zen habits : breathe

The Simple Pleasure of Clearing Piled Up Work & Chores

By Leo Babauta

Yesterday we arrived home here in Davis, CA from a monthlong trip to Tokyo and Guam … and today I’ve been on a lovely spree, clearing out inboxes and processing paper mail and taking care of finances and getting my work and life in order.

It turns out to be one of my favorite simple pleasures: coming back home and clearing things out and cleaning things up, and generally getting back into my healthy routines.

In just half a day, I have already:

There’s more, too, but generally I’m getting things in order, clearing things out, getting things cleaned up, and getting back into my routine. I absolutely love it! It feels really great to get things cleared, cleaned and in order.

Now, it’s not always practical to keep things in perfect order, nor is it practical to wait until you return from a trip to get things back in order. So you might consider doing this on a weekly/monthly basis … for example:

  1. Weekly: Set aside a day of the week (say, Saturday) when you process & clear out mail/paperwork (I scan mine so it’s stored on the computer, then recycle the actual paper), go over your todo/projects list, check your finances, clear out your email and other inboxes, etc. Also plan your healthy meals and workouts for the week.
  2. Monthly: On the first of the month (say), do a monthly review, pay all your bills, clean out your fridge and kitchen, sweep the garage and back porch, and make sure all your systems are in order. Review your habits and see what you need to focus on for the next month.

That’s just an example, of course, but something you might consider and tailor to your needs.

But just going through the motions isn’t enough. You have to savor the pleasure of clearing things out! It’s a real joy to clear out your inboxes and paperwork, and feel the satisfaction of having a clear space. It’s a real treat to have a clean kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. It’s a beautiful thing to treat yourself to healthy meals, meditation and exercise, getting yourself into a wonderful space of health and mindfulness.

Savor these things by really enjoying the process, loving the way you’re cleaning your life up, one piece of mail and one kitchen counter at a time. Enjoy the space you’re creating, the release of things you’ve been putting off, the love that is behind every action.


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