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Has it ever happened to you that a film suddenly gives you a lightbulb moment, and you associate that film you’re watching just to relax with a totally different subject going on in your life? Well, that happened to me while watching Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show! It’s all about decluttering your home, but somehow it reminded me of the book I’m reading now, “How to Get Sh*t Done” by Erin Falconer. What do a TV show about organizing closets and a motivation book about productivity have in common? And how should it help you quit your job? Well, the answer is going to be a bit long, so bear with me until the end, and you’ll see 😉
A couple of years ago, I went into an airport bookshop while waiting for the gate to my flight to be announced. I can’t remember where I was flying to, but it must have been one of the rare occasions where I can walk in an airport store by myself, no kids around – I can’t remember that either, but if they had been with me, I wouldn’t have had the “peace” to wander around and look through books, that’s for sure. Anyway, coming back to my bookshop – The book I bought was “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. I don’t know if it was because of the title, because I needed a shift in my life or because I’m just attracted to anything Japanese – the fact is that I bought the book. Now, let me confess you something: I didn’t finish it. I think I stopped at chapter 2. It was way too much for me. I recall calling her “radical,” and I wasn’t at home anyway – I started reading once I got on the plane -, so it didn’t make much sense for me to read something about tidying up instead of actually tidying up. Long story short: I quit reading, and added Marie Kondo’s masterpiece to my collection of “Maybe-later books.”
What’s all the fuzz about Marie Kondo about?
As you probably know, Netflix released a TV show called “Tidying Up,” a huge success hosted by Marie Kondo herself! So there I was, having finished The Kominsky Method and with no show in mind to watch when I saw Marie’s cute little face on my Netflix dashboard. I thought I’d give it a chance and watch just the first episode – You don’t get to comment on what everybody’s talking about if you don’t actually watch it, right? Well, my “first episode” soon became “my first season” – I watched it all in just one weekend!! I found it fascinating! Not the tidying up itself, but the effect it had on the people who were actually tidying up.
Now, in case you haven’t watched “Tidying Up”, let me tell you what it is about: On each episode, Marie appears at the door of a family with her interpreter (she can’t speak English). Then, the family members show Marie their home and tell her a bit about their background and the reason why they need her. After greeting the house – yep, she actually does that -, Marie tells them to take ALL of their clothing out of the closets and start piling them up on the bed – the book actually says on the floor, but I guess they’ve adapted it to the Western audience. Anyway, that’s the moment where Marie leaves the house; the family has to divide the pile into things to keep, things to throw away and things to donate. The method she wants each family to follow in order to figure out what belongs to which pile is by asking themselves “does it spark joy?” or – if the objects they’re sorting out don’t spark them any joy – the question to ask themselves is “will it be beneficial to your life going forward?”
The KonMarie method wants you to take leave of all those things you keep at home but don’t really need. As I said before, what I found fascinating is how people changed when working with Marie Kondo. They suddenly realized that many things they were holding to had been undermining their peace at home for a long time. So the closet decluttering they started to get a nicer place soon turned into a mind decluttering process, if I may say so. They realized they couldn’t keep everything, they had to let go and focus on the now, and on the future they want to live – not on the past.
Where “How to get sh*t done” comes into the game
Now, it’s time for me to change subjects and stop talking about decluttering! Erin Falconer’s book’s subtitle is “Why women need to stop doing everything so they can achieve anything.” Erin wants you to prioritize tasks and stop doing anything which isn’t really important for you to do. Otherwise, you won’t ever find time for you to do what you really wanna do – whether it is to change careers, quit your job and start freelancing or just figure out what your dreams are. You also need time for that.
Erin follows a very similar process to Marie Kondo: she asks you to make a list of everything you have on your plate, and then choose three goals you want to focus on – on the personal, the relationship and the business level. From that moment on, every time you’re asked to do something, you’ll have to check first if it helps you achieve any of those 3 goals – or if you’d have fun doing it. Otherwise, just say no – and discard it. See the similarity to the KonMari method? Both Erin’s book and the Netflix show hone in on the same idea – You can’t have it all. Whether it is clothes or tasks, we’re talking about. You have to declutter, so let go of (many) things.
This applies to most people, but women (me included) have an additional problem when tackling the amount of tasks we wanna get rid of: We tend to be – or want to be – all things people want us to be. And we let our actual dreams and wishes behind. Maybe it’s just the excuse that we don’t have time to start something new – when we’re actually afraid. But more often than not the problem is that we really don’t have time for ourselves!
