Once you acknowledge that all your clutter is having an enormously DRAINING effect on you, you will realize that there is no option but to do something about it. The process of acknowledging and taking action to eliminate the clutter is liberating and freeing. You will be amazed at how de-cluttering one area of your life can positively effects OTHER areas of your life -- including your professional life, your relationships with others, the effectiveness of your parenting and so on. So let's get to it!
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
If you feel stressed just by thinking about the clutter that has invaded your home don’t fret, there is hope! It didn’t get there overnight and won’t disappear overnight, so you need to be REALISTIC about the time it will take to address it. Taking many, many small steps will give you the results you need to reclaim the lost energy, space and time. Before you know it those STEPS will add up to a massive step in addressing the chaos in your home.
Set a day and time to make a start, write it down and STICK to it. Jot this down on a to do list start, together with what you need to make it happen -- i.e. garbage bags, labels, boxes etc. Make sure you have this all ready before the day. Keep this list in a spot you cannot miss such as the fridge. Many of us are such procrastinators that without this ‘reminder’ we find an EXCUSE to put it off again and again.
Use positive self-talk and an 'I can do it attitude' to MENTALLY prepare for your first job. This helps keep your energy levels up as well as the negative, lazy voice inside our heads at bay. Don’t underestimate the power of saying POSITIVE things to yourself, such as ‘It’s never as bad as you think’, ‘One step at a time’ and so on.
It is a good idea to start with just a drawer here and there before tackling whole cupboards and rooms. Otherwise you risk being swamped with too much mess, which may scare you off doing something about the rest. It’s also really important to COMPLETE one area before starting on another or you will feel overwhelmed. Just remember to start small and not to get carried away with the job at hand, and forget to clean up after yourself before going onto the NEXT job.
START WITH YOURSELF
Tackle YOUR own areas first rather than your partners or your children’s. Otherwise it’s too easy to find an excuse not to do it because it’s ‘their’ mess, not yours. Whereas if it’s your area then you know it is your RESPONSIBILITY and it will be harder for you to talk yourself out of tackling the problem.
LEARNING TO LET GO
Have garbage bags at the ready and psych yourself up to fill them up. You will need a RUTHLESS attitude and if you find yourself saying ‘But I might use it one day…’, tell yourself that if you were going to use it, you would have by now. It may help you to focus your attention on each item and say to yourself ‘Does this make me feel good/positive’ or ‘Does this make me feel bad/negative’. Anything that makes you ‘umm and ahh’ should be thrown. You’ll have this QUICK assessment down pat in no time.
THINGS OTHERS CAN USE
Have a separate bag for CHAIRTY items. Whatever you do, once full, make sure you put the bags straight into your car and actually take it to DONATE at the nearest drop off or charity store right away. Otherwise before you know it, it will end up back in the cupboard that it came from, only to collect more dust and cause you more grief and stress.
GETTING ON A SCHEDULE
Give yourself a set amount of TIME to complete your jobs. If you need to, break down your tasks on a to do list (making sure you write it all down on the one piece of paper!!) Keep it close to you, together with a red pen to tick off the jobs you complete. (I love the feeling off MARKING off items one by one).
DON'T PUSH TOO HARD
Reward yourself with a regular coffee or tea BREAKS (every hour or so). Then make sure you get straight back into it. You will find you are soon on a roll.
You may need to find new, more APPROPRIATE homes for some of the items you keep. So compile designated areas, (i.e. boxes and containers of various sizes) for LIKE objects. For example a bathroom box for soaps, hair products; makeup etc; a book and magazine box, kitchen box, miscellaneous box and so on.
DO IT NOW!
Make sure you put any NEW items, that you put it in the appropriate place straight away. Don’t listen if you hear yourself saying -– ‘I don’t have time’, or ‘I’ll do it later’ – just do it! You can make time and get into the HABIT if you want to. It’s all about getting into a new routine. Before you know it, you do it without even thinking!
THAT VOICE IN YOUR HEAD
Be conscious of your old MINDSET -- which may try to prevent you from moving on to a better place. Remember to be able to keep on top of the de-cluttering you have done and not end up back where you started in a very short space of time, it really does take a change in mindset. Be conscious of the old EXCUSES you used to make to yourself. You need to get away from the old 'I’ll do it later' and 'I don’t have time' excuses you used to use.
A NEW WAY OF THINKING
Replace those old excuses -- if you hear yourself saying these things when, for example, you have an item in your hand to put away, something to find a new home for, or mail to file, say instead 'I will MAKE time. It will only take a second… It will save me time later on. I will feel better if I do it now,' and so on.
YOU CAN DO IT
It really is a matter of mind over matter. As hard as it seems, or as tired as you are, or as much as everyone else in the family isn’t doing their bit we simply need to accept that it will take a little bit of EFFORT on our part to get anywhere. Learn to tell the difference between your excuses and real REASONS for not being able to stay organized.
IT WILL HAPPEN
The gains will come -- rest assured that if you do make the necessary CHANGES in mindset and habits, in no time at all, it won’t feel like a chore. Rather it will become part of your ROUTINE, that you will do without thinking and that will you will definitely feel better for.
Claire McFee is a professional organizer and the author of the "Organize Your Life" home information management system -- her products are available directly through www.onlineorganizing.com.