time when there is clutter around me. Oh, sure, sometimes I must break away amidst the clutter or not at all, but it's not ideal. At all. I cannot sit down at a cluttered desk and expect to work with great focus. After awhile its psychological load makes me feel as if all the "stuff" is dangling from my person, and I've become the resident peddler with stuff attached, swinging and swaying with each movement I make. No one else in our family seems to suffer from this ailment. I dislike the cleaning process, but its results recharge my batteries. Indeed. I am not a neat freak, but my soul dwells best in the midst of order, and when I do not get it, I go stir crazy until we once again restore order. Fortunately, we de-cluttered a lot prior to the holidays, and then again last weekend.

    At the moment, located at the top of our steps and tucked (?ha - scattered) into the corner of the balcony is a pile of books left there since August. I look at it daily, think daily, "Maybe, maybe today I'll get to it." Never happens.

    But that moment is approaching rapidly. lol

  2. Funny you mention it, but that's exactly what I planned on doing upon arriving back home after being gone a couple of weeks. I told my hubby that I wanted to work through the house and organize and clean really well. I am doing things bit by bit, little by little. And I can't agree with you more - it does make a difference. When we got home, I was physically and emotionally worn out. I couldn't even begin to think about starting school yet and I even didn't want to cook! I thought of Lady Caroline in Enchanted April when she said she just wanted to sit and not talk....Of course, the not talking part wasn't me but I did just want to take it easy for a bit and rest and recoup. I also thought that if we're going to wait a couple of weeks before starting school, why not spend the time getting things in order. I knew I would feel much better and more organized for starting afresh with our school work. So yesterday, I worked in the kitchen and main areas some. Today, we'll work on giving the living room, dining room, and kitchen a good cleaning. In the days to come, we'll continue working through the house making sure everything is tidy.

  3. Good for you, Julie and Karen! Go for it!

  4. I can tell you it works! I work very hard at making space and keeping things enables me to use time in a more organized way! Moving six times in the past 12 years has helped though!!! Would that be considered cheating?? haha.
    God bless,

  5. I am for sure. It really keeps me somewhat motivated. I have depression, and some other issues. So, winter can be very hard for me. This is my first winter without medication. I am trying vitamns, prayer, and dietary cuts. It has been hard but so far this winter has been easier than the ones I had medicine on.

    Why? Because I have been doing just the above. Even when my body hurts sooooo bad and my mood is so low. I pray what to do. Sometimes it is clean a drawer, closet, or even just my recipe box. I quickly get a mood boost. But also I have learned to relax as well. If I need a treat, I get one. If I need to just read the bible or a magazine I do it. I schedule me in a rest time after homeschooling. My little ones are resting andmy oldest reads or watches sports while I take a 30 min nap.

    thanks for sharing

  6. I read somewhere that decluttering is like going on vacation. When you check into that hotel room it is refreshing because there is none of our clutter at home. Nightstands cleared, open space.

    I always feel much better when I clear the stack on my kitchen counter. But my most favorite thing to do is rearrange furniture each season.

    Good for you Cassandra! Small goals sometimes equal miracles.

  7. You have a great blog here. I like reading unique blogs like yours. I have a site myself which provides information on popular vacation destinations. I want my site to be a place where anyone from around the world can come and have that vacation spirit or "vacation feeling" as you can tell from my domain name.

    I'd like to exchange links with you to help spread some traffic around between each other. Please let me know if this is possible.


  8. HA! What great timing! My husband and I just made a plan that each Saturday, as a family we are going to clean one room of our house from TOP to BOTTOM until the whole house is decluttered (not very cluttered anyway as I like organization) and refreshed! Thanks for encouraging us further Cassandra!


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