Digging out from Under the Clutter:
The Secret to Organization Revealed

It’s Spring and many folks are thinking about Spring Cleaning. I mentioned in my very first post that in my previous life [read: before becoming a SAHM to new baby] I spent over a decade helping folks with home organization. Ironically, I started my business as a Professional Organizer (way back in 1994) not because I was an organized person but because I was just the opposite and wanted to help others with something that had been my own struggle. Over the years of consulting, coaching, teaching and speaking on the topic my role evolved into what I referred to as a Life Simplification Strategist: meaning, organizing per se in my opinion was not really what it was all about—finding strategies for simplifying home and life was what people really needed and what I did. This is something I firmly believe in and incorporate into my daily life, though I no longer take on clients at this point. As I mentioned, I struggled with clutter and disorganization so it has been an ongoing effort to keep the focus and stay on top of things so that I can live my life with the order and organization I desire. There is absolutely a need for people to have strategies for simplifying various everyday aspects of life—both tangible and intangible. But one of the first things to realize is a super-secret special bit of knowledge that kick starts one’s ability to have organization in their home and life...I’m going to tell you what it is because I think everyone needs to know this, even though there are those who don’t want you to know. Ready for it? Here it is...get rid of half your crap! ;-) Seriously folks, we have too much stuff and many of us don’t even realize it. Most homes I’ve been to over the years were filled with approximately fifty percent (give or take) more stuff than they needed/used/wanted. Now there is some confusion these days when someone mentions “simplicity”. I am not necessarily talking about the voluntary simplicity movement here, I am talking about a level of personal simplicity that is something you can live with. For some folks that may be much less than others, it all depends. I only advocate simplifying things to the level you are comfortable with.

Clutter drives me crazy, as it does many of us. The trouble is we are living in an age and society that teaches us to have more, want more, and do more. It’s hard to combat this but when we don’t, we find ourselves unable to eat dinner at the table because it’s stacked with stuff, no where to put the groceries because the cabinets are already full, no place to prepare meals because the kitchen counters have papers and other junk covering it, embarrassed to have people over because all the surfaces are filled with clutter …the list goes on. Once we admit that there’s just too much it’s time to resolve to start eliminating and then putting those systems and strategies into play to deal with everyday tasks. That in a nutshell is heart of getting organized and simplified. But yes, it’s hard to do…hard to find the time, because well, we have lives!
It’s also hard to let go of the excuses:

“I paid good money for that!”
“I might need it someday”
“They don’t make ‘em like that anymore”

Yes, I’ve heard them all! One of my favorite excuses had to do with guilt. A lady at one of my seminars told the following story:

“Many years ago I took a sewing class and my project was to sew a sport coat for my husband. I went all out and bought the best material and spent a lot on this project. I really worked hard on this thing and was determined to make a wonderful sport coat. Well, the class eventually ended, the sport coat was still not done and sat unfinished in the hall closet. Life went on, months and then years went by and every time I opened the hall closet I felt guilt… guilt because my husband could have used that sport coat, guilt because I spent the money for the supplies, guilt because I took the class and never finished the project, and guilt because I just didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. I finally got tired of beating myself up over the whole thing and one morning I went to the closet to grab the coat, marched it out to the trash can and slammed the lid. I was finally free! And besides, I’d divorced that husband years ago anyway!”

This cracked me up! The things we do to ourselves! So, if we let go of the excuses, the guilt, and yes, about half the “stuff” we own we can focus on getting organized and simplifying our lives.
“Have in your home and life only things that provide necessary function, add true beauty, or bring genuine happiness. If something is more stressful than joyful, find a way to simplify it or eliminate it.”

1 comment:

mommeeof9 said...

My house needs someone with no emotional attachment to all the stuff in it to visit and help get rid of 1/2 or more of the stuff. We have papers of Hubby's form college in boxes in the attic, as well as pc's that do not work and are too old to bother fixing. Add in the furniture and tools hubby brought back from Florida when they cleaned out my MIL house to sell it. Plus the several bins of toys on the attic and scattered around the house. ARGH!

I'm home for 3 hours 2 mornings a week and 3 full days. I can barely keep the laundry and dishes done. I have no time or energy to try to sort stuff.