The Simple Pleasure of Clearing Piled Up Work and Chores

It's not just about cleaning up your life, but about savoring the space and habits you create
By Leo Babauta, www.zenhabits.net
May 19, 2018 Updated: June 1, 2018    

Yesterday, we arrived back home from a monthlong trip to Tokyo and Guam. Today, I’ve been on a lovely spree, clearing out inboxes, processing paper mail, 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, cleaning things up, and generally getting back into my healthy routines.

In just half a day, I have already …

  • Unpacked and put things away
  • Cleared through (and answered) most of my emails and messages on different platforms
  • Processed a pile of paper mail
  • Paid bills and generally taken care of my finances
  • Sorted through my calendar and to-do list, going over appointments and getting tasks in order
  • Taken care of a bunch of work admin tasks
  • Cleaned out most of the refrigerator and some of the rest of the kitchen
  • Shopped for groceries for healthy meals, and made myself a breakfast of oats, nuts, and berries, and a huge salad with greens, nuts, beans, and edamame
  • Restarted my morning meditation/yoga routine
  • Shaved my head and generally gotten my hygiene in pristine order

There’s more, too, but generally I’m getting things in order. 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 or monthly basis, for example:

  1. Weekly: Set aside a day of the week (say, Saturday) when you process and clear out mail and paperwork. I scan mine so it’s stored on the computer, then recycle the actual paper. Go over your to-do list, check your finances, clear out your email and other inboxes, and so on. Plan your healthy meals and workouts for the week.
  2. Monthly: On the first of the month (say), do a monthly review, pay all of your bills, clean out your fridge and kitchen, sweep the garage and back porch, and make sure all of 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 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, and the love that is behind every action.

Leo Babauta is the author of six books, the writer of “Zen Habits,” a blog with more than 2 million subscribers, and the creator of several online programs to help you master your habits. Visit ZenHabits.net