Some good life advice from creative coach Iulia Calota who's based at Club Southbank.
A few weeks ago my phone started playing up. Apps wouldn’t open, calls would break up, photos would no longer delete. I charged into my local phone shop and asked what the matter was. ‘I’ve only had the phone for a couple of years, it shouldn’t be on its way out,’ I complained to the shop assistant.
Without looking up, he asked: ‘When was the last time you upgraded your software?’
‘I don’t know, a year ago, maybe more?’ I shrugged.
He then looked at me. ‘Well, there’s nothing wrong with your phone, you just have to update your software.’
Unconvinced, I tried it and, of course, my phone was once again as good as new. But why was I so reluctant to do it, you must wonder?
Because, like many of us, I love postponing certain unpleasant tasks indefinitely and upgrading my software is certainly one of them. I’m one of those people who don’t understand why new software keeps getting developed when there’s nothing wrong with the old one. But this time, I had to.
As much as it displeased me, it felt good to have a functioning phone again and it made me reflect upon the fact that perhaps we can use a ‘software upgrade’ in life as well, once in a while.
Upgrading your software and upgrading your life are similar
There are moments in life when you realise that your wardrobe is dated or the clothes you used to love a few years ago don’t represent you anymore. We move and evolve in life and the objects that we use and surround us change too. For instance, I used to love wearing colour and now I dress almost exclusively in black and white. I used to love owning a lot of clothes and pairs of shoes and bags, and now I detest clutter. I have given away over two thirds of my wardrobe to charity over the past few months and it feels great. I’ve never owned fewer clothes in my life and yet I feel I have a lot more things to wear.
Time to upgrade relationships and routines
But it’s not just possessions that need clearing and upgrading. It’s also the relationships we nurture, the books we read, the kind of entertainment we seek, the holidays we take. There has to be a real sense of progression, otherwise we get stuck in a rut and we start malfunctioning, just like my poor phone.
I’ve recently become an advocate of the ‘essentialist’ way, a way that promotes the disciplined pursuit of less in all aspects of life, from business to personal choices. There’s a reason why I am a big promoter of de-cluttering, but I also love getting rid of circumstances that don’t serve my priorities, my business and personal growth needs. I love that feeling of empty space full of possibilities, the amazing capacity of my brain when I only focus on the projects that are important to me, and the feeling of happiness that I am a much more efficient human being.
Learning something new boosts brain power
Research has shown that learning something new has a boosting effect on our brain’s performance. It doesn’t matter if it’s something simple like how to use the Project Management Freedcamp application to handle daily to-do lists better or something that requires a lot of practice, such as how to be a better public speaker, it all adds up to having a better brain inside my head.
Unsubscribe, unfriend, unfollow
And since I’m such a big fan of de-cluttering, I tried implementing it in my digital life too. I discovered that I get a real kick out of unsubscribing from unnecessary newsletters, from unfriending people I hardly know and from unfollowing people that highjack my Twitter feed with useless information. This way I can spot the news I’m interested in more easily and I don’t feel like I always have an overflowing inbox all the time.
Here is my top five list of the life stuff you need to keep ‘upgrading’:
1. De-clutter your wardrobe
2. Shake up your routine
3. Reconsider personal and business relationships
4. Learn a new skill
5. Unsubscribe, unfriend, unfollow
The thing with ‘upgrading’ your life is that it doesn’t stop you from functioning if you don’t do it. But it’s like an accumulation of annoyances that, together, have an incredible effect of your happiness, energy levels, performance, creativity and relationships.
I think it’s important, once in a while, when everything starts becoming just a little bit slower and less efficient, to book some time to assess what aspects of your life need optimising.
And if you don’t know where to start, have a look at your phone. I'm sure you all those apps you never use are slowing down your system.
Iulia is a writer - author of The Love Project, a memoir about how she project managed love into her life - and a creative entrepreneur with a passion for helping entrepreneurs to grow and connect. Follow Iulia on Twitter @IuliaCalota
Natalia runs creative agency Natalka Design. Connect with her @Natalka_Design