In her book, Organize Your Life and More, Christina Scalise said, “Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.”
I totally agree with this. I think that to be organized, one should make decisions, sometimes quickly. Sometimes painfully. To get rid of your clutter, or to get more organized, I suggest you take one of these ten actions.
Okay, so organizational tips don’t have anything to with writing directly. But we are more than just writers, we are parents, employees, adult children and citizens. Staying organized is good for us.
Here are 10 decisive moves that will help you get organized:
Make a decision. START The act of starting has power. Even if the idea intimidates you, set a timer for 10 minutes. Even if that’s too much, start with five.
Pick the most obvious thing. Maybe it’s all the trash all over the floor. Maybe it’s the big stock pot that’s been soaking in your kitchen sink for days. Maybe it’s the clothes thrown everywhere. If you work on that one thing for ten minutes, you will see a DRAMATIC difference. Because it was the most obvious thing, and you dealt with it, then it’s gone. You’ll be energized to do more.
Make a tidy list, but don’t make it too long. Say, no more than five things. Then tackle an area of your house for 5-10 minutes. You will be amazed at what can get done in such a short time.
Divide and conquer. If you have to clean out your garage, for example, the wrong thing to do is think, “THE GARAGE!” You’ll be so discouraged that you won’t make a move to do anything. Instead pick one manageable task in the garage, like gather the recyclables. That’s it. When that’s done, go for the trash. Then stack those bins. I’d even suggest that if you work in the garage for 10-30 minutes a day, you’ll see significant progress and you’ll be motivated to do more.
“You’re the boss of clutter, not the other way around.”
― Monika Kristofferson
Think fast. Everything you touch needs to have a decision about it. Don’t pick it up if you don’t know where it goes immediately. Those 2 year old magazines that you never will get the articles from? They go in the recycling big. Let’s be honest, everything you need in life is on the internet. That birthday card your Aunt sent you last summer? Put it in the recycling bin too. The space it’s taking isn’t worth it and your feelings for your aunt won’t change if you throw it out. That broken refrigerator magnet? Throw it out. You don’t need a project.
Simplify your paper. Go paperless as much as you can with bills or other monthly activities. Create only one calendar that the family uses. Cancel those subscriptions you don’t read anyway. Keep a trash can and recycling bin near where you sort the mail, so it can go from your hand to either a to-do basket or the waste. Keep only the most meaningful stuff from your kids’ art projects.
Dispose of what was meant to be disposable. This means empty tape containers, cheap pens, too small pencils. Go through your junk drawer and keep one thing for ever five you throw out. Go through your family’s clothing for the stained and worn out and just throw it away.
“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”
― Wendell Berry,
Be realistic about the future of an item. Let’s say that bag of yarn has been sitting on your living room floor for six months because you think your sister, who lives two states away, would like it. You’ve left it there so long that you feel guilty about doing anything with it except your original intention. Make a decision. Either box it up right now and get it to her, or throw it out. Now you may not have a bag of yarn, but you probably have lots of things sitting around that you intend to give away. Give yourself a half hour and collect as much of this stuff as you can in one place. Give yourself another 10 minutes to make a committed decision — deal with it or pitch it. (Here’s a hint: pitching it in the trash takes less commitment.)
Identify those overstuffed cabinets and cupboards. It’s likely you have too much stuff. You buy more products because you don’t know what you have and you don’t want to run out. What you need to do is purge the old and nearly empty containers. Then you’ll see what you have and what you need to buy. Set a timer for a half hour, put a sticker or a sticky note on those closets, cupboards or cabinets that need a going over. Then, systematically, one day at a time, choose ONE and ONLY ONE cupboard to clean out. Be brutal. Throw out as much as you can. Make a note of what you need to replace. When that one cabinet is done, you’re done. Do one more tomorrow and each day after that until each area is done.
“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”
― Eleanor Brownn
Delegate your responsibilities. Nothing helps me stay organized better than giving clear, reasonable chores to my family. We’ve worked together to figure out what each of them can manage. They know what is expected of them daily and weekly. I gently hold them accountable. I find this freeing. This is especially helpful when everyone knows that all the stuff has a home. If you can’t put it in it’s home in sixty seconds, it goes in the trash.
Excessive stuff drains you soul. With a little effort, you can stay on top of your stuff.
I believe that when we choose to be decisive, we can stay on top of our stuff and we save time for what really matters.
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Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.