If you’ve been in my world for any time at all, you’ll know that my self-styled life framework focuses on clarity, mindset and action. When I talk about clarity, I’m talking about getting clear on what you want. And when you start really refining what you want in your life, well that’s when we start getting into the art of curation.
I think of curation as a really sophisticated form of clarity. And when it comes to describing curation, I’m inspired by designers like the fabulous Melissa Penfold who wrote “Everything that surrounds you affects you, so surround yourself only with things you love”.
So, you might be wondering exactly what sort of things we’re talking about here. Well, the truth is, you can curate almost everything in your life. This could be the people you spend time with. Or the things in your home. You can curate he tasks you take on. And the clothes in your wardrobe are an obvious place to start. Less obvious targets for curation include the books you read, shows you watch and your social media feeds. Imagine if everything you let into your life was something you absolutely loved. How differently would you feel about your day and the world around you? My guess is that you’d feel uplifted and energised and excited to be alive.
It definitely takes intention to be surrounded only by things you love. But know that I and many of my clients have done it, and you can too. While it can take time. all you have to do is decide to curate on a regular basis. And yes, sometimes you’ll still find yourself watching some mindless thing on YouTube. But every move you make towards curating your life is a step towards a life that feels unique and fulfilling for you. The trick is to decide you want a curated life and start refining from there.
Learn more about curation on the podcast
I shared about curation on the Self.Styled.Life podcast. You can listen to the episode here, or on your favourite podcast player. I’ve included a whole section in the podcast specifically on curating your wardrobe. Or feel free to keep reading below for a curated version of the episode.
Curation – where to start
Let’s start with the biggie – curating the humans in our lives. Who we mix with, work with and play with has a huge impact on how we show up in our lives. Surrounding yourself with positive, fun and inspiring people, as often as you can means that you are living in a positive, fun and inspiring environment. We’ve all heard the adage that we’re a reflection of the five people we spend the most time with. And if that is true, then spending time with people who uplift you and bring out the absolute best in you becomes incredibly important.
Many people think that making friends as an adult is difficult. But I haven’t found that to be true. My entire friendship group today comes from people that I’ve met later in life. And you can find your people by prioritising and showing up for activities you love. I’ve found my people at work, in coaching programs, in French lessons, in writing classes and through my creative outlet, Distant Francophile. And my clients have found their people through new sports and hobbies, cooking classes, formal education and their children’s activities to name just a few. Bringing new uplifting people into your life can be easy when you’re following the things that light you up.
But what about the people you already have in your life? Especially the ones that don’t bring out the best in me and who also happen to be in my family. Or that I work with. The thing is, curating your humans isn’t always easy.
You can’t just start ghosting anyone and everyone who brings you down. But we can consciously limit contact. We don’t have to spend stacks of time with negative people – we can set things up so that we’re in charge of time frames. We can advocate for ourselves. This doesn’t have to be in a combative way. Not every difficult conversation has to involve conflict. We can push back with grace and humour – remember we teach people how to treat us. And we can hold true on our boundaries.
Curating your to-do list
It comes as a huge surprise to many of the women I coach that we even have an option to curate our to-do lists. Women often find themselves in a place where they feel like they just have to do it all. They don’t even question it. Every household chore is on their list. As is cooking for every school bake sale. Or they feel like they’ve got to reply to every email or attend every meeting someone invites them to. And exerting this sort of energy tends to lead to one thing. And that thing is burnout.
But curating your to-do list is a way to bring joy rather than exhaustion into your life. The model I recommend to my clients when they want a joyful to-do list is the well known 3 D’s model. The Ds stand for delete, delegate and do. For each item on your to-do list, take a moment to consider whether it is something that truly brings you joy to do. If it does, it gets to stay on the list because you love doing it. For anything you don’t love doing, then you need to decide if it really needs doing. If the answer is no, or if it’s on the list because you think you should do it, then consider deleting it. And if you can’t delete it because it actually needs to be done but you don’t love it, then work out who you can delegate it to.
For the work context, is there a colleague who just loves this stuff that you can delegate to. And in the home or business context is there someone you can pay to do the job for you. And before you decide the thing will have to be done by you because you can’t afford to outsource it, I ask you to stop a moment and see if there is any money that you’re spending to reward yourself or to cheer yourself up after doing tasks you dislike doing? My clients often find they increase joy and save money via outsourcing because they don’t need as much ‘retail therapy’ or as many ‘treats’ like meals out when they’re not completely exhausted by doing jobs that could be delegated elsewhere.
Let’s get those feeds sorted
Another area that I highly recommend you curate are your feeds – namely your social media and news feeds. Most of us spend way more time on our screens than we realise. Sometimes that time is intentional, but often we use our screens quite unconsciously to soothe or distract us. But regardless of our level of intentionality, the outcome is the same. We are consuming content and it affects us.
Think about the reactions that you have when you are looking at a Facebook or Instagram feed or reading the news. Depending on what we see, we might feel inspired, educated or enlightened. We might also feel jealous, outraged, depressed, concerned, angry, worthless or overwhelmed. It’s worth curating your feeds – and even your inbox – to bring positivity and inspiration into your life. Put on your blinkers, develop tunnel vision and click on the unfollow button whenever you realise that something or someone in your feed is making you feel less than fabulous. And if you find that the someone is a friend, family member or a colleague that you’d like to support and you feel icky unfollowing, then use the mute button. You’ll still be following but you will only have to consume when you want to.
One final thought
With all of this said, please know that you don’t have to curate every area of you life all at once. Can you imagine how overwhelming that might be? Feel free to take a slow and steady, progress over perfection approach to your curation activities. Just choose one area and start playing with that. Then move onto the next area when you’re ready. Also, it pays to recognise that curation can take time – you won’t tidy up that to-do list overnight. Curation is more of a practice than a big bang event, and once you’ve got into the habit of curation, you’ll find that it happens automatically.
I’d love to know. Have you ever considered integrating curation into your life? Feel free to let me know via DM or leave a comment down below.
And until next time – stay fabulous xx
Image credit: Haute Stock