The 3rd week of March is clutter awareness week in the US. Well, who wouldn’t want to have a clutter-free and organised home? The benefits are numerous, but let’s face it, it does take time to get organised and just the thought of de-cluttering does put a lot of people off.
As a Professional Organiser, I believe that progress and not perfection should be the goal in getting organised. In other words, it’s better to start and do a little something than letting clutter invade our lives further. So how about I give you a little challenge and ask you to get rid of as much clutter as you can in your home over the course of the next 10 days? Mission impossible? Definitely not if you follow these simple rules:
Be prepared – Gather a large garbage bag for stuff to thrash and a large container, box, or basket for stuff to donate to charities, give away to family or friends, and sell. Block the time in your diary. Take into consideration your energy levels and personal preferences – first thing in the morning so that you will be over with it before you can think of an excuse not to do it, before an activity that you look forward to doing, etc.
Be systematic – Tackle one room at a time. Don’t move to another room until you are finished with the first one. Progressively move throughout your home. It doesn’t really matter where you start and in which sequence you go through your home. Although starting in a room where you will find it easy to make decisions will ensure some quick wins and should give you the motivation you might need to carry on.
Be focused. Set a timer and work for anything from 5 minutes to a couple of hours based on your concentration threshold and availability. Yes, even 5 minutes at a time will make a difference. Put music on if it helps but no distractions or interruptions are allowed. When time is up, stop and move on to whatever else is on the agenda for the day.
Be ruthless but not reckless – You don’t want to regret any decisions. The idea, at this stage, is to focus on items that are a no-brainer for you to part with: the broken toys, the faded/stained/torn clothes, the old magazines and newspapers, the expired food and cosmetics, the stuff that you don’t use, the stuff that you don’t like, the stuff that doesn’t belong to you, etc. Do not spend too much time making the decision on whether to keep or toss, if you have a doubt, keep it for now. This is particularly true for the items that you are emotionally attached to.
Be respectful – Don’t decide on others’ behalf even if they give you their blessings. And don’t underestimate a child’s memory, they easily notice when something they value goes missing. Involve them when and where necessary. Failing to do so almost unavoidably leads to anger, resentment, and frustration and will probably stop you altogether in your tracks.
Out of sight, out of mind – When the purge is over, get the items out of your home as soon as possible. You don’t want to start a pile of clutter elsewhere or start rummaging in your castaways pile and putting them back in your closets.
You will be surprised at how much you can achieve in small pockets of time over a 10-day period. That said I need to warn you that this quick-and-dirty way won’t fix the cause of the problem. Watch this space on how to deal with that. But for now, I am confident it will give you a head start and hopefully will leave you with the motivation to embark on the rest of your organising journey.
So, are you up to the challenge? If the answer is yes, I wish you luck and look forward to hearing how much you have achieved in 10 days. If the answer is no, I would love to know what it is that is holding you back.