Decluttering Your Life: Time Management Hacks With Gael Wood

Penny ZenkerTake Back Time PodcastLeave a Comment

TBT 202 Gael | Decluttering


Do you have so much stuff that it makes you unorganized and messy? Are you having a hard time getting things done? Tune in to this episode as Gael Wood discusses decluttering so you can efficiently manage your time. Reflect and think thoroughly about what consumes most of your time and assess which things or tasks you can let go or de-prioritize. This can result in you living your life better! Come and join us in this discussion!

Listen to the podcast here


Decluttering Your Life: Time Management Hacks With Gael Wood

I need this guest so badly because we’re going to talk about decluttering. That can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people but I’ve been traveling and my space is a mess. People say to me, “You must be so structured, clean and neat.” I’m not. It doesn’t come naturally to me. The more tips and tricks I can get, the better and for all of you as well. I’m excited to introduce our guest. Gael Wood is with us. She has written a book on decluttering. She is going to share with us some tips and tricks and get us back into shape. Gael, welcome to the show.

Thanks so much for having me.

Are you a neat freak and were you born that way?

I was not born this way. As I got older, was in that college age and moved around a lot, I discovered the joy of having less stuff. I was like, “This is fun to be able to pick up and move from house to house with just a car.” I am a fan of simplified and then I started applying it to other areas of my life. I realized at one point I was so busy and I was like, “I need to declutter the things that I’m doing. The way I’m spending my time, I need to look at that the same way I look at a closet full of stuff. What do I need that’s useful to me? What can I get rid of or have less of?”

We also have to declutter our minds. There’s our schedule, closet and our minds.

We have our to-do lists and beliefs. We can declutter on every level.

What do you think is the biggest thing that holds people back that they could get past?

As far as decluttering goes, probably that feeling of, “Will I be okay without these items?” To me, that’s a bit of a scarcity mindset. It’s an abundance mindset to be able to let things go because you’re telling yourself, “I can let these things go. I know on some level that if I need them again, I have the resources to replenish and replace.”

TBT 202 Gael | Decluttering

Designing Your Dream Life Workbook

What do you say about this as well? I agree with you that our attitude, the whole time management, even the word, we can’t manage time. It immediately causes that scarcity mindset. My twist on that is it’s more about control when we talk about those things and also our tasks, the things that we do that are less important. What keeps us from letting go is our need for control. What do you think that has to do with scarcity? There is a connection but I don’t know that I can voice it. Maybe you can put some connections.

You nailed it. For a lot of it, it is control and that feeling of, “If I don’t do it, what’s going to happen?” It’s that feeling of stepping into the unknown. It’s hard for everybody to do.

“Will people be upset with me because their thing is less important than the thing that I have to do but that’s the thing I have to let go of?”

If you think about it, stepping into that is like having faith, which relates to that abundance mindset.

We’re talking about tasks and letting go of something less important that maybe someone else needs. A lot of people will put on that hat and say, “I don’t buy it. It’s fake. Someone’s going to be mad at me. My boss is not going to agree with me.” I do think that if I were to relate to faith and open the floor to you, it would be faith in the understanding that I can communicate. We should have faith in ourselves to communicate effectively and the faith in someone else that they’re going to understand.

It’s the faith that you can handle it when maybe that backlash or controversy comes up. It’s like, “If that happens, which would be unpleasant, I can handle it.” I read a book that’s called Face Your Fears And Do It Anyway. She was like, “If you keep saying that over and over, whatever happens, I can handle it.” It takes all that fear away.

There are different aspects to some of those emotions in that exact statement but replaced by guilt, what I needed to do as a single mom. It was feeling the guilt and doing it anyway. “I needed to take care of myself, go out and have a night out on my own.” Instead of, “I felt guilty but I had to feel the guilt and do it anyway.” That expression sometimes crosses unproductive emotions that are there to protect us but at the same time, we obsess over them.

They could stop us in our tracks.

Stepping into the unknown is hard for everybody to do. Click To Tweet

In times where they don’t need to stop us. That’s interesting. People are getting caught up in this scarcity mindset. I’ve been talking a lot about letting go and I’m a big fan of simplifying. Where I’m best at simplifying is not necessarily in my stuff but in my thought process when I’m trying to solve a problem. How does one make that shift? Let’s say you were coaching me. I’m good at simplifying and solving problems. How do I simplify when it comes to my physical clutter? We’re going to bounce around here on different types of clutter.

