Braving the Clatter of your Clutter

When anyone thinks of tackling something like “organizing the whole house”, there often comes a wave or a wall of resistance, which shows up in a variety of ways – distraction, resentment and mostly dread.

So how are you going to de-clutter?
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. It really does not matter how many days or weeks or even months it takes to completely clear your home of clutter.

Then again is our home really ever going to be totally clear of clutter? I guess not! Detoxing is an ongoing process. Clothes get old, toys get spoilt, furniture breaks and so the need to discard and maybe replace these items is a continuous process. 

It is all about Acknowledging your clutter

Once you acknowledge that all your clutter is having an enormously draining effect on you, you will realise 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!

1. Set a day and time
Set a day and time to make a start, write it down and stick to it. Do not procrastinate. Even just 15 minutes is fine!!!
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.

2. Use positive self-talk
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.

3. Start small
It is a good idea to start with just a drawer here and there before tackling a whole cabinet and an entire room. Otherwise you risk being swamped with too much mess, which may ‘scare you off’ the whole exercise. 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 don’t forget to clean up after yourself before going onto the next job.

4. Start in the middle
What this means is that there is no particular need to start at the top or bottom if that is too much for your nerves. Just take it from wherever you are ready to start.

5. Start with your own areas first
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.

6. Use the highly recommended and effective four bag method
Get for bins or bags and label each clearly. TRASH, GIVE AWAY/SELL, CHARITY and SAVE. You will need to de-clutter room by room and if necessary divide the room into visible and hidden and spread it over two or more blocks of time. Put each item into one of the bins. Nothing remains outside. Once filled empty the bins into appropriate boxes or straight into the trash.

7. Set yourself time frames
Give yourself a ‘set amount’ of time to complete your job/s. If you need to, break down your tasks into smaller 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 of marking off items one by one)

8. Reward yourself
Reward yourself with a regular coffee/tea breaks (every hour or so). Then make sure you get straight back into it. You will find you are soon ‘on a roll.’

9. Find new homes for things
You may need to find new, more appropriate homes for some of the items you keep. So compile ‘designated areas’, (temporarily this can be clearly labelled 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.

10. Put it away, straight away!
Make sure you put all the items you have decided to keep and any new items you buy, into an 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 will be doing it without even thinking. Again do not procrastinate!

11. You do not need to keep everything from every event
Please do not keep every little thing from your children’s childhood or every “Picasso painting” your child ever did. Just a token or souvenir is sufficient.

12. OK, I admit there is a fifth box
Having advocated the four box theory, I will admit that there is often a fifth box needed and I will tell you more about it when you start finding a home for all your keepables.

Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any motivation to get you through this process.


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