Posts tagged ‘clutter’

December 9, 2013

Letting Go of the Clutter

snowy day

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

This was definitely the theme last weekend here in Dallas, and what a cozy weekend it was! Here in the south, it’s not often that a winter ice storm shuts down a giant city 3 weeks before Christmas, but that’s exactly what happened. So, I happily nestled in with my family to enjoy our respite from the bustle of life. I love being home, and I really love being home with no plans. So, I decided to make good use of this “found” time to finally go through some boxes that had been languishing in the corner of our guest room for almost 10 years (how is that even possible?!?).

So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

out of clutter

Do you find it hard to get rid of things, like I do? Have you ever wondered why it’s such a challenge? I realize that things are simply things, but for me, I suspect that my difficulty in clearing the slate has to do with my preoccupation with both the past and future. I regard the past with quite a bit of sentimentality, and while nostalgia can be good in small doses, one can be ensnared quite easily in yesteryear. On the flip side, I hang on to way too many papers, coupons, notes, articles from magazines, etc. in the very, very off chance I might need them in the future. Silly, right? What all this says to me is that I’ve been spending far too much time living somewhere else besides the present. And life moves quickly enough without me looking the other way all the time.

Moment of Clarity

To get through my clutter purge, I mainlined an epic number of What Not to Wear episodes from my TiVo while I worked, and a slow epiphany occurred. As I watched countless women emerge victorious at the end of their style transformations, I understood how these women had allowed clothes (and, by extension, their limiting beliefs about themselves) to hold them captive from living a glorious life in the present. I also realized that I had been defining myself unwittingly by my relics from the past stuffed so unceremoniously into the corner. Not surprisingly, I have my own collection of bad clothes that I am weeding through, so no judgment here, you lucky WNTW ladies!

Tips for Letting Go

i dreamed my whole house was clean

If you’ve had trouble making positive changes in your life and getting them to stick, ponder Einstein’s definition of insanity for a moment: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  So, if you want new and wonderful things in your life, stop doing what you’ve always done and try a different way already! Here are my tried-and-true tips for tackling emotionally loaded clutter and making room in your life for unexpected blessings:

1. Prioritize Your Clutter: Creating a priority list is a great, painless way to begin purging your home, office, or life, but here’s the key: you must leave the house to make this list. Go anywhere —your favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or do what John and I did—create this list when you are hundreds of miles away on vacation, far removed from the emotional pull of your home. This helps create the psychological distance you will need to make objective decisions about what goes and what stays (see Step 2).

2. Create Emotional Distance: Observe your clutter through impartial eyes, and keep your feelings about it tucked away. Are you able to make rational decisions about what to keep and what to let go of? If you are having trouble deciding how you feel, you can ask a compassionate but objective friend to help you. If you’re like me and you prefer to soldier it out on your own, create your own filter and run each item through before deciding (see Step 4). If this is too difficult, be gentle with yourself. Maybe you need to “sit” with the idea of what you want to get rid of. Give yourself time to mentally cull through the items in question without requiring immediate action. This is an amazingly effective way to cut ties gently. Heck, it only took me 10 years! J

3. Find Your Starting Place: Find one significant but doable place to start. If your home office is consuming you, don’t take on the whole room in a day. Pick one stack of boxes in a corner or one cabinet or a single drawer—you will be able to feel good about finishing something (anything!) and if after that, you feel good and are ready to handle more, you can move on to another doable cabinet.

 4. Run It Through the Filter: Some decisions about what to get rid of are easy or will become easier once you go through the previous steps. However, when you come upon something that you are having trouble with, run it through your filter: In my current life, does this item serve me? Does it belong in the life (room, wardrobe, statement) that represents me now or who I’m trying to become? Does it make me feel happy, radiant, beautiful, amazing, and powerful? If the item doesn’t fit, then it needs to go! Why in the world would you hold on to something that made you feel anything less than joyful? Important note: If your item is a cherished treasure, you don’t have to toss it. But if it doesn’t belong in your current, everyday life, you must find a place for it. Tuck it into a special memory box, along with other precious pieces, and you’ll love being able to reminisce eventually . . . after you have streamlined the rest of your closet.

Whether you decide to give away, donate, or trash the clutter in your life, now’s the time for you to claim the peace and power that comes from living mindfully and on purpose. You must make room for your life to grow abundantly into the spaces that were once piled up with stuff. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner for you and me—hold on a minute, let me just move this box out of the way . . .

Good luck!

