Where do I start? My life is so disorganized!”
Start with just five minutes a day.
“But I can’t accomplish anything in just five minutes!”
Five minutes a day is more than nothing, it’s a containable time period, and by the end of one week – you’ll have dedicated more than 35 minutes to your de-cluttering goal. Here are some road rules to follow, five minutes at a time.
Today’s 5 Minute Fix: Create a “Check in 6 Months” Box.
There are times when sorting through a pile of stuff, when you know exactly what to keep (the stuff you love and use) and what to let go of as trash or a donation. But there are always some things you don’t use, but you can’t seem to let go of. Whether it’s because you think you might want or need it someday, or you fear that your mother in law might show up and ask where it is… there is a hesitation – and a consequential decision to keep the item.
What most people don’t realize about de-cluttering, is that the BIGGEST part of the process has nothing to do with the items themselves. Clutter backups are most often rooted in an emotional place. The most profound way to truly de-clutter is to begin the journey of “emotionally un-packing” what is connecting you to the array of kept items.
People keep things for various reasons. The most common are:
- A perceived sense of an items’ importance
- A perceived ‘value’ of the item whether that be historical, legal, or sentimental
- A fear of loss, being without, or not having enough of something in the future
- Unresolved past emotions or missed past opportunities
- A fear of hurting someone else’s feelings
- A sense of unresolved anger, sadness, or grief.
When you get to a place of indecision with an item, it’s important to start to question why you’re keeping these items… This invariably will result in revisiting past emotions and thoughts and as many an organizer will tell you, may bring those emotions right back to the surface. NOW is the time to allow yourself to see what is happening – and make a decision regarding items for your future, vs. keeping items that keep you emotionally in your past.
The short-term fix when you encounter an item that you simply can’t bear to get rid of, is to place it in a “Check in 6 Months” box. When you’ve emptied and sorted a space, store the box of items somewhere out of the way (attic or basement). BUT… Make a note on your calendar six months in the future to go back through the box and see if the things inside are still items you wish to keep. Six months gives you time to live without the items, and enjoy the lightness of cleared space. Often, when you check back, you’ll feel a difference in the emotional connection to the items, and that your feelings have been diminished enough that you are able to part with the whole box.
If you are struggling with this process, I highly recommend finding a professional organizer to guide you through this emotional-unpacking process. Clutter is always a symptom of other root causes. When you are ready to move forward, you know it is time to do so. A Professional Organizer can help you get through these tough places and keep you on track toward your goals. Professional Organizers are trained and often work in tandem with other psychologists and therapists to assist people in this process. If you are currently taking medication for anxiety, AD/HD, OCD, PSTD, or depression, you may be a perfect candidate for this type of team approach to solving your clutter dilemma.
What most people do not realize is that the de-cluttering process is more internal (emotional) than external (stuff). If you stick with the process and see it through to meet your goals, you’ll find that a lot of the items met along the way have lessened in importance, because the space you’ve created has allowed you to live more fully in the present… and because you likely never dealt with why you kept the items in the first place.
If you need help decluttering – consider downloading one of the following to help you:
- “Time To Toss It” gives you all the guidelines you need for over-due items. You’ll finally have guidelines for how long to keep items on everything from kitchen items, to beauty supplies, to important papers.
- My “Dimensions Workbook” was created as a self-guided workbook to walk you through the organizing process, step-by-step. It’s like hiring a Professional Organizer to guide you through de-cluttering your most frustrating areas.
- OR – Hire a Professional Organizer to work with you as a tele-coach, or side by side with you in your space to help you move forward.