What if you just have a disorganised personality?

I often talk in my presentations about personalities that are more prone to clutter than others.

Those personalities are ones that are creative, intelligent, and love information. They are often easily distracted and don’t finish things well. They’re great at ideas, but kind of go off on a tangent and don’t always follow through. I’m one of those myself.

Someone once stood up and asked “So if I have that personality, how do I keep my house under control? I don’t think I can completely change who I am”.

She was right, we can’t completely change the way we are. She will always be like that. I will always be me. I can put in place systems or organisation, but I’ll still default to those behaviours a lot of the time. I’ll still be a bit messy and forgetful and lack focus.

But being like that is not a bad thing, because those personalities are also pretty bloody awesome. We’re warm, empathetic, intelligent, creative and fun.

So my answer is this:

Have less stuff, and do less things. The simpler your life is, the less impact your unhelpful habits can have.

 

It’s all about how it makes you feel

It’s not how your space looks that matters, it’s how it makes you feel.

If you stand in front of a space or in a doorway and think “I’ve got this. I can handle this” then you don’t really need to change much.

If you stand in front of a space or in a doorway and your heart rate goes up, you feel stressed, you feel the urge to escape or you don’t know where to start; then change is needed.

It doesn’t have to look good. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be under control.

Don’t worry about how it should look, or how you think others think it should look. Don’t worry about what your neighbour’s looks like, or your sister’s, or the other school parents. Don’t compare your home to the ones you see on TV or in magazines.

As long as you feel like you’ve got control of it, it doesn’t really matter what it looks like. It’s how you feel in your home that matters.

Too many interests makes for all work and no fun

A common theme among my clients with high levels of clutter, particularly those who are “information collectors” or “crafters”, is a very high number of interests.

The more interests you are actively pursuing, the more stuff you accumulate.

The more stuff you accumulate, the more time it takes you away from your interests.

Take stock. How many interests do you have? And how much do you even get to enjoy them? Ironically, the more supplies people have, the less they actually do.

IMG_6339I know you need your hobbies and pursuits for your mental health, but do you need all of them at the same time? Our lives are long enough to pick a few favourites at a time.

Consider dropping some altogether, or putting a lot of them on hold.

As Oprah says -

“You CAN have it all, just not all at once”.

 

Declutter first, organise second.

I always laugh when I see “decluttering” blogs or posts saying “Declutter tip: put your stuff in plastic tubs to organise it better” or “Get rid of your clutter by using these lovely baskets”. Ah…nope.

That’s just making it neater. That’s not decluttering at all – at best it’s organising, at worst it’s “churning”, where you sort and re-sort continually in an effort to take control, purchasing more things to put stuff in, spending more money and taking up more space.

Decluttering means to remove it from your home altogether.

If it’s not there, you don’t have to expend the effort on sorting and more sorting, and you don’t have spend money on storing it!

 

What I’m all about

I have been mulling over a passing comment someone said to me recently. It made me feel as though I (as a Professional Organiser) was generally regarded as judgmental and a promoter of perfection.

I want it clear that Clear Space is NOT about making everyone a perfectionist.

I don’t promote an unhealthy obsession with cleaning or minimalism. I don’t think that a clean house is a sign of a better parent. Nor do I think that a messy house is a sign of a dysfunctional family or poor parenting.

I don’t think that anyone “should” be anything – organised, not organised, messy, clean etc. They should be doing what makes them, and their families, happy.

I am here for people who are in a mess/muddle/overwhelm/block and they want to change. I will then help them change.

I NEVER judge someone by how much stuff they have, don’t have, or how clean it is. I certainly couldn’t live like some of my clients do, but they don’t want to live like that, either, so we roll up our sleeves and try to meet their needs.

I have friends who live in chaos, and friends who live in show homes (and clients in both categories, too!). I love them all the same! I’m somewhere in the middle myself, and I’m happy there.

I’m here to get you into a place that you’re happy in, too :)

How to organise your cords and cables

One of the things that I see most frequently cluttering up people’s lives are cords and cables. They are very easy to lose, very easy to duplicate and seem to breed when you’re not looking.

Here’s a simple way to organise the ones that aren’t being used much (some live permanently on desks – I know my iPhone one does!). You’ll need a box, some ziplock bags, a label maker (or white paper and some sticky tape will work too) and a permanent marker.

1. Collect them all together
2. One at a time, establish their purpose, what device they belong to and whether you even need it anymore
2. Label the cord with a meaningful description and put it in a ziplock bag, making sure you also label the bag (you can store duplicate cables in the same bag)
4. You may need to have a bag of “Unidentified” cables if you don’t have the courage to part with them.
5. Stand all the bags up in the box. They’ll be labelled for easy identification and won’t get tangled.

Store chargers separately, if they aren’t plugged in at a charging station, but you can still use the same storage method for them.

We need to be more grateful!

Okay, soapbox warning.  I’m up there and I’m standing VERY TALL.

I read an article recently (you can read it here if you like) that basically listed the 50 most annoying things we (a British study, but I know it applies to all of Western society really) have to put up with. It made my blood boil and so I’ve written this in response -

50 things to be grateful for in this world.

1. Pressure selling – people continuously trying to sell you something you don’t want? Great – you have choice!

2. Spam emails – oh, you have email and are connected to the world! Great!

3. