Now I am all for scrapping the whole perfectionism thing, and I'm all for owning who I am and who I am not, but this time I'm speaking to those things we have going on that make us feel cluttered. Those things/areas that are weighing us down, holding us back, overwhelming our brains with the feelings of noise, of clutter and the thoughts that we aren't enough. For me one area is the end of my kitchen counter where mail, magazines, kid's schoolwork, etc piles up. The other area would be my whirlpool tub where I can easily accumulate a mound of clothes that I've tried on and have chosen not to wear. Other areas might include the garage, or an office desk, or your email inbox. Whatever it is that for you clutters your brain and causes you noise.
In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor describes using a technique he calls the Zorro circle to help declutter areas of your life. Decluttering and eliminating the noise from our lives helps us to lead happier lives. Achor tells the story of the legendary Zorro from the 1998 film, The Mask of Zorro. In the movie, Zorro started out with big aspirations, but he had no discipline and ultimately turned to drinking and was depressed and in despair. His teacher (the old Zorro) teaches him to forget the big overwhelming goals and to just focus on defending a tiny circle.
Achor suggests that we can use this concept of the Zorro circle as a strategy to declutter areas of our life and ultimately declutter our minds at the same time. Here's an example of how it works. Let's say that you are feeling overwhelmed by the chaos of your office or your desk. Pick your Zorro circle. This should be a very small space, say a square foot, or one corner of the desk. Diligently work on clearing the clutter from that small circle. What typically happens is that you'll get on a roll and pretty soon the whole desk or the whole office is clean. By starting with a small Zorro circle it feels manageable and doable. The mental victory of having accomplished it makes it easier for you to then take on bigger projects. Once you have decluttered an area you'll not only feel good, but you can think clearer too, your mind has become less cluttered.
Now here's the key, you now need to "defend your win" by keeping the space decluttered. Guard this clutter-free space vigilantly. Check it in the morning, straighten it up after work, clear it before bed. You can move on to finding other Zorro circles to declutter, but don't lose focus from the circle you've already cleared until it's been mastered.
Actor suggests some of these places to create a Zorro circle:
-Create a Zorro circle on your desk, dresser, counter, or a table in your house that gets really cluttered.
-Create a Zorro circle in your inbox, dealing with just the emails that came in for the day.
-Create a Zorro circle in your yard or neighborhood...a little bit of garden or land that you fiercely defend and maintain.
-Create a Zorro circle of relaxation time - just 15 minutes that are yours, free of other responsibilities and worries.
Who knows what will happen if you start actively and vocally creating Zorro circles in your life. Maybe you'll feel so empowered that you'll end up clearing out all of the clutter. Wow, how would that feel? I can imagine feeling a lot lighter, a lot freer, a lot less noise. Maybe your kids and spouse will be so impressed that they will start to create their own Zorro Circles :)
I have been working to do this in our house. I have been "defending" the end of my counter and the space on my whirlpool tub. It feels good to have less clutter weighing down my mind. What are your Zorro circles? Do you think this technique can help you to declutter your life and mind? Can you see it as a conduit to allowing more happiness in your life? I would love to hear your feedback!