- Each day, choose an area of your physical space that you conspicuously leave cluttered or unkept on a regular basis.
- As that space gets cluttered, or is on the verge of becoming cluttered, clean it up before you do another thing — leave no trace for anyone who walks by to know you were there.
- You can focus on the same space each day or find new spaces every day.
- Some examples: Do the dishes rather than leave dirty dishes in the sink; make your bed as soon as you get up; instead of leaving clothes on the floor, put them in the hamper or put them away; find a place for your shoes other than being kicked into the corner; fold the laundry that just finished drying; clear (or don’t leave) piles of opened mail; leave your desk uncovered by work from today; throw out the garbage in your car or trunk —there is likely no shortage of traces of you left through your life.
- If you can’t think of anything, ask a roommate or significant other — they will likely have valuable input
Watch this video for an explanation of this Lifestyle Practice from Whole Life Challenge co-founders Andy Petranek and Michael Stanwyck.
Why Is This Practice Important?
We’re in a hurry. And being in a hurry, we often think we’ll take care of cleaning things up later. The problem is, because we’re always in a hurry, those things easily back up. And that backup can leave clutter, messiness, and a sense of being uncomfortable in our own spaces — both for you and the people you share these spaces with.
It’s sometimes hard to believe you have time to leave a place “traceless.” The “next” thing seems so pressing and the current thing so meaningless. How could taking the time to clean the dishes be nearly as important as getting to my appointment? What if there’s traffic? What will I do if I get “behind”?
Those may be the times you need to slow down the most. Leaving no trace is really a practice of practical mindfulness — stopping to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. It usually doesn’t take as long as you think, and focusing on it gives you a chance to breathe — leaving no chaos behind and creating less chaos ahead.
Taking a moment to be and to breathe may be just the thing you need to have a positive impact on the important things you are about to do next.
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