Clear Things Out

By Leo Babauta

I’ve recently reminded myself of the value of dedicating some time to just clearing things out.

It’s a simple truth that wherever things can accumulate, they will. Emails pile up, clutter piles up, read later list piles up, small admin tasks build up like cruft.

This is the nature of things: they accumulate if we don’t tend to them.

And so, we must tend to them.

What I’ve found valuable is leaving some blocks of time for clearing things out:

  • Some space at the end of each day to clear out your email inbox or unread messages in Slack
  • A day every week where I read through my read-later list (I use Instapaper) and empty it out
  • A day to get to all the small admin tasks that pile up, or a couple of half days
  • A time on the weekend for taking care of small chores and repairs that I didn’t have time to get to during the week
  • A Sunday weekly review where I make sure all the piles are cleared, my todo and project lists are updated, and everything is in order

These don’t have to take long — an hour, sometimes less. Some things take a few hours.

The problem is that we pack our days with tasks, meetings, calls, and other things so much that we don’t leave spaciousness for tending to our lives. And when we do have some space, we tend to fill it with our favorite distractions.

That’s all fine, but it’s also incredibly helpful to leave some space to tending to our little gardens. Clear out the weeds, take care of things.

The mental health that results from tending to our lives, clearing out piles, and cleaning up messes is incredibly replenishing.