If I could give clients one thing to think about when it comes to creating a clutter free life, I would ask them to reflect on this:
“Every possession is a responsibility.”
This simple statement explains why you can easily feel overwhelmed when you look around your home. What you’re seeing isn’t just your stuff, and it’s not just clutter either – you are looking at responsibilities. Each possession – not matter how small - is a responsibility in and of itself.
There is irony here – we so often think that acquiring something new will make us feel good. We equate having things, especially certain things, with success. We think feeling successful will lead to fulfillment. What a slippery slope that is. But we don’t realize it until we have lost our balance and fallen into the cluttered depths. Suddenly we are drowning in responsibilities and that feeling of fulfillment is no where in sight.
Now you might be thinking that I believe acquiring things is bad. I can understand how you could make that leap. To clarify, I think mindless acquisition is dangerous. I believe thinking that owning a certain item will lead to happiness is misguided. Things don’t create happiness – the feelings of happiness, success, and fulfillment come from within. This is why you have have to be mindful in acquiring new possessions. It’s so easy to try to fill voids with stuff.
The bottom line: Each item we allow into our lives requires some degree of time and energy. More stuff means more effort. That means you will have less available for the people and pursuits that are important to you. It’s that simple – you only have so much time and energy. If you spend it on maintaining possessions, you will have less to spend elsewhere.
The next time you consider allowing a new object into your life ask yourself whether you’re really willing to take responsibility for that item. If you don’t truly need it, or absolutely love it, why would you want to take responsibility for it?
Possessions should always reciprocate by providing value. Things that require more from you than they give back aren’t serving you well. Think of it like an investment – if you aren’t getting a good return then you need to let the item go.
In theory this should be easy, but in reality it can be a challenge to let go of perfectly good things. Here’s something to help ease the discomfort – whatever you let go of frees up space in your life for something even better. What will your something better be?
The New Year is here and resolutions have been made. Change is on the horizon. We’re on the cusp of a new reality – woo! hoo! Sounds exciting and rewarding, right? Wrong. At least it will be wrong for most people. Only about eight percent of resolutions made will ever be realized. While that’s sad, it’s not unexpected. Most people put more thought into deciding what kind of pizza to order than they do in setting resolutions. So, if you are serious about creating change this year, here’s what you need to know…..
Three critical elements for are needed for making resolutions that stick. The first is true desire – you must have an authentic, obstacles-be-damned, lusting ambition to make your resolution a reality. It cannot be something you think you ‘should’ do. And it can’t be something someone else wants you do – it must be something you truly want. Yes – you! Not your husband, not your wife, and definitely not your mother. Resolutions made to please other people mean you’re in for a big ‘ole heaping portion of resentment! With a side of failure to boot. This is no time for people pleasing – resolutions are for you. They might benefit those around you, but they’ve got to be yours to start.
Once you’ve figured out what you want, you need to define why you want to make it happen – again this must why YOU want it to happen, not why you think you ‘should’ want it happen ( I loathe ‘shoulds’ – they just suck the joy out of life). There is a fine but very important distinction here. You need to be crystal clear on what your motivation really is.
Let me explain this a bit – let’s suppose you are one of the many people who have decided you’ll resolve to workout more often. Why do you want to do that? Lots of people are going to say it’s for health reasons. And for some of them that may be true. But for a lot of people being healthy is just not going to cut it as a primary motivating factor. For a lot of people, looking good is what they really want. They want to feel sexy, fit into skinny jeans, or rock a a little black dress at their college reunion. Despite the fact that we are a looks obsessed society (ugh), most people aren’t going to fess up to wanting to look good, because they feel it would too vain to admit that’s why they’re going hit the gym. And that means they never get in touch with their real motivation, which is a huge mistake. Be honest with yourself about why you want to make your resolution a reality and you’ll exponentially increase your chance of success.
If you are going to be one of the eight percent who are successful in achieving your resolutions you must get crystal clear on your why. Because when the going gets tough, it’s your why that will motivate you. If your why isn’t absolutely compelling you’ll be out of luck, so dig down and get clear on why you want you want you want. This is no time for bs-ing yourself (truth: there is never a time for that).
FYI – The easiest way to gain clarity is by creating a vision statement – it’s easy to do, it’s fun and you wind up with an incredibly powerful tool. If you need help with this feel free to be in touch. I’ll send you a how-to.
I said there were three critical elements – we’ve covered two – the what and the why. The third critical element is the plan. Yup – you need a plan. Without a plan you’re going nowhere fast. A plan is your map – it will guide you to success. After all, you’re going to place a you’ve never been, so directions are going to a big deal. Without them the journey is going to be a toughie. Here’s a quick guide to get you in a planning mindset: Five Steps To Reach Your Goals.
