My desk piles up as quickly as the bins at the post office. This is because of five kids at various stages of life and school and jobs, household responsibilities, things to read before throwing out, things to file, things to mail. Decluttering experts have a lot to say about preventing such piles. I’ve read lots of these books and articles. Little of it has helped me. Even today, my desk needs tackling, big time.
Many of us lead overly-stuffed lives. Even if you’ve gone officially “paperless” on your bills and personal calendar, you may be juggling more than can be handled on one countertop and your home and stress level may reflect that. Boxes, cleaning and decluttering techniques aren’t always the answer. Here are some things that you can concentrate on this season to make your life more clutter free;
7 Ways to Start Un-stuffing Your Life
1. Bless others. If you have things you no longer use, give them away. Go a little deeper and give away things that other people can use more than you. Get rid of things, philosophically heeding Philippians 2:3-4; “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Yes, you may be able to sell your old bike for $50, but you can give it away to a bike-less kid and bring joy to him or her for years.
You absolutely can’t lose when you give things to people who need or would be blessed by them!
2. Break habits that steal from you. A harmless activity can become a thief if it’s multiplied to become a habit in your life. I once added up the time and money I spent on coffee runs and rarely make them anymore. I’ve save a bundle of time and money. Leaving 15 minutes later for work (because you don’t make the stop) may declutter your morning, giving you time to sit down and enjoy breakfast. Set aside times to have the TV or computer off and use it as “instead” time, when you can do things that you never get to, but can do “instead.” You'll probably never miss having skipped the show or website, but you'll be delighted to take something off of your list of undone things.
3. Reorder relationships. Be very intentional about who you spend your time with and set boundaries for the amount of time spent with them. At one time I answered all phone calls. That was a long time ago. Now there are many ways to communicate, and they take less time than a phone call or visit to accomplish things.
Pray about who you should spend time with, and when. Examine every seeming obligation. Make time for neighbors because they are in your circle of influence. Don’t lose the opportunity to be Jesus in their lives. God will put people in our paths to minister to and encourage. Don’t let your favorite friends or social clique receive all of your time and attention. Not all people come to church, and may otherwise not have the chance to know about Jesus. Go to them. They may be just across the street.
All relationships have a season. Some come and go, some are lifelong. Jesus was very deliberate about with whom and when He spent His time. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Choosing friendships that are mutually edifying and Kingdom building is important.
You absolutely can’t be part of everything that calls your name!
5. Maximize opportunities. When you entertain, have two families over at once instead of one. Combine errands. Connect people who may benefit from a mutual introduction. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Paul understands the importance of intentionally maximizing our use of time and activities.
It’s so easy to let things entice or control us, or distract us until our time has ebbed away. Paul actually says to be careful, then, how you live. Choose what to take off of your proverbial plate and follow through. Then you will become much more productive with things that really matter.
6. Learn it’s ok to miss out. A person can’t possibly do everything that’s offered them to do, especially in an age of media and entertainment. Trends come and go much more quickly now than they once did. It’s fine to miss bandwagons. Even good things can be overdone. I recently attended so many Christian conferences and read so many books in a short period that I couldn’t process most of it. I learned great things, but forgot who said them! Choose your activities carefully and keep rest a priority. Nothing is fun when you are tired or overwhelmed. Do what one person should do, not what several people should do.
Prayer and worship clear and order our lives. It’s all just busyness if God isn’t behind it.
Jesus was acutely tuned into God’s business. In John 5:19, He says, "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” The enemy knows this, of course, and will distract you every way possible. Don’t fall for it!
As you remove unnecessary and draining things, relationships and activities from your schedule, there will be less to care for and maintain in your life. Sit down and figure out what’s really important to you, then start renovating your calendar and budget to reflect those priorities. Overly-stuffed living is exhausting and sometimes oppressive. When we refine and renovate, and refuse to be tossed to-and-fro by trends and other people’s whims, our lives become leaner and richer. Then we are brighter lights for His Kingdom, bringing Him glory.