Anyone who’s met me knows I’m multipassionate. When I’m not brainstorming new business ideas, I’m trying a complex pasta recipe or hitting up a new fitness class at my gym. I love picking up new hobbies and projects, but even I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the directions I’m pulled in. So how do you declutter old hobbies and business ideas to make space for new ones?
Here’s how I cut through the clutter to find the hobbies and projects that mean the most to me.
The Truth About Clutter
When most people think of clutter, they think of closets full of worn-out clothes and kitchen counters covered in Tupperware. While that definitely counts as clutter, it’s not the only kind.
In reality, you can experience clutter physically, mentally, and emotionally. Each type adds to the sense of overwhelm you feel when confronted with a messy house or overbooked calendar. And more often than not, clutter in one area of your life creates clutter everywhere else.
When it comes to hobbies, it’s easy to get caught up in trying new things, only to find a few months later that you’re overwhelmed by a ton of surface-level knowledge and beginner-level supplies. (If you’re the kind of person who keeps a ‘craft drawer’ but never crafts, you know what I’m talking about!) While I’m a huge proponent of trying new things, I believe this pattern is a form of deflection.
Breaking the New Hobby Cycle
Picture this. You stumble upon a TikTok of someone knitting, and you decide you want to give it a try. You order the needles, the yarn, the patterns, all of it. You settle in on the couch to knit yourself a scarf. After a few hours of knitting (and another hour watching Youtube tutorials), you’ve got yourself a wonky-looking square to show for your efforts. The next day, when you see that funny square of fabric, you can’t bring yourself to pick it back up.
Put simply, this new hobby is old news because it didn’t give you the dopamine rush you were seeking. When you practice a hobby you enjoy, you get a little boost of dopamine. But unfortunately, the early stages of any hobby aren’t all that enjoyable. You might get frustrated or confused as you try to learn this new skill, and that could create a negative association with the task. Instead of practicing the hobby, you pick up another one. Wash, rinse, and repeat!
So while there’s nothing wrong with trying new things, there’s also value in sticking with something that doesn’t come naturally to you. Give a new hobby at least a month. After that month, ask yourself if you enjoyed the process. Ask yourself if the hobby added any joy to your life. If not, feel free to try something new. If it did (even just a little bit!), stick with it.
How to Declutter Old Hobbies & Projects
Overwhelmed by mountains of abandoned hobby supplies? Here’s how to clear some space.
1. Get all your clutter out in the open.
This tip comes straight from the queen of decluttering, Marie Kondo. Grab all your old hobby supplies and put them in the same place, preferably the floor or a big table. This means all your books, art supplies, everything! Seeing it all in the open puts the clutter into perspective.
If you actively pay for any of your hobbies (like with a gym membership), include the price in this exercise. (And if you’ve been paying for any hobby you haven’t done in the past six months, do yourself a favor and cancel that membership ASAP!)
2. Focus on the process, not the result.
For every hobby, ask yourself, “Do I enjoy this process?”
At the end of the day, your hobbies are self care. You should enjoy the process of your hobbies, not just the results. If painting stresses you out, chances are you won’t pick up your brushes at the end of a stressful day. But if your half hour on the treadmill is where you find your peace, then walking or running might be a hobby you stick with.
Of course, which hobbies you pursue are entirely up to you. If painting is stressful but you love hanging your own artwork around the house, make time for it. Just maybe don’t plan to paint after a long, hard day of work.
3. Give your old hobbies a second life.
For hobbies that you’ve decided to let go of, share the love with someone else. Ask friends if they’ve ever wanted to give it a try, or donate your supplies to a thrift store, nursing home, or free group on Facebook.
For hobbies you want to give another go, put your supplies somewhere you’ll see them often. Set that book you’ve been meaning to read beside your go-to phone charging spot. Replace your slippers by the door with running shoes for when you walk the dog. Make it easy to remember about your hobbies and pick them up when you have a few spare minutes in your day.
If you want to give an old hobby another go but you’re feeling uninspired, look for a community! There are tons of Facebook groups for every hobby under the sun, from painting to bird watching to reading. It’s so much easier to feel inspired when you spend time with people who love the same things as you do.
4. Make time for what you love.
How many hobbies have you abandoned simply because life or work got in the way? If you really want to pursue a new hobby, you need to make time for it. Open your calendar and block off time every single week to spend on your hobbies. If the time comes and you’d rather rest during that time, go for it. But blocking off just a bit of your week will eliminate the “I don’t have time” excuse.
Want to create more time and space for the things you love?
For step-by-step instructions on creating time-freedom in your life and business, check out my new mini course, The Time-Freedom Blueprint or learn about the 7 types of rest so you can switch off without feeling guilty and increase productivity.