How do you make the shift from a cluttered space to that Zen moment when you walk into your home or office and sigh a relaxing sigh?
Well for some, the instinct to keep things tidy is instinctual. Some people were raised in an orderly household and they have remained as such all of their lives. Some were raised in just the opposite manner and have rebelled against the clutter concept. Those who have the most problems with the organizational shift are those who got stuck in life somewhere. Perhaps it was a traumatic life event that removed them from their daily life routine. Adult children called upon to care for an elderly parent while still raising a family of their own. Married couples may find that their marriage is in trouble and in the midst of arguments, resentment, counseling, etc. and the last thing on their mind is folding the laundry. Several other situations come into play such as parents having to cope with troubled teens abusing drugs or alcohol, dealing with ADD or ADHD, or teen pregnancy. Another factor may be a child or adult parent suffering from a disability or illness that which the focus off of functioning normally and efficiently, and catapults them into survival mode.
Look for the low hanging fruit!
What I find happens the majority of the time in these trying life situations is that once the trauma has passed or people adapt to a new situation and get back on somewhat of a normal track, they look at the clutter in their home and tend to get overwhelmed. They are almost always embarrassed about the state of their clutter, and because they have never dealt with it before at this magnitude they have no idea where to start. Where do they start in getting their lives back together? If they’ve been organized before, they want that back again. If they weren’t so organized before but realize now they must be more efficient in order to deal with the way their life is now, they know that the organizational shift must occur. So where does one start? Nobody can come in and wave a magic wand – not a family member, a friend, a neighbor or a professional organizer. The beginning point is a decision that something has to change. The next step is just start. I know that may be frustrating for some, but if you make the decision to get organized, you will figure out where to start, I promise.
I always suggest that people begin with the low hanging fruit. When you look into a room you can tell almost immediately what is broken, not worth anything, if it doesn’t fit, it’s trash, it needs to go. Those items are the low hanging fruit. Get a trash bag and get them out immediately. One trash bag can go in the dumpster and the other bag can go to donation. Take the items to your chosen donation place right away. Once the low hanging fruit is gone you will surely see that you have made progress.
A yes is a yes, a no is a no, and a maybe is a no because it’s not a yes.
The next step is fairly easy as well. You will also almost immediately know the things that you are going to keep. You will keep photos, memorabilia passed down from older generations, and useful things such as furniture, appliances and dishes. Where people get stuck is on the “maybes”. Maybe I should keep this because it might be worth something. Maybe I should keep this because I might need it one day. Maybe I should keep this because Aunt Betsy gave it to me, but I am never going to wear it. If you follow this one simple rule about the “maybes”, it might help you work towards de-cluttering. The more you practice it, the easier it gets. The rule is: A yes is a yes, a no is a no, and a maybe is a no because it’s not a yes. If you pick up an item and it’s a maybe, tell yourself it’s a no. You’ll argue with yourself for a while, but if you keep repeating this process, the maybes will diminish and the yes’s and no’s will become clearer. You’ll be able to make quicker decisions and de-cluttering will take a lot less time. You will see quicker results, which will motivate you to keep going. At some point in this whole process, you will discover the organizational shift. It’s the peace of mind you’ve been looking for right there in front of your face. You will feel a sense of accomplishment because you did it and you will be motivated to keep things de-cluttered. Remember, it took some time to get into that cluttered state, so be patient and stick with it. It will take some time and hard work for the organizational shift to occur.