Brooke

have nothing

August 26, 2013

The Fine Art of Getting Things Done

I get stuff done

Do you have trouble getting things done? I sure do! Some tasks I do just fine with, like scheduled appointments, work deadlines, and most daily minutiae. But that closet that needs to be cleaned out? Purging and reorganizing the files in my office? Cleaning out our dusty, spidery garage? Things that sound only slightly less fun than a root canal–those are the chores I put off. In fact, sometimes I put them off for so long that I become blind to their incessant, nagging existence (at least that’s what it seems like). But the psychological weight of clutter and Things To Do keeps my spirit weighed down and trapped, unable to truly enjoy the present because so much of my inner self is taken up with anxiety from these unfinished tasks.

So, when I find an opportunity to tackle these annoying stealers of joy, I usually have to get creative before I can get things done. Why I can’t just make a list and then power through it, I don’t know. I’m just wired differently. If you are list-challenged like me or if you want some new ideas on how to tackle the next big project, check out my favorite tricks:

1. What Hurts the Most? Relieve the Pressure

stress

When my to-do list is truly epic and things are so out of control that I become almost catatonic with it all, I stop and ask myself, What hurts the most? This is not physical pain I’m referring to, although if this type of pain is on the Crazy List, then of course it demands your attention. Out of the babble of chores, obligations, and distractions pulling at you, which pulls the hardest? Which must be done first out of them all? What is the most upsetting? Find THAT one, and ask yourself, What could I do about this task that would relieve the pressure? How could I breathe easier? What is one step I can take towards finishing this thing? Then do it immediately.

2. Change Your Scenery

This is one of my favorite ways to jumpstart creativity or just get some fresh air into a project that’s become stale. This trick is especially helpful if your task involves pondering, brainstorming, or other mental participation. You may not be able to get rid of your task, but you can try to put a different backdrop behind it. Years ago when I worked from home, I would often move to different locations around the house to help me slog through hundreds of pages that needed editing. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I would move outside or even to my favorite coffee shop, although this was always complicated by my need for a quiet stiller than the grave in order to work.

3. Bring a Little Magic

Mary Poppins was right!

Mary Poppins was right!

Do you remember this line from the Mary Poppins song: “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down . . .”? This maxim is a wonderful addition to your mental-health arsenal. I rely heavily on it when I have boring household chores to tend to. I find something that would add some joy and brightness to the often mundane tasks of washing dishes, sorting laundry, or even cleaning out the bathroom cabinets. You can do almost anything if you bring a little magic to it. Make a ceremony of time with your loved ones, just because. Combine your bummer activity with your favorite place (e.g., do your weekly budget at Starbucks).

iced coffee

My two secret weapons for coping with these dreary duties are 1) my favorite drink, usually involving caffeine, and 2) audio books. My favorite: Agatha Christie murder mysteries! Her books on tape (and CDs) have been my companions for many years, and I will cherish them forever. Even if your task is festive and fun (say, decorating for the holidays), adding some well-loved music and something to sip on makes everything cheerier.

4. Race the Clock

race the clock

When you find yourself in the midst of a chore and your motivation is grinding to a halt, race the clock! Kids love to race—against each other, against time, really anything. So can you. A little adrenaline goes a long way. Figure out a tight time limit, one that will put the squeeze on you. Then challenge yourself to finish XYZ before time’s up. It may sound childish, but hey, who cares? You’re the only one watching, and if it works, it works. Maybe you have a pile of laundry fresh from the dryer, and you are feeling lazy. If the TV is on, make a game of finishing your folding before the next commercial break. Whatever it is, find a slightly uncomfortable boundary of time to be done by, and GO!

These are just a few tricks that help me get through my to-do’s with minimal muss and fuss. Do you have some great ways you get your rear in gear? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Have a great (and perhaps productive) rest of the day!

Cheers, Brooke

July 22, 2013

Psychology of a Hot Mess, Part 1

011

Yep, that’s me alright. At least the “mess” part. Oh, the frustration my loved ones and innocent bystanders must deal with when I’m left to my own devices. If you happen upon me while I’m on the move (which is most of the time), I appear to be in control and with purpose. But let me linger for a while, and my true colors come trickling out. I’m a very free spirit who is organizationally challenged.

butterfly free spirit

This dysfunction extends from my time management skills to the clutter that surrounds me. If I try to impose a schedule or list on myself, an even deeper part of me rails wildly against it. I hate structure, but apparently I need it. Sometimes I manage to march to the beat of other people’s drums. Most of the time, however, my best intentions are left trailing behind me as I rush to the next thing, late and flustered again. And the sad part is that no matter how bright things seem to be, my guilt and self-recrimination are ever-present and heavy.

Budda time

Friends, that’s no way to live! Surely I’m not the only one who struggles with the mysteries and frustrations of time, clutter, and accomplishing goals. So, I’m doing things a little differently these days, and perhaps some of my discoveries will help you too!