Let’s make 2014 one to remember! And if you feel like you might want a little more guidance – check out the Less Stress, More Joy – Create a Life You Love Workshop - it’s an expert guided online workshop that will help you clarify your goals and reach them quicker than you ever imagined, plus you’ll learn how to clear the clutter and create room for what truly matters.
The easiest way to jump start the clutter clearing process is by harvesting the low hanging fruit first. We all have low hanging fruit, it’s the stuff that’s obviously past its useful life - the stuff that’s broken, old, outdated or no longer used.
Start your harvest by taking a walk through your house and toss/recycle whatever is obviously rubbish. You might think I am being presumptuous in assuming you have some garbage and/or junk lying around. But based on my experience almost everyone does (including yours truly – a couple of empty boxes have been hanging in my office for days, last months New Yorkers still linger in the magazine basket, I could go on, but you get it, we all have some low hanging fruit and I must go on a harvest as soon as I’m done posting this!).
Low hanging fruit is even more likely to exist when you have excess clutter, because junk easily blends into the cluttered landscape. Now let me be clear here, I am not suggesting anyone would purposely toss garbage around their home. I mean things like the broken beyond repair umbrella that’s been sitting in the hall closet forever, the remote that powers nothing since you upgraded to the universal gadget, last week’s newspapers, the sneakers your dog chewed just enough so that are no longer wearable. You should be able to dispose of these things with ease since it’s highly unlikely they will hold any real emotional attachment. So, what are you waiting for? Go on a harvest right now!
Clutter Quick Tip
We all have some clutter in our lives – it may be in our physical space, our head or our heart. What’s one thing can you let go of right now? Imagine what would happen if you just let go of one thing a day – that would be 365 things in a year!
I challenge you to say goodbye, right now, this minute, to just one thing. What’s not serving you well? What’s an irritation? What have you tripped over a hundred times and still not picked up? What’s hanging out that simply reminds you it was a less than stellar purchase? Let it go!
Do you know what it’s like to have just what you love, need and use? It’s balance, it’s simplicity, it’s elegance. Strive for that and you won’t regret it!
Do you have goals you have yet to get started on? I know I do – some are big and lofty, some just seem big. That’s why I am embracing the Japanese Kaizen philosophy of slow, continuous improvement. I certainly espouse the virtues of the philosophy to my organizing and time management clients, so I am taking my own advice. Couple Kaizen with eating your elephant one bite at a time and you have the perfect recipe for overcoming the negative inertia that keeps us from moving forward. That is, break your goals into bite sized chunks, be consistent in applying effort, evaluate progress, make changes if needed, and be prepared to see your goals achieved.
Here in the northeast fall is fast approaching and somehow that feels like a good time for setting new goals. Spring has that effect on me too. It’s really about the transitioning of the seasons, they’re a natural time to reassess what’s working well and what’s not. How can we be serving ourselves, our families and our communities better? How can we live everyday a little more authentically and spend more time focusing on the things that really matter? These questions are loaded, no doubt about that, but if we ask them with open minds and open hearts the answers are practically guaranteed be profound.
I believe we all deserve to live well, to really, truly enjoy our lives. And it doesn’t take buckets of money. You don’t have to wait until your next big promotion, meet your ideal partner or find the perfect house. Stop obsessing about what you don’t have (yet), focus on what you do and make the most of it. Notice the parenthetical yet. It’s there because I am not suggesting that you give up on having what you desire. You should have what you want, but if you’re focused on what you don’t have, you probably aren’t making any headway toward realizing your goals.
What I suggest is that you take a look at your life and pick one area you would like to feel better about. Maybe you want more work/life balance. Perhaps you just want to share more family dinners. Or maybe you have a big dream, one you have yet to take action on, like starting a business or running a marathon. Whatever your issue, it’s time to eat the elephant.
Big goals can be overwhelming. Worrying about how we will ever reach them can be paralyzing. But if we break goals down into little bites we can see that each piece is very manageable and the overwhelm should naturally dissipate. In breaking goals down we also gain clarity – it’s easy to identify what the next action needs to be.
Are you ready to embrace Kaizen living? Use the Goal Setting Worksheet to break your overall goal down into bite sized pieces and start eating your elephant!
Little bites on a daily basis will take you places you can only imagine in this moment, but before long what you imagined will be your new reality. As least it will be if you dare to take the first bite!
