Most of us have a love hate relationship with the January Sloth Monster. He’s a sweet, cute, weird looking little friend that says, “Hey, it’s 7:00am. We don’t actually have to be at work for 2 whole hours. We can get ready in under 10 minutes, right? Close your eyes.”
“Salad? Sounds like work. There are perfectly good magic cookie bars and blocks of uneaten cheese in the fridge.”
“The gym? Pfffft, you haven’t finished watching Game of Thrones in its entirety for the second time. Priorities, babe. Chill out. Aren’t you just soooo tired? I am.”
FUCK THAT GUY! I mean, we love him, but he has a place and time. That time is not mid January when you’re trying to get you life back after a month of over indulgence. He’s like that couch crashing buddy that somehow became your shitty roommate and won’t leave. It was a great party for a while but you're super over it now.
The problem is that you can’t expect Sloth Monster to leave of his own volition. It’s up to you to kindly tell him to beat it. The best method to accomplish mission sloth purge is to make J. S. Monster’s environment uninhabitable. Once your home and inner psyche zone are both places of positive vibrations, organization and productivity, old slothy boo will naturally move on.
Here’s a few ways to de-clutter your life, get rid of your no longer welcome little buddy, and get your shit back on track for a home run year.
TAKE THE WEEKEND (THIS WEEKEND) TO GET ORGANIZED
This won’t work if you put it off. Clear your schedule this weekend. If you have irrevocable commitments, the following weekend, but no later! The longer you wait, the more self loathing on the horizon.
START BY DOING A DEEP CLEAN OF THE HOUSE
I mean spring cleaning type shit. Don’t wait till spring. That’s too long to live with holiday dust bunnies floating around in the dark, mouldy corners. January Sloth Monster loves that shit. He bathes in its glory. Sticky cupboards? JSM can’t get enough. Slimy bathtubs? Sloth Monster boners.
Take a day to pull everything out. Put stuff that doesn't have a home or has questionable purpose in a pile in the living room, get a dope playlist ready and go to town! Get your detailing on. Buy some new sponges and scrub the bejeezus out of errrthang.
Or if you have an extra few dollars to spare, call a fucking cleaner. If you’re not the detail oriented type and you won’t really do a proper squeaky clean, acknowledge your weaknesses and hire the work out. Most of us have NOTHING extra at this point in the game but it might be worth skipping lattes for the month to spring for a sloth free sanctuary. Or at least do your best this year and budget it in for next January.
The point of the clean is not only the fresh start but it also removes the possible future distraction. You’re working on a proposal, big project, resume, whatever, and the thought suddenly pops up in your head “HEY! I should pull out all the dishes and clean the cupboards. Right now. Great idea.” NOPE! WRONG! Terrible fucking idea. Do that shit in a big blitz this weekend and remove the temptation to procrastinate in the future.
remove the baddies
Part of the clean your house bit is cleaning your fridge and cupboards, yes, duh. The other part of the picture is donating or throwing away those temptation foods that do your gut and your energy levels no good. Those are J. S. Monster’s favourite foods. They will almost ALWAYS replace a healthy decision. Your brain is still in psychotic Cookie Monster mode. You are craving salt, sugar and refined foods like a junkie right now. If you were a recovering coke head, would you keep an 8-ball in your night side table just cuz you didn’t want to throw it out? You can justify it however you want.
“I paid good money for that gruyere.”
“My mom made that fudge.”
“I'm emotionally attached to my pretzel stash.”
Whatever man. So long as you keep those around, sloth roomie ain’t goin nowhere. He is fuelled up and ready to hang out indefinitely. Get rid of that shit. But do replace it. Snacks are sooo important to have around the house. Swap your pretzels for cashews. Ditch the fudge and welcome a raw dark chocolate bar. So much less satisfying at the hop but it’ll satiate the junkie urge and afterward, you'll likely just want to actually eat food. If there are nothing but good things to prepare you’ll just make them. Sloth buddy will not be impressed. Starve that bitch out.
