The Ultimate Guide
I am a huge fan of doing a cleanse twice a year that detoxifies my body from all the crap I have been feeding it over time and thus has accumulated in the form of toxins along my intestinal walls (yikes!). 7 days of only vegetables & fruit, no coffee, sugar, alcohol, carbs, dairy and meat do wonders for your physical system. Your digestion is finally working properly again, you feel lighter and more energised and on top, you have most likely eliminated any cravings and completely reset your hunger feeling. It’s a great concept: take a few days to remove the built-up crap so your body is ready to take on life (and burgers) again.
But the reality is: not only your body is full of toxins, your entire life is. Your inbox is spamming you with crap and your phone with notifications, the clutter in your closet, kitchen and bathroom are subconsciously cluttering your mind and in your free time you spend time doing activities that you don’t enjoy — with people that are toxic. This might sound a little exaggerated but even if you are a highly accomplished minimalist, chances are you have at least a few habits and negative thought patterns that are toxic for your mind & soul.
Anytime is a good time for a complete life detox, as it will free up mental space and give you energy to take on new things. However, I found that a particularly good time to do it is whenever you have a transition in your life: Moving to a new country? See it as an opportunity to get rid of your clutter and downsize instead of just keeping all your stuff in storage. Got a new job? Take a week before you start to upgrade your mindset and let go of old, toxic thought patterns and habits that were holding you back in your old job. Broke up with your partner? Declutter your social life and activities and only focus on the people and hobbies that make YOU feel good.
The Complete Detox-your-Life Checklist:
Step 1: Clean out your closet
I am a huge fan of the Marie Kondo method when it comes to decluttering your home. If you don’t know what I am talking about, get her book “The life-changing magic of tidying up”. Anyway, in short, do the following:
- Pick one item type(e.g. clothes), screen your entire house for it and throw it all in one big pile.
- Look at one piece at a time and ask yourself the question “Does this bring me joy?”. If not, discard (or donate) it. Marie Kondo’s concept is all about surrounding yourself only with things that bring you joy. This approach works especially well for items with emotional value or items you think would be a waste to throw away, e.g. the summer dress you bought in Bali but haven’t worn since. Instead of holding on to it, acknowledge the value of the dress as the happiness it brought you back then in Bali when you bought it, instead of attributing monetary value to it in the present. Thank the dress for bringing you joy back then, acknowledge that is has served its value already and let it go with grace.
- Find a proper home for every item e.g. keep all your socks in one place, all your pants in another. Setup your closet properly once and stick to your system in the future.
- Maintain your order by always returning each item to the designated space.
Step 2: Detox your digital devices
Hello messy home screen and full iPhone storage! Attack your digital clutter by cleaning up your inbox, photos, documents and apps on your Laptop and phone. Depending on your level of messiness, you might actually want to schedule more than one day for it. Here is what to do in detail:
Getting to inbox zero from an overflowing inbox can be very overwhelming. Try not to get lost in the idea that you actually need to go through every single email. Instead do the following to quickly overhaul your inbox and start fresh:
- Filter for any important emails that you haven’t replied to by searching for specific keywords and senders (e.g. your boss, your bank, your mum) and deal with them right away.
- Unsubscribe from any newsletters that have been annoying you for months or that are actually interesting but you haven’t opened since 3 months. Tools like unroll.me will make this incredibly easy by providing you with a list of all your subscriptions and letting you unsubscribe from all at once.
- Delete or archive the rest so you can have a fresh start.
- To maintain a clean inbox, set up a system that works for you and hit inbox zero everyday. Going into this would go way beyond the scope of this article, but if you have a great system for it, would love to hear about it in the comment section!
Get a proper cleaning program like CleanMyMac or CCleaner to get rid of computer clutter, organise your photos and deinstall apps you don’t need.
For files, follow the process from Day 7.
First and foremost: delete apps you don’t need and organise the rest in a way that reflects your user behaviour: put your most important apps on the homescreen and organise them in categories that make sense for you (e.g. travel, social media, productivity, etc.). Go to settings and adjust the notification settings for every app to fit your needs.
Then upload all your photos and videos to storage (Flickr, Google Photos, whatever), delete them from your phone and decide on a regular process to keep your photos organised.
Lastly, go to your storage settings and check what else is taking up storage space. It is most likely downloaded content in apps (Podcasts, Music, etc.) that you can delete in batches.
Step 3: Declutter the rest of your physical space
Attack your bathroom, kitchen, living room, home office, cellar and any other rooms using the Marie Kondo method again: throw one item type at a time into a big pile, discard or donate anything that is not bringing you joy (or is broken, expired or unused for 6 months), find a system to arrange the rest and stick to it.
If you are a woman, think of planning some extra time for cleaning out your bathroom and beauty bag, as creams, makeup and lip sticks can be a comfy home for all sorts of bacteria if used for too long or not stored properly.
Cosmetics do have an expiration date (even if not indicated on the package) and should be fresh — just like food. As a rule of thumb, discard anything older than 6 months as well as stuff you don’t use.
If you want to elevate your minimalism game, make it a point to only keep one version of each product (e.g. makeup, mascara), opt for all-in-one products (mask and cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen, etc.) and use a set of essentials instead of piling up fancy but impractical products. With everything you buy, remind yourself: use it because otherwise you need to throw it away in 6 months. To get into a new beauty routine, think about when it makes sense to use this specific product and set a reminder in your calendar (e.g. put on a facial mask while watching Netflix or apply sunscreen while making your morning coffee)
Step 4: Overhaul your relationships
Be it on social media or in real life: unfollowing toxic people that you know are not good for you will free up tremendous mental space and increase your happiness by removing tons of negativity from your life.
