Trying to juggle work and family in one space can be overwhelming. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to complete everything that needs to be done. One debilitating result of a busy environment is clutter.
Cluttered surroundings affect us deeply, both mentally and physically. When we’re surrounded by disorder, we feel confused, drained, exhausted, and overwhelmed. We feel like we’ve got an avalanche hanging over our heads, ready to start the deadly slide at any moment. Who can work effectively in surroundings like these? Yet most of us do it day after day and wonder why we’re not as productive and efficient as we know we could be.
Neatness and organization seem to get pushed to the back of the list when we know we have more important things to do. Most of us are busy caring for the children and/or spouse, working on our jobs/businesses, running endless errands, and keeping up with recreational activities for the kids, spouse and ourselves. Who has time to organize?
However, tidiness is one thing that many of us can do RIGHT NOW to boost our business efforts. If I told you that keeping your workspace neat would virtually guarantee you a pay raise, would you be interested?
Cluttered surroundings dampen our enthusiasm, creativity and energy. Clearing away the clutter creates a harmonious atmosphere, so we feel energetic, happy, and peaceful – and therefore we are able to think more clearly, and get more done. Which, in most businesses and jobs, will equal more income (whether short term or long term).
Once most of us understand this, we go on a mission of organization. We clean, we fill trash bags with junk, we sweep, vacuum, and dust. Finally, we have a beautiful, clean desk! How long does that last? If you are like most of us, not too long. In no time at all, you’ve got piles of paper that need to be filed again, to-do lists, idea files and more, all balancing precariously near the edge of the desk. You’ve got sticky notes tacked up all over your monitor, cork board, printer (and even your forehead, if you’re particularly forgetful). What happened to our mission of organization? How did the clutter creep back in so quickly?
What most of us fail to understand is that clutter does not exist solely OUTSIDE of us. Our outer clutter is simply an extension of the inner confusion and chaos of our own minds. We feel overwhelmed, busy, stressed and rushed, so we don’t have time to focus on the “little details” of our lives. As our jumbled desks can testify, those little details add up to a lot when they are neglected for any length of time!
In order to permanently solve the clutter issue in our lives, we must first tackle the “jumbled thought syndrome” of our own minds. This is not a one-time task, however. It is an ongoing one that we must work on every single day. Consistent, small efforts will pay off in big ways. Think of it as maintenance, like showering. You wouldn’t go a whole month without showering, and then take 31 showers in one day, would you? You need to do it every day. Tackle your clutter and chaos in the same way.
Here are five tips to help you do just that:
1) Use a planner/notebook. This doesn’t have to be an expensive, leather-bound organizer unless that’s what you like to use. A lined, 6″x9″ spiral bound notebook works just as well and you won’t be afraid to mess it up with your scribbles. Have a “calendar” section, where you designate one page for each day’s activities. Write down appointments, work assignments, errands, and anything that needs to be done that day. Also have sections for ideas, future projects, goals and anything else that fits your business and family. This planner serves as a place to organize your ideas and tasks so they aren’t running rampant through your mind while you’re trying to be productive.
2) Spend 15-30 minutes DAILY picking up, putting things away, filing paperwork, and tidying your workspace. That seems like a big challenge when you’ve got so much to do, but small, consistent effort in this area will pay big dividends. The objective isn’t to be a “neat freak,” but rather to eliminate clutter and create a harmonious environment.
3) Beautify your workspace. Do a good cleaning once a week: vacuum, dust, wipe down your computer monitor, printer and the surfaces in your office. Then light a scented candle or some sweet-smelling incense to enhance the peaceful atmosphere. Buy some pretty flowers for your desk, or some inexpensive watercolor prints to hang on the walls. Making your workspace beautiful is one deterrent to being chronically messy.
4) Expect the Unexpected. Sometimes no matter how much we plan and prepare, things will come up that take us by surprise and force us to rearrange our whole schedule. When this happens (and it WILL), accept it. Do your best. The great thing about making consistent efforts to be organized is that surprises like this are no longer so overwhelming. When we’re already overwhelmed, the unexpected can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back! But when we’re on top of things for the most part, it becomes a little something we deal with and move on.
5) Take time to dream and think. Remember that clutter and chaos are the result of a confused, overwhelmed mind. We need time to ourselves to just think, be, and dream. It doesn’t have to be massive amounts of time, but at least 30 minutes a day. Get up a little earlier, or stay up a little later and just sit quietly, alone. Breathe deeply, empty your mind and enjoy the quiet. Some of our best ideas come from moments like these. Keep a notebook handy during your quiet time so you can jot down anything you don’t want to forget.
