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 We all have low hanging fruit, it’s the stuff that’s obviously past its useful life - the stuff that’s broken, old, outdated or no longer used.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!
Have you ever been so overwhelmed by something that you can hardly see the forest for the trees? That burdened feeling makes you think you will never get through whatever you are dealing with. It may be a huge project at work, the kind that will make or break your career. It may be getting through a family crisis, the type where you can’t check out, not even for a moment . Or it might just be getting through an afternoon with sick kids - did I just hear someone scream mommmyyyy?
When you get to that place – the seriously overwrought, OMG I have so much to do I can hardly stand it, help me now place – remember this, you don’t have to figure it all out right this minute. You only have to identify the next action you need to take. That’s it. Don’t think about the end game. Don’t think about how much more you have to do. Just think about the very next step. Identify that single action and take it. Then repeat as needed. How simple is that?
This is the complete opposite of big picture thinking. Here you are narrowing your focus so you can avoid the distraction that comes from a to-do list a mile long and all the siren calls for attention. You aren’t avoiding life though. You are just helping yourself move forward in a deliberate way. Sometimes blinders are necessary. When overwhelm sets in they can come on very handy. Why do you think horses wear them? So they don’t get distracted and scared. If that were to happen they would immediately go off course, losing their way and wind up in deep trouble.
I see this technique as a tricky little way to keep making progress even when I am feeling that I will never get it all done. By narrowing my focus to the present, I can avoid the crazy making that comes from being overwhelmed. Try it yourself the next time you feel paralyzed by all the things on your plate. I can practically guarantee you will feel better and see progress.
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!
Here’s a question to ponder….how is clutter keeping you stuck? Have you ever wished for a little more energy or a little less stress? If anyone says no, I’m going to have question whether you’re actually from this world. We all want more energy. We all want less stress. And more time to do the things we WANT to do would pretty terrific too, right?
A little while back I wrote about reclaiming time and energy. Guess what the secret was? Clear the clutter and get rid of the excess stuff! Read about it here, and let me know how you think clutter and excess stuff blocks us.
If you haven’t signed up for the free ESCAPE Clutter E-Course, you can do so here. It walks you through the clutter clearing process in six simple steps!
They want more time.
And almost universally they want more energy to go with that time. We try all kinds of tactics to make both of those desires part of our reality. We over-plan and over-schedule ourselves. We multitask to the max. Then we dose ourselves with caffeine until we get so jittery we can no longer concentrate on even the simplest task. We read the latest and greatest time management books hoping we will find the perfect solution somewhere in the pages. We trick ourselves into believing that sleep is a luxury we can afford do without.
Guess what? There is an easier way to add minutes to your day and get an energy bump to boot.
Are you ready? It’s so simple it’s going to blow your mind.
Get rid of stuff.
What’s that you say – Get rid of stuff?! But I love my stuff.
I can hear that sentiment being echoed loud and clear. But here is the real deal, you do have stuff you love and that’s as it should be. However, you also have stuff you don’t love – stuff that doesn’t serve you well, adds no value to your life and doesn’t contribute to you reaching your goals. That’s the stuff you should get rid of. We call that stuff clutter. Clutter can be big or clutter can be small. Clutter is anything that doesn’t provide support to us. Clutter should not be in our space. I would be willing to bet there is a significant amount of clutter in your space.
You might wonder why I would bet on something sight unseen. Well my experience in these matters is quite broad. I have yet to work with a client who didn’t have loads of stuff that could be let go of without any negative consequences. We acquire things in such a variety of ways that it is virtually impossible to ask ourselves the important questions before we become the steward of each and every item. (If you are unsure what the important questions are drop me a lineand I will get them off to you. Or you can check out this post on controlling clutter for good.)
So let’s get back to my suggestion. Get rid of stuff. Why am I am saying this? Because, by its very nature, stuff demands our time and energy. Specifically how this works is quite simple. Stuff takes up space. A cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind. A cluttered mind leads to stress. Stress takes energy. The energy it takes is nonproductive. Do you really want to spend any of your time being nonproductive? I doubt it, especially since the goal is to free up more time.
Seeing things you no longer love or things that conjure up guilt is just as bad. Looking at things that create less than desirable feelings is not healthy. It just leads to more stress and wastes more energy.
Stuff also costs energy and time more directly. Time to put away and time to care for. When you have too many things you have to work around them in some capacity and that causes time to be wasted.
I would challenge you to let go of five things over the next five days. See how it feels to free yourself from a little bit of energy sapping, time stealing clutter.
If you are ready to jump start the clutter clearing process be sure to check out Clutter Control 101 – it’s an online workshop that will take you through the decluttering process and start you on the path to organized living.