GIVE EVERYTHING A HOME
Once you’ve done your deep clean and replenished your snack deficit with healthy options, you have to deal with the pile of junk in your living room. Pick up each item. Where does this thing go? Does it have a home? If it is an imperative part of your world then make a home for it. Don’t let it float from your desk to your night table to some random drawer to the basket by the front door to under the sink to a hidden spot behind a picture. If it needs a home, create one.
Create a home for everything in your house. No chance for the clutter to accumulate and create a nice cozy hoarder den for J.S. to hide in.
If it doesn’t have a home and doesn’t need one, toss it. If it was sentimental once, take a picture and then donate it. Somebody out there will have the perfect spot for it, or their own personal sloth monster to feed it to. Whatever. Their problem now.
If you can’t bare to throw out the little bobble head thing your mom gave you in your stocking cuz she still likes to pretend that you’re eight, put it in a box designated for all those things that fit under this category. You’ll be more likely to part ways with it next January when it’s been idly taking up space for a year. Replace with this year’s random gag gift.
SCHEDULE FUCKING EVERYTHING
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can just get back into routine (or into a routine for the first time) by imagining all the productive and healthy things you’re going to do. For most of us, that just won’t work. Once in the habit of pressing snooze 5 times every morning, skipping the gym to run pointless "errands" and trading productive work for watching videos of cats sitting on dogs, it’s really hard to remove yourself from the routine of instant gratification - that instant gratification hole is usually followed by self loathing and binge eating which equals more self loathing - say high to sloth monster for me.
Beyond the inability to get back on track, if you are self employed, have a big project ahead or are working on creative pursuits, waking up every day feeling sick, anxious and fearful for the day ahead is all too common simply because you just don't know what the fuck to do! You know you have 7 billion things that need attention and life is just soooooo busy, so why can’t you just start crushing it?
You need to organize your week, bro. And I don’t mean get a cute little day timer and put little check boxes next to your to-do’s for the day. I mean make a weekly spreadsheet chart and plan everything right down to naps, calling the fam, guitar practice and outdoor activity.
It may sound extreme, but if you create a regimented schedule where every half hour of your day is planned out and stick to it for even just a month, you will naturally fall into good habits again. When you look at your weekly-colour-coded-super-awesome-fucking-inspiring-map-of-your-life you’ll want to adhere to it. Because if you space out on friendbook instead of doing your assigned task, it'll have to take the place of another more awesomer thing later. Your adult colouring session just got cut. That sucks.
More on how to make one of these awesome life aids next week.
MAKE A TO NOT DO LIST
In the same vein of scheduling your life, it is important to pick and choose the hobbies and projects to which you really want to devote your precious time. I speak from personal experience of being a hobby slut, it does you no good to try and do everything at once.
Choose ONE language to learn this year. Decide on one instrument to master up to jamming level. Did you take up archery, pottery, knitting and silversmithing last month? Maybe tone it down and pick one or two of those.
This is certainly not to say “Squash your dreams of ever making beautiful clay bowls for all your friends,” but prioritize, babe. Choose the few things you would like to practice and get awesome at THIS YEAR and put the others on a list for next year’s reevaluation.
Next muster an idea of how many hours you will need to be as good as you want at said crafts and hobbies. Work that out to a weekly time allowance. Plot that into your life schedule. Do they fit? Do you have room for more? Do you need to make further cuts? It sounds painfully unromantic and mathematical for creative pursuits, but the fact is, nobody becomes an aficionado without practice and determination. If you approach your craft like a half interested space case, you won’t be rewarded with becoming a pro. Fact. Plan it out. And put the B-list roster on the back burner for later.
EMPTY THE CLOSET
It’s far too easy to amass a hoarder’s worth of random clothing "pieces" for many of us because it’s really hard to toss out great stuff! But if you're looking at your old favourite leopard cardigan and your inner voice is whispering, "Babe, that's not us anymore. Once, maybe, but we are actually never going to wear that. Ever. Again," bin it.