We are well into 2012. I know many people made a resolution to get organized when we turned the calendar some six months ago. I may be biased, but I think it’s the best resolution anyone could have made. Organization supports us in so many ways. Being organized plays a huge role in just about every aspect of our lives.
Sadly, there are plenty of people who see getting organized as practically unattainable. Most just give up on their goal way too soon. Why is that? I think we can, at least in part, blame it on the organizing myths in circulation. These myths cause us to believe that getting organized is much more difficult than it actually is. They become seemingly insurmountable hurdles and essentially prevent us from even beginning the organizing process. And yes, getting organized is a process, it’s not a one time event. But the effort is so worth it! Save money, save time, create space, enjoy peace of mind – now, who doesn’t want that?
Let’s bust a few of the most widely believed myths right now:
I don’t have time.
The truth, you actually gain time by being organized. Being disorganized causes you to spend more time looking for things. It plays havoc with your schedule. A lack of organization means you are more likely to miss appointments and misuse your time. If you decide to get organized you will be making an investment that will pay you back every day. For every minute you put into getting organized, you will reap an exponentially large return.
It’s too expensive.
The truth, you actually save money by being organized. And it doesn’t necessarily have to cost anything to get organized. People tend think they have to buy expensive storage products, but organizing isn’t about the products. Organizing is about having more time to do the things you really WANT to do, and being able to get the things you have to do done efficiently. Sure, you may need certain storage, but you can easily re-purpose what you already have. The outcome, while it may not be as pretty, will be just as functional. The bottom line, being organized saves you money – no more duplicate purchases, no more late fees, and so much more. Organization allows you to budget and manage your money in a prudent, responsible manner.
I don’t have enough space.
The truth, you actually create space when you organize. Getting rid of clutter alone will begin to open up space. Designating permanent and practical homes for your possessions will open up more space. Most people have enough space, they just aren’t using its full potential. Vertical space is often untapped. Think about all the ways you can add storage to your walls. The are so many possibilities. Reconfiguring the storage you already have can also make a huge difference. For example, a chest of drawers makes fine storage for paperback books or dvds. Just place the items perpendicular to the bottom of the drawer so you can see the titles. It’s just one of many ways to maximize space.
It doesn’t work for me.
The truth, you can, you just haven’t found the right system. Organizing systems abound and there is no one size fits all. Your personality needs to be taken into account. So do your unique needs and your lifestyle. You will know you are on to something good when it feels natural. That’s doesn’t mean it won’t take effort, but the effort shouldn’t feel like it’s countering what’s intuitive. As long as it makes sense to you that’s all that matters. Don’t worry about what you think you ‘should’ be doing, do what feels right. Trial and error is often part of the process. Think about it in terms of buying jeans. You have to try on a number pair before you find something that fits and feels good. Finding the right organizing system is similar, you may have to try a variety to find the one that feels just right.
The choice to get organized is yours, don’t let a myth derail you. You can do it regardless of the time you have, the amount of your bank balance or the size of your space. If you truly want to get organized but haven’t started, ask your self why. If you have been using any of these myths as your excuse for not getting organized, you need to realize that they are no longer valid reasons for not moving ahead.
If you want to get organized, but you are feeling overwhelmed by the process, be sure to get my free Clear Clutter & Get Organized E-Course. It walks you through the six steps of my ESCAPE method.
If clutter has you down, then you definitely need to check out Clutter Control 101. It’s about addressing the root cause of your clutter and learning how to let go of ‘stuff’. If you are ready to say goodbye to clutter forever, this workshop is guaranteed to help you make it happen.
8 Ways To Boost Your Productivity
While your co-workers start every day enjoying a cup of coffee together in the break room, you’re barely able to find time to call your doctor. While they’re taking lunches, you’re rushing through another meal at your desk. Sound familiar? Here’s the good news: This apparent discrepancy may not mean you’ve got a bigger workload or that you’re a harder worker. Instead, it may mean that they’ve mastered certain time-saving skills and habits that you haven’t—until now. From prioritizing your workload to learning which projects don’t need to be perfect, read on to discover eight workplace habits that’ll boost your productivity and lower your stress levels.
Have you decided it’s time to declutter?
Are you overwhelmed by the process? Maybe you’re on the brink, thinking you should get started but wondering if it’s possible. Well, it is possible. More than that, if you are motivated to create change it is highly probable that as you clear the clutter you will find life becomes better and better. Read on for a real life decluttering project progress report that is sure to motivate. And if you’re stuck in the clutter muck be sure to check out the Clutter Control 101 Workshop.
