So Squared Away

Avoid Clutter by Going Against the Norm

Nothing to Lose But Clutter


By Marlene Devine

We've all been there: standing in front of a project, wanting to start, but somehow unable to. You know what needs to be done and you know how to do it, but there's something stopping you. There may as well be an actual mountain between you and that organized closet. Perhaps it's the feeling of being overwhelmed by the perceived size of the project. Maybe you've convinced yourself that you're just not prepared enough to start. When you've bought baskets, or bins, or boxes, you'll be ready...and someday you'll buy them. When you've made room in the attic, you'll be ready...and someday you'll clean the attic. An even more likely scenario: you have no idea why you can't get that project done. You just can't. It's an invisible obstacle. Now, you can certainly work with a therapist to discover exactly what the obstacle is and why it's there, which may be very insightful, but a simpler and easier alternative is to try one or all of the following strategies and see if you finish the project. Nothing to lose but some clutter!

Strategy #1: Enlist help. Projects are easier and more pleasant when you have help. Ask a friend to help with one of your projects and offer to help that friend in exchange. You can both tackle your closet one weekend, and next weekend you return the favor. You can sort through your files while someone else shreds. It makes quick work of that file cabinet! Having someone to talk to and laugh with makes the job fly by, and dealing with someone else's stuff isn't as overwhelming as dealing with your own. It's like having lunch with a friend but some organizing got done!

Strategy #2: Take baby steps. Don't plan on finishing it all in one day. Make a plan to work a set amount of time, say 30 minutes, and start. How much time isn't important, the "start" part is key. Set a timer and do no more than that. It's a little easier to do something when you know there's an end in sight. Tomorrow set the timer again...and start again. Repeat until the job is finished.

Strategy #3: Call a professional. Professional organizers provide an objective outside perspective. They can motivate you to start with some creative ideas, be a cheerleader when you're losing enthusiasm, and keep you focused and on task. Having someone else "own" your project with you and is a great way to get it done!

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