We all have our rituals. Some people swear by yoga. Others can’t get through the day without meditation. Yet others consult the tarot while sacrificing a chicken under a full moon before they make any major decisions. I, too, have a ritual that I swear by. And I do it (almost) every weekend.
My ritual does not involve any chickens or full moons. But I know that if I don’t do it, I’ll have hell to pay. It keeps me sane.
If you feel overwhelmed, like there’s just too much “stuff” in your life – and your brain – then I highly recommend it. So what is it?
It’s simple. It’s all about “Returning to Zen”. I’ll be honest here: I don’t always achieve Zen-like Nirvana. But I don’t beat myself up about it if that’s the case. Remember, near enough is better than not at all!
“Returning to Zen” is all about purging. That is, getting rid of physical, digital and mental clutter so that you can make space in your life to be productive, give yourself room to be creative – and the headspace to make the best decisions.
Each weekend, I focus on four main areas:
This is your physical place – whether that’s at home or at work.
(a) Get rid of any crap that simply needs to be chucked out
(b) File! I put all bills, white papers, notices and so on into a “Filing” tray during the week, knowing that they are all going to go into the right spot on the weekend. Thanks to Susanne (awesome professional organiser in Sydney) from Lessmess.com.au for getting me into this habit. This applies not only to your work stuff but also things like clothes, books, DVDs, and so on.
(c) Make your place beautiful. That’s different for everyone. I get fresh flowers, stick up pretty quotes or pictures I’ve found on Pinterest, and arrange the never-ending array of cushions that interior designer Luisa from LuisaVolpato.com.au got for me.
Before you recoil in horror, I don’t mean that you purge people from your life. Well, not exactly. This is where I:
(a) Unsubscribe from newsletters that no longer serve me
(b) Go through my inbox and make decisions on the people that are the right for me to work with
(c) Attempt to get to Inbox Zero. The reality is that I rarely get to Zero, but if I come close enough I’m happy. I lose that nagging feeling that I have a tonne of unattended emails waiting for me to look at them. Bizarrely, this particular activity makes me feel most Zen. I get help here by playing the Email Game.
Purging your projects takes a bit of thinking time and is best done while going for a walk. If you’re sitting in front of a whiteboard or your desk you can get overwhelmed. Get away from the computer and let your gut guide you instead.
This is where I look at the projects I want to be involved in and remind myself that, in order for me to give my best, I can’t spread myself too thinly. So something has to go.
In the past, I’ve been involved in tonnes of projects simply because I was flattered to be asked. That’s not a good reason to undertake a project. If you’re not doing it because you really want to be involved, then you are doing yourself – and other people – a disservice.
These days, I listen to what my gut is telling me. And, as American as this sounds, the guiding principle is: “Unless it’s a ‘Hell, yes!’ then it’s a ‘Hell, no!'”
You want to be involved in projects that you are truly passionate about – and where you will give your all so that you can truly make a difference.
I found this hard at first. But now I’ve fully embraced it. This is about crossing off those “some day” items that have either languished in your “Some day I’ll get to that” bucket for too long OR which you know you’re simply not going to get to in the next year.
I know that some people resist crossing these items off their Pinterest board, “to do” lists, or mental bucket lists because they feel like this means they will never happen. Or they feel like failures because they have not yet accomplished these activities. That’s just nonsense. Get over it.
This exercise is about getting rid of mental clutter. If you keep it on your mental “some day” list you are constantly reminded that you haven’t done it yet. Get rid of it and free yourself up to explore the things you’re actually going to do.
The reality is that if you really want to do it, you’ll find a way to make it happen. So, until you’re ready to take action, take it off your list!
My weekend ritual can take anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours, but usually it’s somewhere in the middle. I started a version of this ritual years ago when I first met Susanne from Less Mess. Even though this was focused on decluterring my “place”, it had a (seemingly disproportionately positive) impact on my state of mind.
About a year ago, I began purging “People” and “Projects”, then more recently “Possibilities”. I may not reach Zen every weekend, but I always feel lighter and more energised to plunge headfirst in the weekend ahead.
Do you have any rituals that you swear by?