Top Ten Tips, #4 – Break It Down

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Today’s tip is about time.  Chunk your clutter clearing time down into manageable projects.  Looking at a whole room can seem overwhelming.  Looking at one drawer in one dresser doesn’t seem so impossible.

In our instant-gratification society, we want it…

…and we want it NOW.  

The slurry of TV shows about home organization, home make overs, hoarders, etc often make it look way simpler than it is.  Of course you don’t get to see all the sweat and labor that really happened over the course of days or weeks when it’s condensed down into 30-60 minutes.  Although I love the information that they give (most of the time), I feel these shows often give people a false impression of how much work is really involved.  Not that it can’t be done quickly if need be, but unless you’re in an emergency situation (such as you’re going to get evicted if you don’t get rid of a bunch of stuff by next week), there is great benefit to going about the organizing process a more slow-paced manner.

Too much change all at once can actually cause more problems.  Changes that happen slowly are easier for your physical and emotional bodies to adapt to.

If you were going to change your diet to eat healthier, trying to make positive changes in your physical body, you probably wouldn’t change everything all at once (most healthcare professionals usually don’t recommend it except in extreme circumstances). You may very well end up quite physically sick if you made radical changes your body couldn’t adapt to quickly enough.  In a healthier scenario, you’d probably start with say, adding more vegetables to your diet.  Then as your body adapted, you could make other changes like going gluten free or whatever else might be on your healthy eating list.

The same is true of changes in your emotional body too. If you change everything all at once, it can be a real challenge for your brain to remember where you moved everything. You have new systems, but you have so many new things to learn that your memory can go on overdrive and you may find you actually have a harder time remembering where things are than you did before! Give your mind some time to adapt to these new changes. Allow some time in between your sessions for your brain to learn where everything is now before you surge ahead….learn one new system at a time.

It’s okay to go slow!

How much time is enough?  Believe it or not, you can get a LOT done in 10-15 minutes, especially if you do 10-15 minutes multiple times per week.  But mostly, how much time you’re going to spend is going to depend a lot on how much time you have.  If you have two hours a week to work on organizing, do two hours a week.  If you’re too busy for that, you can start really small, for example with one kitchen drawer.  Most people can get through one kitchen drawer in 10 minutes.

One other trick I have found incredibly helpful is using a timer.  Most cell phones these days have this feature, so you probably don’t need to buy anything new (are you seeing a recurring theme here?).  Set your timer for 15 minutes before you want to be done organizing.  Usually 15 minutes is enough time to get everything picked up – donation boxes taken out, trash out, etc.  Be sure to allow yourself some time to clean up at the end otherwise you may just end up feeling frustrated because you made more of a mess for yourself to deal with.

Timers are also handy if you’re the time who tends to get “lost” when you’re clearing out your clutter.  You know, you’re looking though that box of high school memories and you remember when your friend and you were…. fill in the rest of your own story here.  You can set your timer to chime every 10-15 minutes or so as a reminder to yourself to stay on task.

Tip #4 Action Challenge

Decide how much time per week you want to spend on organizing.  Then take a look at your calendar and see how much you actually HAVE to spend on organizing.

Holistic Professional Organizer and Coach at Synergy Organizing, LLC

©Synergy Organizing 2012

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