Don’t be like my best pal who creates fantasies of the one time in life that that coral silk scarf will be just perfect. If you’ve had it for two plus years and you’ve only worn it once, it’s time to let go. You may find yourself in St. Lucia at sunset on the beach with a soft breeze blowing and some tan hunk walking slowly toward you with a look of unbridled desire in his eyes one day, but honey, you'll probably forget to pack the scarf anyway.
Even if you’re not into the fashionses but you're the kind that develops sentimental attachment to clothing or you just don't like throwing out perfectly good things, that's fine. I get it. But if you don’t use them, you’re being an asshole. Somebody out there will wear your Sailor Moon t-shirt with pride. Don't deny them of their thrifting joy.
If you’re really serious about minimizing the clutter so sloth man can’t hide in the heap, look into a capsule wardrobe. Highly productive people swear by the ultra minimalist approach. By having only a few key, high quality items in your wardrobe, you minimize decision making in that arena and save your brain power for more pressing tasks of the day.
In any case, ditch the things you won’t wear within a given month or 2. Clean the clutter! Sloth man hides in your clothing mess.
DETOX SHITTY FRIENDS
This one is especially hard. It is really challenging to let people go. There is some sort of moral compass that tells us as compassionate humans that we must make time for those people that make time for us. But we have to evaluate the reciprocity in our relationships and those elements that may be way out of balance. Sometimes this is a long game strategy. You’re not meant to ditch your pal who is going through a really hard time and needs you right now. Be there. But if they haven’t listened to anything you’ve said and have been just shitting on you for years with no end in sight, it’s time to move on. We call those people positive-energy-suckers. This is not a relationship that is based in love, it is founded and thrives upon dependency. Not good. You never want someone to be indefinitely dependent on you for support. Especially if your support isn’t actually helping. Don’t be the smack fix for a friend who is a victimizing junkie. They are addicted to shitting on you. That won’t help you or them.
Also, limit time with bad habit facilitators. If the only thing you ever do when you hang out with Stacey is get plastered and make bad life decisions, schedule a hang out with Stacey only as many times as you can commit to recklessly destructive behaviour. You love her, she loves you, but she’s a shit hot mess and best buds with sloth guy.
Just don't spread yourself too thin. Spend your time with people who love, support and inspire you. And make it count. Don't dilute the quality with sub-par quantity.
You are the accumulation of the 5 people you surround yourself with most. Remember that.
If you’re anything like me, you avoid checking your account and credit balances at all costs. I mean, it’ll all balance itself out if I just ignore it, right? Perhaps. But living in that perpetual state of fear is not going to propel you toward the productive, spiritually enlightening, love filled year ahead.
Have a boo at your money shit. Crunch some numbers. Get back on track. Suss out what you need to cut back on to get yourself out of the holiday hole and be realistic. It may take a couple months but that’s ok. Do a fucking spreadsheet. Get it over with. Purge your life of unnecessary expenses and free your brain of fear.
You can do this. It’s not impossible. But leaving mail unopened because it looks like something you don’t want to deal with is just feeding January Sloth Monster and allllllll his buddies. The last thing you need is a gang load of sloth assholes hanging out in your house/brain/soul throughout the year. Budget and be happy.
Think of it like a puzzle. It’s kind of fun. You get to make a whole new you!
I know it seems like a lot, but all you need is one weekend (this one) dedicated to a massive overhaul. I guarantee you will feel freer, clearer, more positive and on the road to becoming January Sloth Monster free.
One last note. Turn your fucking Facebook and Instagram notifications off. You do NOT need to know every time somebody likes your shit. Sloth Monster guy is very powerful in technological gadgets and social media platforms. Check in twice a day at designated times if you need a little boost. If it’s for business, fine, same rules apply.
Here's to a fucking kick-ass 2016.
ALSO, I would like to leave you with a few last minute thoughts on clutter. Just in case you need a bit more of a push from a reputable resource to convince you to sacrifice your weekend.
- Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important.
- Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
- Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
- Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
- Clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
- Clutter creates feelings of guilt ("I should be more organized") and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
- Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
- Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the "pile" or keys swallowed up by the clutter).