Understand that organization and tidiness are habits, just like chaos and clutter. If you want to change your business results, change your habits. New habits take time to fully integrate in our lives, but one bright day in the not-so-far-off future, we’ll realize that we’re going through the motions on autopilot. We did it, we conquered our clutter! Until then, just remember to breathe and take it one step at a time.
Keeping your home organized doesn’t have to be difficult. There are easy routine tasks you can incorporate into your day. No need to go out of your way. These tips can be added all at once or one at a time. Whatever works for you.
I’ve put together 7 daily habits that will help you stay clutter free. They are simple and easy to follow. An 8 year old can do it!
1. Make your bed.
A freshly made bed looks pretty and comfy! So inviting I’d say. You’ll be surprised how making your bed can put you on track for a productive day. There are studies done on this. Believe me it works! It should take you no more than 5 minutes to tackle this task. Easy peezy!
2. Deal with physical mail.
Ugh! Mail! I think most of us have the same thoughts on mail. We deal with it later. Well, later keeps piling up. Now you are drowning in flyers, envelopes, take-out menus etc.
Staying on top of incoming mail daily will help tremendously in controlling paper clutter. Get into the habit of dealing with the mail right away. As soon as you walk in the door from work, tackle it. Or, set an alarm on your phone for a specific time to deal with it. It is such an easy task, you won’t even notice you are doing it once it becomes part of your day.
3. Clear surfaces.
Having clear surfaces helps your space stay clutter free. It is also less distracting. I’m not saying have nothing on the surface, however, items that are, should serve a purpose. Like a coffee maker or a lamp on a sofa table. No one wants to see your undies on the kitchen table.
4. Do the dishes.
This is my one of my favorite habits to stick to. If you stay on top of doing the dishes, your kitchen will be less cluttered. Best time to do the dishes is in the evening. It should be part of your before going to bed routine. Get the kids involved too! Have them do a few dishes before they go to bed. Teach these habits when they are young.
5. Put things back right away.
This one is really important. The reason our homes get so cluttered is because noting is being put back where it came from. As soon as you are done with something, put it back! This will help greatly in keeping your space clutter free.
6. 10 minute tidy up
This habit is very rewarding! You only need 10 minutes. Or, 15 minutes if you feel ambitious.
Before you hit the sack, take 10 minutes to do a once around. Meaning, walk around your main living areas and pick up things that don’t belong. Put them away. Give items to the owner to put away. This is your husband, wife, kids, or anyone else living in your house. In the morning, you will be rewarded with a clutter free space.
7. Create a donation box.
In my opinion, every household needs a donation box. During our lifetime, we need and don’t need different items that suit our lifestyle.
Ten years ago you were on the bowling team. Today, you no longer bowl. You still have that bowling ball tucked away in the back of the closet right? Well, toss it in the household bin you created. It can be just a plain cardboard box or something pretty. It’s up to you what you use. It’s the function and intention that is important. Having a bin helps cut down the clutter.
Once a week, or monthly, you can schedule a time to take it to local charity organization you support. Win, win!
Implement these tips into your daily routine. Try one at a time or all at once. You’ll notice the clutter stays to a minimal. Less clutter means more time to enjoy life.
If you need help with these tips, you know where to find me.
On your journey to be clutter free and organized, you'll have to make decisions about your belongings, and create “homes” for the items you decide to keep. This can be overwhelming for some people. A professional organizer can help create customized systems and solutions for you and your family. If you need a support buddy to help make decisions on what items to keep and what items to let go of, a pro can be that for you.
Professional organizers dedicate themselves to methodology and psychology of organizing. This type of dedication means that they know what works, what doesn’t, as well as any products or systems that are new to better assist their clients. They take the time to understand your emotional and physical organizing needs. They may also help you work through deep emotions tied to your stuff.
Organizers can help you gain control of your space, reduce clutter, improve your quality of life, and streamline any systems you already have in place.
Many people say that anyone can organize. But the truth is, not everyone has the skill set to do so. Receiving help from an organizer is no different than getting help from a fitness trainer, an accountant, a lawyer, a landscaper or even a baker to make that amazing birthday cake you've always wanted.
You may have a vision or goal for your space but don't know where to start. An organizer can help you obtain that goal and create the vision.
Need a handyman or a moving company? Pro organizers have a stash of resources up their sleeves. Feel free to ask them if they know other types of professionals. Most likely they have a contact for what you need. Junk pick up, donation drop off, plumbers, painters and the list goes on.
Professional organizers are coaches, teachers and sometimes counselors. They do not judge, they have compassion, they listen, encourage and educate. Best of all, they love to organize! They also make it fun and exciting! Play dress up and dance around!
If you are still not sure why to hire a professional organizer, contact me, owner and creator of Clutter Me Free. I would be happy to chat with you.