Decluttering Progress Report From Jane E. Brody
In a column last fall, I announced my intention to rid my home and myself of a half-century of accumulated “stuff” — everything from papers, books, clothing and shoes to packaging material and shopping bags. I’m happy to report significant progress.
Scores of old files, letters and mementos have been recycled. Bags of books, clothes, coats, shoes and linens have been donated to charities. New and hardly used kitchen equipment has been given to those who need it more than I do.
A decision to re-carpet three of the most cluttered rooms in my house forced me to move — and remove — hundreds of long-unused items. I replaced oversized and impractical furniture and containers with smaller, more useful items less likely to become reservoirs of dust and clutter.
Continue reading here: Progress Report on a Decluttering Project – NYTimes.com.
Want To Be More Productive?
I bet you do! We all want to be more productive, right? We all want to get things done. We all want to make things happen. So why don’t we just do it? It’s a common conundrum. You have a great idea and you want to make it a reality, but you get stuck. Well, you’re in luck, help is here. Take a lesson from creative types and break free of productivity paralysis.
Here are 10 laws of productivity we’ve consistently observed among serial idea executors:
1. Break the seal of hesitation.
A bias toward action is the most common trait we’ve found across the hundreds of creative professionals and entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed. While preparing properly as you start a new project is certainly valuable, it’s also easy to lose yourself in planning (and dreaming) indefinitely. We must challenge ourselves to take action sooner rather than later. The minute that you start acting (e.g. building a physical prototype, sharing a nascent concept with your community), you start getting valuable feedback that will help refine your original idea – and move forward with a more informed perspective.
2. Start small.
When our ideas are still in our head, we tend to think big, blue sky concepts. The downside is that such thinking makes the barrier to entry – and action – quite high. To avoid “blue sky paralysis,” pare your idea down to a small, immediately executable concept. Can you trial the idea of a multi-day festival with a smaller performance series? Take an idea for a skyscraper and model it in miniature? Work out the flow of an iPhone app by sketching on paper? Once you’ve road-tested your idea on a small scale, you’ll have loads more insight on how to take it to the next level.
The first step in getting clutter under control is to discover why you have clutter to begin with.
By uncovering the root cause you will create an awareness that will help you clear and control your clutter for the long term. It’s important to take some time to think about why you have clutter and where it comes from. Remember clutter isn’t only a physical manifestation, clutter can also be invisible. The clutter in your head and heart is just as damaging, if not more so, than the material clutter.
Where does your clutter come from? Does it stem from:
Feeling overwhelmed? (Are struggling with even knowing where to begin? Maybe it’s because you have so much stuff or maybe because you just don’t know what to do. Are you over-committed, unable to say no? Or maybe you don’t know how to say no.)
Physical limitations? (Have you been injured or do you suffer from a chronic illness?)
Emotional avoidance? (Are you holding onto and perhaps living in the past by holding onto ‘stuff’? Maybe you are fearful of the future, afraid you will make an unwise decision so you choose to make no decisions? Are you afraid that you’ll lose memories of someone or something if you get rid of associated physical objects?)
Mental exhaustion? (Are you drained because your mind is being stretched beyond its limits? Maybe you have a work load that is extremely burdensome or perhaps you are dealing with a family crisis.)
Lack of time? (This is usually a side affect of all the other reasons. Lack of time is almost always attached to another issue. It’s also possible you may not know how to make the most of your time so it seems like you have no time.)
Resistance? (Do you just not want to take care of things right now? Maybe you are caught in a situation where you are being pressured to get organized so you avoid action on purpose, no matter the cost. Maybe you are just a rebel at heart.)
Compulsive shopping and /or accumulation? (Are you buying, taking or accepting more than you can use and need? Do you fear lack? Or maybe all that shopping and accumulating fills an emotional need.)
Procrastination? (Again this issue can stem from any of the others. But frequently it comes from a perfectionist mindset. The quest to be perfect can keep the best of us stuck for a very long time.)
Awareness is the first step in creating a clutter free life. Are any of these root causes yours? Once you identify the cause of clutter in your life, you can work to keep clutter from reappearing in your home. Keep in mind there may be multiple causes, often that is the case. I know it would be easier if there were only one, but take heart, the multiple causes are usually linked in some manner. By addressing one you will most likely will be addressing them all. The domino effect is will take place.
Now the big question is are you ready to create change once you identify the cause of your clutter? (If you are be sure to check out Clutter Control 101. It’s an online workshop that will take you through the entire decluttering process step by step. While you are there sign up for the free organizing tips.)