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.
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 complimentary Guide to Organized Living.)
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is officially here. And, so is the stress that accompanies it. Ugh! Most people enjoy the season, but no one enjoys trying to manage holiday stress.
There are so many expectations associated with the holidays. It’s no wonder stress levels rise dramatically during this time of the year. There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, parties to host, family to visit, elaborate meals to prepare, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Decorations are expected, there’s all that baking to do, cards have to be sent and charitable causes want your time.
It can be positively exhausting unless you are prepared with a plan to manage it. What’s that? You don’t have a plan? Never fear. Here are five tips that will help you manage holiday stress:
Decide what you value about the holidays. Before making any plans, before accepting invitations, or before doing anything just because you’ve always done it, think about whether it is in alignment with your values. It’s a simple exercise that guarantees you will not find yourself in a situation you resent. Make this year the one you start making thoughtful decisions surrounding what you commit yourself to. Give yourself absolute permission to do only what you truly want to do. If you just follow one tip, make this the one. It will make all the difference.
Do not procrastinate. Waiting until the last minute to purchase gifts, make travel plans, or even buy ingredients for your holiday meals is an invitation for frustration. Make a list of all the things you must do and buy. Schedule time each day to take care of the to-do’s and the shopping. What this means is that you must commit a specific time in your day to take care of these things. An unscheduled task will not get done. Procrastination feeds stress, avoid it at all costs.
Reexamine your expectations. This is particularly true as it relates to family interactions. If you are expecting only Norman Rockwell moments, you will more than likely be let down in a big way. Take a minute and evaluate your mind picture. Are you imagining family members as you wish they were or are as they are? If it’s the former, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. You have two options. You can distance yourself from the relatives that drive you mad, or you can take a deep breath, look past the crazy making behavior and focus on what’s good. This isn’t to say you should accept abuse or meanness. But, all families have a history and if we continue to let past transgressions color the present, or focus only on the negatives we may as well give up on successful interactions. If you get into a situation where you find yourself feeling bad because things aren’t going quite how you imagined, reassess your expectations – were they realistic? Remember, you can’t control other people’s behavior, but you can control your reaction to it. Decide ahead of time that you will focus on what’s good, not what’s bad. That’s kind of thinking will stop stress in its tracks.
Expect delays and lines where ever you go. Remember, everyone is doing the same thing you are. No matter where you go you are guaranteed to have lots of company. The holidays are peak travel times, so airports will be congested. Shopping malls will be packed. And, the post office will be busier than ever.
Realize that what might normally take 40 minutes, say a trip to the grocery store, could now easily take fifty percent longer, if not twice as long. First of all, plan accordingly by padding your schedule with a time cushion so you don’t get frustrated. Next, surrender to the moment. Having a bad attitude won’t make the line go faster, all you’ll do is raise your blood pressure. If you are calm and centered, those around you are likely pick up on that. Think of it as passing on good holiday karma, you’ll be doing everyone a favor.
So, what can you do in a long line to make it bearable? A multitude of things.
- Chat it up with your line mates. You never know who you’ll meet. You may make a business connection, learn about a great restaurant or make a new friend. At the very least, you’ll stretch your comfort zone and practice your conversational skills.
- Read a book or magazine. Yes, you can. A paperback book or magazine can be stashed in a purse or a jacket pocket.
- Have a smart phone? You can catch up on news or read email. (But, please don’t call someone and engage in a loud discussion. That’s just rude.)
- Got kids in tow? Why not play a brain game, like 20 Questions or I Spy.
- Try isometric exercise. They are so easy to do. You know the routine; flex, hold, release. No one will notice and won’t it feel good to get a little exercise in?
Practice gratitude. If you are reading this, it is very likely that you have much to be grateful for. You may not have everything you want and things may not be perfect, but we all have many things we can be very thankful for. My list includes super supportive parents, a responsible daughter who never ceases to amaze me, a pet who gives me unconditional love, my faith, my friends, and awe inspiring Mother Nature. I could go on and on. There are so many things that make me smile. Think about what’s right in your world and thank God, the universe, or whoever you want, for all that you do have. At this moment, I am thankful that I get to write about making the the holidays less stressful. Just the fact that I can physically type these words and see them on the screen is more than enough to make me feel an incredible amount of gratitude!
For more help with managing holiday stress, check out The Less Stress, More Joy Holiday [Un]Workshop. It will help you maintain your sanity, and the tips and techniques I’ll be sharing can be applied year round. Start using them now and be ready to welcome 2012 with new habits already in place that will help you get organized, keep stress at bay and allow much more joy in!