Apply your logic to it. Let’s take coffee cups, for example. Take all your coffee cups out of your cabinet and you have 52.

How did you know?

Even on the busiest day of your life, in your house and your whole family is over, how many coffee cups can you use in one day? I would take into consideration how many you needed given the variety of circumstances. How big is your cabinet? We have limitations depending on how big our house is and how much storage we have. I would coach you on those two things. From there, we would say, “Are there any that you are like, ‘These can go?’” We do that low-hanging fruit first.

We’ll say, “These five I never liked anyway so those are in the box.” It would be like, “You said you could store twenty coffee cups.” It is what we decided would be reasonable for your home and needs. It would be a matter of looking and comparing them side-by-side. “Do I like this one better than this one?” You get down to the twenty that you want to have, which are your favorite. It is nice.

You can apply this to every area that you want to declutter. I could go from room to room, take different areas and say, “What is it that the space can hold that feels good and didn’t feel cluttered?” Process of elimination, get things out.

The whole, “How many do you need.” “We have so many extras of things like pots and pans. Even if I cook a big meal, I might use four.”

We purged pots and pans. There was a purging because I came together with my boyfriend and we had two sets. We’re like, “We don’t need that.” That’s true. We have multiple things and things that are sitting around for a long time that we don’t need anymore. They don’t serve the purpose that they once did.

TBT 202 Gael | Decluttering

Declutter Your Schedule and Create Your Dream Life

There’s a time cost and an energy cost to having things. When you have to stack your pots in a certain way to make them fit and then it takes you two extra minutes every night to take them out and put them away again or however long it takes you, that’s extra time and energy. It pulls away you down and you’re like, “I want to cook dinner but I got to rearrange the whole pot cabinet to do it.”

Let’s talk about that same concept and how that might relate to our schedule, also some tips and tricks on that. Everything that you said is relatable. We have more tasks to do than we can do in a day and people get caught up in that clutter. They say they have competing priorities but the truth is they don’t have any priorities because they’re not setting, “This is more important than that.” How do we apply that declutter concept from your perspective to our schedule?

One thing I like to have people do is think through your whole day from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. Break it down into fifteen-minute chunks. How are you spending your time? Look at little details because it’s interesting what you’ll find you’re doing and then say, “What kind of things am I doing that doesn’t matter to me that much?” Maybe you’re cooking breakfast every morning but you’d be just as happy with one of those smoothies that you pop open. Look at detail because a lot of times, it’s like our physical clutter or doing extra things that we haven’t considered why we’re doing them or if we need to be doing them.

What is the value too? We’re not considering the value of its impact on our day and the result of what we’re looking for.

A lot of things will decide to keep. When I did my big schedule declutter, suddenly my husband was taking our son to school every morning, I was like, “That’s awesome.” He told me, “You don’t have to get up and make breakfast for Santino anymore.” I was like, “I like to. My day started. I need to believe that he needs me to make him breakfast.” We can pick and choose.

There are probably some moments in there of connection time that you’re going to miss. A good point in there is it has to serve you in some way. One way to choose is what the value is to you.

We’re homeschooling and I’m like, “Get your breakfast. I see you all day.”

Interestingly, you talked about down to the fifteen minutes. I want to share with the readers that there are different ways to look at this but no matter how you look at it, I’m a big fan also of doing that time audit, stepping back and looking at where you are spending your time, comparing that to the goals and things that you want to achieve and seeing where the gaps are. I come at it from a high-level perspective. I don’t look at it from a detail. It’s good that we’ve got different perspectives.

There's a time cost and an energy cost to having things. Click To Tweet

I look at it from more of a category perspective. “How much time are you spending in each category? How much administration time are you spending? How much strategy time? If you are building your business, how much time are you spending on the business versus in the business?” Depending on what your role is or what you’re doing and what’s important for you to achieve, there are different categories. I look at it like that. What percentage do you need to be spending in each category to reach your goal? It’s nice for people to know that there are two different ways to approach it.