So how can we create time to start doing what we really wanna do?
1. Start with small habits. Don’t go too big at the beginning – you could easily get overwhelmed and end up quitting. So do you want to start running? Start with 5 minutes every day. Do you want to start writing a book? Start with 30 minutes every day. Do you want to start an online business? Start with 1 hour every day. Search for that time, forget about Netflix – but first, watch Marie Kondo’s show! 😉 – and get planning how you’re going to do it. If at all possible, try taking those 5, 30 or 60 minutes at the same time every day.
That’s how I got to read Erin’s book, by the way: I started reading 30 minutes first thing in the morning 3 days a week with my coffee. So every day, after taking my kids to school, I come back home, make myself a nice big latte and sit on a nice comfy chair with my book. After a couple of weeks, you don’t even consider not doing it. You just go, get that coffee machine working and get going. The same way you wash your teeth every night before going to bed. Do you stop and think if you should do it? See?
2. Don’t let anyone distract you. I say it over and over again: You need to let others know that you’re working. That your time is important. And that you mean it. So if someone calls you on the phone while you’re finally figuring out how to start a blog, don’t answer it. Even better yet – mute the cell phone!
If a plumber can only come to your place while you’re working on your book, tell him it won’t happen and call another one! What would you do if you were at an office meeting? Would you just leave the meeting to attend him? Nope, you wouldn’t! If your neighbor wants to have a chat with you… What would you do if you had a doctor’s appointment? You’d tell your neighbor to come back later, right? So that’s what you gotta do when you’re working on your project – whichever that is. Your time for yourself is sacred, don’t forget it!
3. Don’t let yourself distract you, so there’s no going to the hairdresser’s, to the grocery store or even to Instagram! You wouldn’t do that at the doctor’s, right? It would be disrespectful. So why don’t we respect ourselves? Make an appointment with yourself and don’t let you down – You’d notice 😉
4. Get help! If you don’t have time to go to the grocery store, do your shopping online! If the housework takes too much of your time, why not hiring someone? You can’t afford it? What about your partner? And your older kids? Now, talking about kids – Do you take them to daycare? Is it worth it? If you can’t come around with doing the housework yourself, try and use that time to listen to podcasts which motivate you or which give you ideas related to the project you wanna start. That way you won’t disconnect completely.
5. Are there any tools which could make your life easier? Try Evernote to keep everything you want to remember organized with checklists, pics or voice notes. Try Pocket to save all those websites you want to check later, or even Pinterest to save every interesting pin on a board, which can be secret if you don’t want anyone to see it. Just figure out what’s taking your time repeatedly – and how you can solve it. If testing new tools isn’t your thing, read this post about how to choose the best time-saving tools for you.
6. If you’re already freelancing and feel overwhelmed with all tasks you have to cope with, give automation a try. Are you working with templates for you not to repeat the same process every time? Have you created an automated email series, for instance? Try ConvertKit or Drip! You’ll be welcoming your subscribers automatically without having to keep checking your email every second – and without having to let them wait for your answer. Check out this blog post about automation and how to run your business on autopilot.
7. Last but not least, stop feeling bad for not being everything to everyone! A day has 24 hours and – unfortunately – we can’t extend those hours. Check out this post to stop feeling guilty – and start enjoying your life as you deserve!
Whether you want to quit your job and start your own business, write a book or become a famous rockstar, you’re going to need to stop doing everything for everyone. So the same way you have to throw away unnecessary stuff to make some room in your closet for that new dress you always wanted to have, you’re also going to discard some tasks you are used to do – even if they don’t bring you anything.
♥ Write a list with everything you have on your plate right now.
♥ Stop doing what you know you could forget about or have someone do it for you.
♥ Figure out which apps & tools could help you.
♥ START working on that project you always wanted to do.
♥ Make a habit out of it – for you not to quit when things get hard.
♥ Don’t let anyone – not even yourself – distract you when you’re working on your dream.
♥ Stop feeling guilty!
Are you born to freelance?
I loved your post! I also started watching Kondo’s show these Christmas and was motivated to finally throw away some old papers and clear my desktop… It felt so good! Now on to work on your tip #7…
Awesome, Sandra!! Throwing old things – and habits – away can feel really purifying!