22 March 2016

How To Have More Time – Guard Your Energy

DeclutterI had a great contribution to one of my recent blog articles “How to Simplify Your Busy Life” from Diane.

“One year I removed 1 item per day from my house and wrote it on the calendar. It was really amazing to do the actual writing down as it made you think ‘why had I kept it?’ After the year was finished I then did a kitchen upgrade and it was easy to remove items from my cupboards. I’d already cleared out most of the surplus items.”

I decided to try it myself, starting on my wardrobe. A large plastic storage bin is now on the floor of the wardrobe and every day one thing I haven’t used for ages and can live without goes in the bin. It’s wonderfully therapeutic, and only takes a minute. I haven’t set a completion point: I think it will be obvious.

This and other simple and seemingly low-level ‘neat freak’ techniques have an enormous ripple effect on the person who undertakes the challenge, especially if said person was previously a hoarder. It comes back to energy. If any form of natural flow is blocked, an alternative has to be found. We see it everywhere but let’s just take three areas – in offices, homes and in nature.

  • Big piles of paper are stacking up in an office? The occupant who procrastinates on filing will make another pile and divert their attention, their way of working and even (if the piles are huge) their pathway to their desk to accommodate the dead trees littering their space.
  • Bedroom drawers or cupboards are too full? The hoarder will get more drawers or shelving, thus aggravating the problem.
  • A tree falls down on a hiking track. If the next person along doesn’t have an axe or chainsaw they’ll quickly beat out an alternative route.

In each of these three examples, the workaround is not as convenient, but it seems quicker at the time.  To sort the paperwork, or go deliberately through the drawers, or cut away the fallen tree – all take more energy and time.

The seeming short cut is a false friend. Habits are seductive. The new piles, drawers or pathways become the norm – and then it’s harder to revert.

It comes back to energy: our feelings are our signpost. Notice how you feel when something breaks, isn’t working smoothly, or you experience an interruption of your natural flow.  There’s a momentary pause. We now have choice: to fix the situation as quickly as possible or to get used to the work-around. If we choose the latter option, every time we have to use it there is another small break in our energy flow. It seems almost infinitesimal – but the impact long-term is energy-draining.

However, if we sort the blockage swiftly we have the opposite energy experience.  Ask anyone how they feel after they’ve sorted clutter or an obstruction of any kind. Without exception they’ll say things like ‘lighter; energised; positive; fantastic; got more time.’


‘Time Management’ is really a misnomer: in truth it’s ‘Energy Management’.


A version of this article also appears in Robyn’s regular NZ Herald Online column


4 thoughts on “How To Have More Time – Guard Your Energy”

  1. Wow Robyn – glad that I have inspired someone to try something. I am doing a similar thing with my wardrobe this year. Just trying to limit the clothes. Mine are going to a second hand/upcycle shop so that is a cool solution.

    Also I have been doing it to my computer files. Every day I look into one directory and clean out or archive any documents that I do not need. Do you know how many useless lists I have kept over 20 years?

  2. Kim Buchanan says:

    Perfect advice. Yes it does block energy. I just got a new bigger linen cupboard built and discovered as I moved the stuff to its new home that I had accumulated SIX unmatched king sized flat sheets whose matching fitted sheet had died…Numerous pillowcases enough for hundreds of heads and several unused duvet covers. No winder it never fitted into my small linen cupboard before. Great to release these things (to SPCA for pet bedding). I am on a constant “purge”, but then I am an op shopper, so new retro treasure keeps coming in and now I am getting the craft bug (steampunk!) after years of being stapled to a computer with no creative craft outlet…so I guess I need to keep it going out so new fun stuff can come in!

  3. Fiona Taylor says:

    One item per day! How wonderful – that feels so do-able. Every drop in the bucket adds up. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Kim Buchanan says:

    I have a giveaway box on the go at all times, where all “giveaways” go. As soon as it is full it goes “away” to be given! Each time my daughter tidies her room she now knows she will need the giveaway box, the recycle box and the rubbish bag. It does not feel like a “waste” if it is being given on :-) and it helps the person who buys it and the op shop (organisation) needing the funds), which is a huge win/win/win or me. I am an avid treasure finder at op shops…but it must go OUT to let more in, hopefully less in and more out! I always recycle the good useable giveaways back to op shops.

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