Organizing tips for people who hate step-by-step tips
photo from stock_xchange
"I don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming!"
That’s what most clients say when consulting on an organizing project. It can be daunting, but it’s like any large undertaking. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
No project can be done all at once. But even the process of breaking it down can overwhelm some of us. "Not only do I have this project, I have to outline it first? Like with Roman numerals and phases and stages and steps? AARGH!"
Yep, we hear that all the time. But, you may well wonder, if you can't break it down, how can you hope to achieve your goal? How can you get to California without a map?
Just start walking west!
Same goes for getting organized without clearcut steps. Just start. It’s really that simple. Pick up the item that’s closest to you.
The website throwoutfiftythings advocates asking, "Does it make me happy? Do I really need it? Would I pass it on to my children or other people I love?" If you can't answer yes to at least one of those questions, it has got to go. (By the way, "throw out" here just means to get it out of the house, preferably by selling, donating or recycling it.)
Getting rid of clutter is the crucial beginning of any organizing project — and sometimes the end, as well. There’s an expression, "Clear desk, clear mind." It's hard to sit down at a messy desk and feel inspired to begin working. Space is calming. It invites creativity. Clutter blocks creativity, because it fills in all the gaps with stuff that's already been created.
Here’s another good site: http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/decor/articles/2009/08/05/20090805bigpurge.html
Here you’ll read how to part with sentimentally charged items by linking your emotions to the memory itself, rather than to the physical symbol of the memory.
Okay, so back to the mixed metaphor of the edible elephant and walking west to California. Find ways other than outlines, maps or flow charts to measure your progress:
* Use time as your metric. Set a timer for an hour, for example, and go through items, decluttering, until the timer goes off. If you did this every day, by week's end, you'd have really made a dent.
* Use empty boxes and plan, for example, to fill one donation box per day for a week.
* Work outward from where you are. Let's say you’re sitting at your desk. Pick up each item on the desk, asking the above questions — do I need it? Do I love it? Would I pass it along to a loved one? When you’re done with the desk, look at what’s around the desk. Keep moving outward, bit by bit every day for a week.
As professional organizers, we at the Betty Brigade see many homes with unbelievable amounts of clutter. Sometimes the person has passed away, and we're called in to clear out the home and ready it for sale. It's astonishing how much stuff accumulates when you’ve lived somewhere for 50 years and raised a family there.
When I need inspiration to declutter my own home, I imagine my family having to come in and deal with it all. Once I see my own clutter as a burden to my loved ones, I have no trouble parting with it.
That’s the negative push.
The positive motivation for me is knowing the luxury of space. We as a culture undervalue space. We think of it as nothingness, when really it's something very special.
Space has infinite potential. As soon as you put something there, that space is defined and unavailable for anything else. But when protected and left empty, space contains every possibility, and that nurtures our creative selves.
How do you feel when you walk into a clean, clear room and sit down to work? I feel calm and restful. I feel flow. That's because the creative spirit can stretch, move and breathe. There is room for me there.
Something could happen there. Anything could happen there. That’s the inifinite potential in space. It invites flow and stimulates inner energies.
Let this be the year we celebrate space — the final frontier!
I’d love to hear your ideas on de-cluttering. Any tips to share? Special roadblocks you face?
Judy DiForte is a professional organizer for the Betty Brigade, an Ann Arbor-based concierge company specializing in move coordination, organizing and event planning. Email her at Judy@BettyBrigade.com, or leave a comment here.