- Social Media: Go through Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat and any other social media you are using. Remove or unfollow people that you don’t remember meeting or that post annoying and negative stuff. Leave or mute groups that are no longer relevant for you. For maintenance, think of a personal system for limiting your social media use so it does not clutter your mind constantly. Maybe you want to turn off notifications and only check all your accounts 3 times a day. If you have a great system for it, would love to hear about it in the comment section!
- Real Life: Make a list of the people you spend the most time with (family, friends, colleagues) and ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I excited to see this person when we meet up?
- Does this person treat me well (respects my time, doesn’t talk behind my back, listens to me and not just talk about him/herself, …)?
- Is this person good for me (does he/she support me in my goals? do the activities we do together fit my desired lifestyle or am I forced to compromise (e.g. drinking, smoking, doing dangerous things)?
- Does this person lift me higher (can I learn from the person, does he/she give me honest feedback and hold me to high standards?)
Remember: You are the average of the 5 people you hang out most with so make sure your friends reflect your aspirations, lifestyle and mindset. It’s okay to let go of friendships from time to time if they are no longer serving you. Sometimes, you don’t even need to actively do something or tell the person, as it will just naturally fade over time and might even be the best for the both of you. However, it might be more difficult to detach from toxic friendships that are attached to groups. I have not come across any effective methods for cutting off these types of friendships yet — so if you have any ideas let me know in the comments!
Step 5: Detox your mind
What negative thoughts, fears, worries or limiting beliefs have you been carrying around for too long? Get clear on how you are holding yourself back and upgrade your mindset to match your aspirations. I found that the following process works very well to do a holistic “fear and belief” cleansing:
- Rate every area of your life from 1 to 10 (10 = best):
- Romantic Relationship
- Social & Community (Friends)
- Personal Fulfilment
- Health & Fitness
- Lifestyle & Home
- Fun & Adventure
- Pick the areas of your life that you have rated below 8 and write down your current state as well as your ideal state for each area.
Career — current state: Working in a stressful job I hate, not having enough time to do what I actually care about and not earning good money either.
Career — ideal state: Being my own boss and in charge of my schedule so I can fit in my favourite yoga classes everyday and make time for my kids
- Write down all the reasons why your ideal state is IMPOSSIBLE for you to achieve.
– I can’t quit my job because my boss needs me.
– I would never make enough money to sustain myself as an entrepreneur
- Question all your reasons to the core by repeatedly asking yourself “but why?”. That way you will eliminate the stupid excuses and get to the core of your limiting beliefs. Those are most likely generalisations about yourself.
“I would never make enough money to sustain myself as an entrepreneur”
“Because I wouldn’t be able to acquire enough clients”
“Because I am not good at sales”
→ Limiting Belief: I am not good enough at sales to make enough money running my own business.
- Rephrase your limiting belief as an empowering one.
For example: I have all the tools, skills and resources I need to make money running my own business. Everything I don’t know about sales, I will learn.
- Repeat the new belief over and over again until it has manifested in your subconscious. For creative ways to manifest your affirmations, check out my recent article.
If you want a more detailed guide on how to identify and transform your limiting beliefs and fears, check out my ebook about Limiting Beliefs.
Step 6: Detox your habits
Whether you like it or not, you are what you do each day. Our life is made up of our habits, rituals and routines. Thus, you better have kick-ass habits if you want a kick-ass life.
To detox your habits, make a list of all the things you do in a week. Then, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this habit aligned with my goals? (Hint: watching Netflix every night might not help your goal of building a side business)
- Is this habit good for me? (Hint: mindlessly browsing the internet late at night instead of going to sleep might negatively impact your quantity and quality of sleep)
- Do I enjoy this or am I doing it just out of habit or social pressure?(Hint: just because you have met your pals for beers in the pub every Friday since college times doesn’t mean you actually still enjoy it)
For every other area (clothes, documents, emails), less is definetely more and you should eliminate the clutter first before adding new things to your life. Not so for habits though: It is usually a lot easier to replace old habits with new ones instead of just NOT doing it. If you want to quit smoking, define a specific activity you will do instead every time you feel the urge (e.g. take 5 deep breaths, take a walk around the block, …).
Habit building is also different from your other detoxing activities in another aspect: whereas for everything else, it is best to tackle everything and once and achieve a clean slate, for habit building it works best to change one habit at a time and only move onto the next one once you have actually made the first habit stick.
Step 7: Sort out your documents
This is most likely the most dreaded one for you. If you have lived in the same place for a few years, chances are you have accumulated an insane amount of bills, important work related files, insurance stuff and so on.
Go get yourself some nice binders, throw everything in one pile and start: Discard anything non important with a document shredder to destroy sensitive information and arrange the rest in separate folders sorted by topic (insurance, work, etc.). Additionally, store a digital copy of the most important information online in your Evernote or GDrive. It is always a good idea to have the following documents easily accessible from wherever you are:
- copy of your passport and identity card
- full insurance information, blood-group, list of allergies and vaccination pass in case anything happens
- certificate of residency and/or visa documents
- log-in information and tan list for your online banking and anything else you need to access funds
- list of emergency contact information in case you loose your phone
Liz Huber is a Mindset & Productivity Coach and Founder of refinedlife.io. With her books, courses, and 1-on-1 work, she helps entrepreneurs overcome overwhelm, lack of focus, fear, and self-doubt. As a result, her clients are able to confidently achieve their goals by prioritizing what is truly important and streamlining everything else.