Sometimes you look at these little things and say, “I wish I was spending three hours a week on strategy,” but you don’t feel like you can. This is where you can find that time.

That’s where you can pick those out and say, “Here are fifteen minutes in and here.” Combining the two approaches can sound valuable.

One thing I did that I thought was fascinating because I’m a nerd was I added up how much time I was spending on things over time. I was like, “If I’ve driven children to school 30 minutes a day for 15 years, I’ve spent 3 months of my life driving children to school.” When you keep thinking, “It’s 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there,” it seems like nothing but you add it up like, “I’m doing this errand every week. It’s something I could eliminate, combined with something else and ask my husband to do while he’s out.” When you can see the value of how it adds up, it makes you more likely to make positive changes.

Food shopping is one of those big shifts that people have started to make if they didn’t already. Especially with the pandemic, having people order online, how much time one spends food shopping every week and multiplying that by the number of years is incredible. How much would I spend this year on food shopping? I can do a ton of other things in that time.

That’s something that people can consider. I have not gone online with my food shopping. Now that you’re saying that, I’m going to revisit that because I could be saving a lot more time by having them ordered. Especially there are so many things that are standard that I need every week, it could easily be delivered. Maybe you saved me hours.

When I added up my food shopping for a year, I was like, “That’s a month of eight-hour workdays.” It was 20-hour workdays that I was schlepping around the grocery store because I figured I did about 90 minutes a week to go to the store, do all the shopping, put it away and run back for stuff I forgot. That is one I love but I don’t like food shopping and some people like it. If it’s something you like to do, keep doing it and find something else to look at.

I like it but I don’t like it as much as the time-saving. It’s always something to say, “I could do it once a month or if I’m shopping for something special.” That’s a microcosm of everything else that we’re looking at. It is not an all or nothing. Interestingly in our thought processes, many people come at things as an all or nothing. It’s like, “If I’m going to eat these two chips, I might as well eat the whole bag.” It’s not like, “I can’t go to the gym because I only have twenty minutes.” You can. We get caught up in this all-or-nothing thinking. Is that scarcity? What is the all-or-nothing thinking?

TBT 202 Gael | Decluttering

Decluttering: It’s really an abundance mindset to be able to let things go because you’re telling yourself I can let these things go.


It’s human nature. I do that all the time. I read something in a book or on a podcast. I take it as the gospel truth. I’ll look later and be like, “Why am I doing it this way?” You have to post on Instagram twice a day. I’ve been doing it for years and not questioning it.

That’s something different to me than all-or-nothing thinking. What that is, is that we’re not thinking right. We’re caught up in what Bill Gates called, “Busy is the new stupid.” We’re so busy that we’ve lost the ability to do critical thinking. We’re not questioning and seeing, “Is that appropriate for me?” It might be appropriate for some people but maybe not for the business that you do. It is true that we adopt what we’re reading as gospel when it’s not.

We need to do critical thinking to see what’s important to us, where we are in our business and our life and make sure that’s going to be appropriate for our goals. Many people that I know run around like that with their chicken’s head cut off where they’re doing a lot of things that they heard or what they should do. It’s inappropriate for their business, where they are and what their target market is.

What’s funny is I’m also a coach and I would tell any coaching client, “If you want to do that, test it. Do it for 3 or 4 months. See if you got the results you wanted and then move on, rework or rejig it.”

Testing is a smart strategy there.

I feel like I do. Sometimes I’ll take something on and it can be stuff from our childhood like, “My mom always did it this way.” Even cooking was a big one where I realized a lot of my time was going into cooking and sit-down at family dinner every single night. I was like, “Although I love family dinner and cooking, I don’t love doing it seven days a week.” That was something I was like, “Maybe I’ll cook 2 or 3 nights a week and then find other things to do the other nights.”

Do you have any other hacks or tips that you can give us that can make decluttering our schedule easier? The first one was the audit.

Figure up that time class. The third one would probably be to get comfortable advocating for yourself, asking for help and empowering yourself to say, “This isn’t something that I want to do anymore. As a family or in a work situation, let’s figure out a way to do it that works for everybody.” I asked my husband, “Could you do one afternoon a week of all the after-school activities? I’m overwhelmed and I have work to do.” He was like, “I’ll do too.”

