After seven to ten billion cookies and countless miles logged around the world, Santa needs a rest.

When the sleigh’s empty, he doesn’t return to the North Pole.  He does two things to prepare for next year.  He goes straight to the gym, then relaxes for a few weeks at the beach, deep undercover.  No one suspects Santa’s in the sun, so he’s safe from “I wants” even with his distinctive brand and beard.

Meanwhile, the elves get busy cleaning up for next year.  Decluttering is a major issue in the North Pole, as it is for us all.  Scraps of wrapping paper, last year’s models, and trending items pack the workshops.  Everything must go to make way for next year.

Many people don’t know this, but that’s how major retailers like, Amazon, and get their after-Christmas sale items.  Elves clear out this year’s models and firesale them to discount sites, switching warehouse codes and making back some of the cash they otherwise would’ve lost.

This way they can buy what they need to start production on things you’ll love when Black Friday rolls around next year.

How do they know what you’ll want this far ahead of time?

Easy… with today’s market surveys, it doesn’t take an elf to predict.  Google is the biggest help of all.  Ever think of something really obscure and put the first letter in the search window–and it appears?

Aardvark, for example.  I know very little about aardvarks, so I search.

I type “a” in the window.  Nothing more.  Just the letter A.  Magic!  Aardvarks everywhere!  The window autofills.  I get pictures, videos, songs, and images.  Before long, I’m an aardvark expert.

It’s not difficult to see what people will want next year.  Google ranks searches so the most popular rise to the top.  I know what fashions will be trending and what people are searching for way ahead of the curve.

How do you think Santa knows what to make and how much of everything he’ll need?  Google’s data goes straight to the Big Man himself.

How does he know what to get you specifically?  Easy.  If the NSA can monitor your web surfing, don’t you think St. Nick can, too?  Spies and governments are only human, but Santa–he’s magic.  So you’d better be searching for something nice.

Once the elves get rid of the overstock and start compiling reports for next year, production can begin. The Naughty and Nice Departments can base their numbers on last year’s trends to finalize next year’s gift list.  Every once in a while there’ll be peak niceness–more kids than ever earning gifts.  Santa has to be ready.

I heard a rumor the Naughty Department made a change–Santa’s not leaving coal anymore.  He’s bringing kale chips to the unkind and thoughtless instead.  Coal’s too valuable.  Kale teaches lessons and promotes healthy eating, a win-win for Santa and children everywhere.

After a few weeks, the elves are done organizing and Santa comes back from the beach and gym a few pounds lighter and healthier, jollier than ever, ready to deal with the world’s nonsense and to streamline operations for the upcoming season.

In honor of Santa’s gifts and generosity, I’m decluttering, too.

It’s never easy for me, but once in a while, I get in the mood.  Because I’m an adult, I can have fun with this.  I don’t get grounded and have to “finish the job right” for everyone else.  My goal–to make progress for me.  That’s a whole new ball game, but the way it should be.  When I feel forced to do things, they don’t always stick.  When I improve for me, it’s like charging a beacon the world can see.

I threw away boxes of things I don’t need, dug out the cellar, started sorting clothes, and refilled the ingredients in my spice cabinet, and started preparing for a healthy new year.  I threw out foods I don’t eat and stared down literature, asking “Do I really need those books when Google and Kindle are my best friends?”

It’s a process, but it’s critical to clear away the old to make way for the new, in our physical lives–and our mental and spiritual lives as well.

As I declutter, I think about everything that touches my life–people, jobs, processes, knowledge, attitudes, patterns, and habits.  I ask myself “What purpose does that serve?”

If it lifts me up, makes me smile, or makes me a better human being, it stays.

If not, it goes.  Some things go immediately.  Others must go gently–maybe even not today.  Those, I pack in a mental bin because I’m not ready and I know I’ll need to do more work on myself before they can leave forever, but when they do, I’ll have a brighter light to shine and more space in my heart for the world.

That’s how decluttering works in the body and the mind.  I get rid of what I can now but I prepare to get rid of even more.  I really don’t need very much when I stop and think about it.

When I get rid of the excess, the clutter, and the nonsense, my life becomes better, filled with space and freedom to treasure new things, habits, people, pursuits, and ideas.

Santa knows this.  So do his elves.   This is how he runs his operation.  It’s how I seek to run mine, too.

Rest, regenerate, and remove… These are the secrets to a successful new year, and every day in between… May you be blessed with those things this year. 


Resources That Inspire

Physical Decluttering:

There are a thousand books out there on decluttering.  My favorite is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It turns decluttering into something between hobby and zen.  I now love to fold clothes.  I used this site all the time the first time I decluttered.  It gives the overwhelmed a new lease on planning, financial wellness, and getting rid of stuff, broken down into 15 minute challenges and small tasks.  Most of physical clutter comes from a sense of the memories attached to items and a lack of knowing where to start.  FlyLady is part motivation, part cheerleader.  She definitely makes the process fun.

Mental and spiritual decluttering

These are a few of my favorite resources.

The Power of No:  Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Happiness, and Abundance by James Altucher and Claudia Azula-Altucher.  Should you be saying “no” far more often?  I bet you should.  “No” is one of the most magical declutterers of all.

Live Your Truth by Kamal Ravikant.   “Live Your Truth” reminds me how to make life beautiful and leave some of the things that must go.

Get off your “But”: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself by Dr. Sean Stephenson.  Sean Stephenson’s life is textbook inspirational.  Dr. Stephenson overcame mountains to live.  Tony Robbins wrote the foreword to this must-read, that teaches readers they can survive and thrive in any situation.

Anything by Tony Robbins.  Here’s the link to “Awaken The Giant Within.” but I prefer to listen to Tony Robbins’ motivational speaking. Listen to this TED talk  “Why Do We Do What We Do” today.

My book: Don’t Sniff the Glue: A Teacher’s Misadventures in Education Reform.  It’s not fair to put my book on this list of truly inspirational declutter books… or is it?  Teachers are hoarders and clutterers.  It’s not our fault.  We’re trained to keep things because we work in systems that don’t give us what we need.  When I started decluttering at home, I was able to let go much more easily–in the classroom, too.  I saved mountains of money–and space.

I’d love to hear your favorites.  Please reach out to me on Twitter @runningdmc or by email: or comment below.

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