A New Perception of Time

I recently found a great blog that stopped me in my tracks. The post described people as being either monochronic or polychronic in the way they perceive and manage time. A monochrone is someone who sees time as linear and absolute, is usually very punctual, is more task-oriented than relationship-oriented, and often focuses on only one thing at a time. Monochrones are the splendid folks you see actually getting things done (in an orderly fashion) who are banging their head against the wall as they wait for the polychrone to finish something . . . anything!

late girl

Is this you?

Then there’s the polychrone, someone for whom time is not linear but cyclical and fluid. These people tend to work on many things at once, are easily distracted, and are often late. On the flip side, polychrones are fabulous at handling change, switching gears, and cultivating strong relationships. Time means very different things to these two individuals, and as you can imagine, they often make each other crazy. If you are a polychrone trying to navigate in our monochronic world, there’s hope! Here are a few tips I can’t wait to try out:

1. Stop Thing #1 before beginning Thing #2: This seems like common sense, doesn’t it? But what blew my mind here was that the tardiness of polychronic people is not an inability to begin or arrive at Thing #2 but instead a difficulty with stopping Thing #1. (Stop and ponder that for a second.) While monochrones are adept at finishing a task or ending a social interaction in a timely manner, polychrones find endings uncomfortable and difficult. I always thought I was imagining this, but nope, it’s a real sensation.

SOLUTION: Rehearse your exit plan before arriving anywhere—what you will say to others when it’s time to leave or what time you need to pack up to leave before you absolutely must be gone.

 

2. Plan your schedule backward from appointments: This suggestion is also a new one for me. Polychronic people tend to think of time idealistically instead of realistically, imagining the best-case scenario instead of all the possible pitfalls.

SOLUTION: So, if you have a lunch date at 11:30, figure out going backward how long it will take you to get to the restaurant—if there’s traffic or a wreck. Then, how long will it take you to gather your belongings to get in the car? What about a trip to the restroom to touch up your lipstick? See what I’m getting at? Just a new way of thinking.

 

3. Set audible alarms or reminders to transition to the next task: This suggestion is a good one, though not foolproof. I’ve heard recommendations to set multiple reminders leading up to the time you absolutely, positively must jet, but if you are anything like me, I have so many reminders on my calendar dinging at me that they sometimes melt into white noise.

SOLUTION: Prioritize those noisy alarms and abide by them religiously. Also, if you have a trusted monochrone friend who you are meeting, you might ask him or her to (kindly) text or call you if you are even 2 minutes past time. To avoid possible lateness, you might even ask her to text you when she’s on her way to meet you (a built-in reminder!).

reality check

I’m feeling really excited about trying out these new ideas. I’m sure the people in my life are cautiously hopeful as well. And if you have any solutions that have helped you be an awesome time wizard, I’d love to hear them. In the meantime, good luck and I’ll be clearing out my home office—my husband is still stunned. 🙂 Catch you next week!

Brooke

January 11, 2013

So Many Books, So Little Space. . .

Love books part 2

Hi, there. It’s Brooke here. How many of you like to read? No, not just the latest Twitter feed or Yahoo entertainment news (don’t get me wrong—I like to know how fast Anne Hathaway’s pixie cut is growing out just as much as the next person), but really read? I’ve always adored reading, from my earliest memories of my dad reading to me at bedtime to present day, when I have at least 3 audio books in my car at all times. You know how naked you feel when you go somewhere without your purse or phone? I feel agitated and anxious unless I have reading material stashed close by, wherever I go. This would explain the many piles of books and magazines that follow in my wake. I know this book clutter is a problem, and I’m confident a psychologist would be able to dig out some juicy analysis of my inner failings from observing my daily interactions with these piles, but I do not care. Actually I do care, but that’s between the psychologist and me. Having my beloved books nearby comforts me and makes me feel secure that if the moment arrives in which an answer is needed, I can go directly to the most helpful resource and resolve the crisis—I mean, question.

Book room quote

I’ve tried to figure out why I have such trouble with accumulating and holding on to things. You may be like this too, but for me to do something uncomfortable, possibly painful, definitely not creative or fun, I have to know the reason why I should. I found this to be true even when dieting down for a fitness competition. Maybe it’s so I can Jedi mind-trick myself into accomplishing the troublesome task, but regardless, it’s how I’m wired. Several clues to why are as follows:

I crave Input, which is apparently a natural-born strength according to Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, authors of Now, Discover Your Strengths. This is a fascinating book popular in corporate management circles and among people seeking to understand themselves and others. I highly recommend it if you’re the sort who wants to maximize your potential and understand what makes people tick (http://www.amazon.com/Discover-Your-Strengths-Marcus-Buckingham/dp/0743201140/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y). To crave input means that you are intellectually curious and tend to collect things—not necessarily physical objects, but information such as found in books, quotes, random ideas, and lots of facts. You gather this information, stimulating your mind and storing it away, never knowing when it might be important at a later date. As you can imagine, this could swiftly lead to logistical problems for you and the people in your life if any of these “treasures” take up physical space. My husband has told me on several occasions that I have too many books and that I need to get rid of some of them. While I do consider this an offensive statement and an affront to me personally, I kinda agree. I once read an article about organizing the house—wait, I’m sure it’s around here somewhere—and it gave me the following advice: Freeing up your physical space from its clutter (books and other things) creates “psychic” space, or room for your spirit to expand and for new opportunities to come into your life. This sentence sounds just fantastical enough (and not too pragmatic, a.k.a. boring) for me to get my head around.

psychology

Also, as an INFP according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I’ve learned that I am a strong “P,” which stands for “Perceiving.” In the context of the Myers-Briggs test, Judging and Perceiving are the two ways people deal with their external world. When one is a “Judging” type, one tends to be gifted at closure, organization, and planning. This also means that these folks tend to make a decision and then move forward effectively. These are skills that I’m working on improving—they don’t come as naturally to me. When you are primarily a Perceiving type, you tend to be flexible, open, and relaxed with the world. You like to observe the world rather than order it and prefer to take in lots of information. A lack of closure is easily tolerated because with new information coming in all the time, one never knows when an important piece will come along and a decision will need to be changed and improved. I can’t explain why this is, but it seems to put words to the reasoning in my head. If you want to really get under your own skin and have a few hours to spare (once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop), go online to any number of sites to take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test or assessments very similar to it. Here’s a nice little intro into the science of Typing and you’ll find some links to free testing and great info as well (http://www.developandgrow.com/lifecoach/blog/free-on-line-myers-briggs-personality-tests/).

I hope you enjoy digging into your psyche and discovering some helpful things. You may just be amazed! Wish me luck as I clear up my psychic space and continue to self-diagnose my neuroses. Have a wonderful weekend!

~Brooke

January 2, 2013

Does Your House Need to Lose a Few?

Happy New Year! I’m sure you’ve all proclaimed your resolutions by now and I’m sure many of them include losing weight, but have you ever thought about getting rid of some of the weight around the house? I’m not talking about your extra pounds, but your home’s! Yep, almost every home has some excess baggage, or is bulging at the seams in one area or another.

It’s called CLUTTER!Declutter

I know my house will be making a drastic weight change in the next several months. A cluttered home can not only be frustrating,

it can be very stressful. Decluttering your home can seem overwhelming, but by taking small steps and making a few changes and getting the whole family involved your home can stay in tip top shape!Whether you have a few drawers, cabinets, a closet, a whole room—or your entire house!—here are some great tips I found for decluttering or to create good habits to keep your home at a healthy weight!

SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY!! is one of my resolutions for this year so I absolutely loved this acticle that I found by Minimalist, Joshua Becker. I thought it would be great to share with you to tighten the belt and shed some of those unnecessary pounds that your homes may have 🙂 I can’t wait to check out his book! “Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life”  Happy decluttering!! ~ Sandy 🙂

 

“The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

Many begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated around the idea of decluttering their homes. That’s too bad. The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, there are a variety of people who have come up with some pretty fun, creative ways to get started.

Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recommends 18 different 5-minute decluttering tips. Pick one today that sounds appealing. Or better yet, pick a random number 1-18, read the specific tip, and commit 5 minutes to completing it.

2. Give away one item each day. Colleen Madsen at 365 Less Things gives away one item each day. Over the past several years, she has experienced quite a transformation simply reducing her stuff one day at a time.

3. Fill one trash bag. Early in our journey towards simplicity, one of my favorite decluttering techniques was to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly I could fill it. While much of what I collected was trash, this could also be used to fill a bag for Goodwill.

4. Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

5. Make a list. Dana Byers recommends creating a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest… which doesn’t sound all that creative until she adds this note, “When you’re done with one area, STOP.” This list could be made as easy or difficult as you desire based upon what areas of your home make up the list (drawers/closets/rooms). And could easily fit into any schedule.

6. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and I… and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

7. Change your perspective. Unclutterer offers a powerful approach to decluttering when they offer a number of strategies to help you change your perspective and begin to notice some clutter you may have missed. Among their ideas: take photos of your house, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. With all of the examples, the hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.

8. Experiment with numbers. For example, Courtney Carver invented Project 333 to challenge people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. If 33 articles of clothing seems too little, adjust the rules as you need by picking a new number. The important thing is to challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment.

9. Use your imagination. Psychology Today recommends using your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.

10.The Four-Box Method. As we first set out on our journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in our home. As I set out to declutter an area, I brought four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room was placed into one of the four categories. No item was passed over. Each was considered individually. Some projects took an hour… others took days or weeks. But the technique and principles remained the same.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you.”