If it's something you like to do, certainly keep doing it. Click To Tweet

The thing is we don’t ask. We are afraid of that conflict. To avoid the conflict, disappointing someone or anything like that, we’ll throw ourselves under the bus because we’re not willing to ask. It’s such a crazy thing. I got wiser or there was some point in my career where I started to ask, “When do you need this?” Even a simple question like, “What’s the most important part of this that you need so that we can come up with solutions? If I don’t have time to do the whole thing, could I do part of it by this date and then the other part later?” We need to ask more and communicate our needs and challenges.

I did that too with the cooking and it was funny because I said, “We’re going to have to make your dinner one day a week.” My family was thrilled. They were like, “We make our dinner. We don’t have to eat what you tell us to.” I was like, “I didn’t know you eat all this delicious food all the time.”

You don’t know until you tell them to cook for you. That could be it as well. Not just make your dinner but rotate around the family so that everybody makes dinner one night. During the pandemic, my boyfriend, now fiancé, loves to cook but it was getting overwhelming with how many meals we had to cook during the pandemic than normally, people weren’t home. He’s like, “I can’t do this. I also have to work during the day. I can’t make a big lunch for everybody. Everybody should pick a day. You cook one day. You cook another day and then that’s a fair distribution.” It doesn’t happen unless you communicate. A lot of people get frustrated while they’re doing too much and it’s simply just asking. You’ll have the result that everybody was happy with.

We can walk around feeling put upon when we’re not even asking for things to be different. One other thing that comes to mind is being okay with being a little different. There are times when I feel like I’m the only mom that doesn’t go to some stuff or sit through practice and watch the kids the whole time. I have to be okay with that.

I’m glad that I have a different set of parents around here. I drop off. I do not stay. We carpool. We have to let go and it’s okay to be different. We have to do what’s right for us.

Every once in a while, I want to be liked but I also can’t just sit here and gab for two hours every day.

Do you have anything else that you wanted to share before we sign off on the interview?

If anybody would like to check out the book, Decluttering Your Schedule, it is at my website, It’s free. You can come and download a copy.

TBT 202 Gael | Decluttering

Decluttering: A lot of times it’s just like our physical clutter or just doing extra things that we haven’t considered, why we’re doing them, if we need to be doing them.


Is there anything else that you wanted to share or any other site that you wanted people to check out?

You probably know Laura Vanderkam. I’ll share one of my favorite authors. It was funny because I was writing this book, going through this process and then I discovered her books and I was like, “We’ve discovered the same stuff.”

Isn’t that funny? You’ve had this epiphany and then you see that other people in the world have come up with the same thing but independently. It’s interesting.

I love her writing and her books.

I interviewed here a couple of years ago.

Thanks so much for having me.

Thanks for being on, Gael.

Thank you all for being here because whether you are honest with yourself or not, I’ll bet you there’s either a room in your house, a closet or something where everything gets shoved in. Maybe it’s time to do some cleaning in terms of physical clutter. Take a look at your schedule, step back and see what you are doing that you don’t need to be doing anymore or some pockets of time that you didn’t realize.

Like Gael was saying, “If you added up how much time you’re spending on some of those activities, maybe that will motivate you to organize yourself a little bit differently.” Clean the clutter in your head. What’s going on in your head that you need to clear out that’s holding you back from moving forward in any area of your relationships, health and business? It’s time to clean that clutter. Thanks for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.


Important Links


About Gael Wood

TBT 202 Gael | DeclutteringGael Wood is a massage and spa professional with over 25 years of experience in the industry. She graduated from massage school at the age of 19 and then went on to open her very own day spa and therapeutic massage center in 2003, which she ran for 6 years.

In 2013, Gael launched her first online business, which she managed along with her career as a Massage Therapist. As the online businesses began to take off, she made the decision to retire from the hands-on massage work in 2016 and concentrate on using her extensive knowledge and experience to create tailored training and coaching materials and courses for estheticians, massage and spa professionals.

Gael is the co-host and co-founder of the Global Wellness Professionals Marketing Summits and The Work Freedom Summit. She was honored to be inducted into the World Massage Hall of Fame and featured as a Massage Magazine All-Star in 2019.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.