The weather is warming up, the sun is shining, and my spring cleaning is underway. I wouldn’t consider myself to be one of those people that enjoys cleaning, I just like the way things feel after the job is done and clutter is cleared out. I’m pretty good about keeping the house neat and organized, but little did I know I was overlooking an area that would have a big impact on my life.
For the last several weeks, I have felt an unrest building inside me. Feeling like I had several things left undone, I found myself tackling the items on my to-do list with a new vigor. Unfortunately, my attempts at spring cleaning did not seem to alleviate the uneasiness, as I thought they would. Despite getting most of the major projects wrapped up and the weather being beautiful, I was going to bed and waking up feeling stressed, weighted down with knowing that there were just not enough hours in the day.
I needed to nip this in the bud immediately. For too much of my life I had allowed stress and anxiety to rule my thoughts, actions, and emotions. Not even realizing what it was for several years, I was astounded to see how much everything improved when I started cutting out the stress. In today’s society it is accepted as the normal way of life. Like somehow if we are not running around with an overbooked schedule on the verge of a nervous breakdown at any given moment, then we are not utilizing our time wisely. We are caught up in the belief that if we are resting we are lazy and giving up opportunities as they pass us by.
I am frequently lured into this mentality, as well. Every moment has to be filled with activity, as if what I’m doing is never quite enough, and I need to be thankful that I have access to all of these great things in the first place. It feels like not taking advantage of them is flat out unintelligent. In reality what is unintelligent is never feeling at peace, not enjoying our time with friends and family, and seeing the negative physical effects in our health.
I was caught back up into the whirlwind. Although I had myself convinced I couldn’t spare a few minutes away from progressing my online work, my body was demanding that this be addressed. Not seeing the forest for the trees, I was surprised to find that the online work was actually the source of the undue stress, in this particular case, social media was the culprit.
Having worked a traditional fulltime job all of my adult life until recently, social media had previously been just a fun luxury at the end of the day and not a primary avenue for career development, connections, and resources. Since then sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have become part of my daily routine. Never would I have put myself into the category of people dependent upon, and dare I say addicted to, the constant stream of incoming information. But, informed by trusted entrepreneurs, fellow writers, and even close family members that social media is a main pillar for any sort of online presence, I hit the ground running.
Social media opened up a whole new world to me and has been one of the best tools for growing my blog and interacting with people I would have never met through any other means. There is a dark side though, like all great inventions with that much potential in one place, it is easy to get caught up and lost in the midst of it all. Rather than standing out as an individual on these sites, I was finding it harder to remember why I was there in the first place. I was spending so much time sorting through all of the other wonderful things people were doing and the abundance of information available that I quit relying on my own creativity and was finding it difficult to stay focused and complete activities. I was even telling friends that the list of people I was following had become so great that if I missed an afternoon, let alone an entire day of reading feeds, it would take literally hours to just sort through the new posts. The time I devoted to upholding social media streams was growing at a staggering rate.
I went from not even having accounts on most of the social sites months ago to now feeling like every few hours I had to check for fear I might miss some key piece to improving my business. Reality struck as I was finding that rather than saving me time the sites were becoming a sieve, and anxiety started to rear its ugly head. The passion and desire I had for this was quickly turning to dread and a feeling of being trapped.
It was beyond time for action. Just like our homes and other aspects of life, we usually make vast improvements then set things to autopilot as we go into maintenance mode. General dusting and vacuuming works for awhile, but after a few months we know we need to wash windows, sweep the garage, and organize the store room. Spring cleaning had helped brighten up our home, and now I needed to remove the clutter, start fresh, and deep clean my online life.
There were several people and businesses I had started following only to find myself constantly skipping over their posts. I made a rule for myself that if I had not been positively affected by any of their updates for the last few weeks I would remove them from my list. I wasn’t trying to be cruel, I just had to downsize and I was at the pivotal moment when I knew that my peace and happiness was much more important than following someone I didn’t even know who only posted pictures of their breakfast or complained every chance they got. I was realizing again how valuable my time is and choosing not to simply forfeit it to sources that are not productive. I was disappointed that I had wasted so much time and energy putting importance on what other people were saying.
This week I will be stepping back, continuing to clean out other sites, emails, and subscriptions. No more wasted hours, no more feeling tethered to sites, and no more trading my joy for busyness. Shaking off the old cocoon I had built up for the winter, I am ready to enter into a new season. This will be a time to step out into my originality; putting those hours to good use, brainstorming and creating rather than simply rushing along and following.
Are there areas in your life that are in desperate need of a deep spring cleaning? Appearing harmless as we let them slip by, they may be costing us our time, calmness, and health. Take a few moments this week to sweep out the clutter, making room for the new season full of the promise of life and growth.
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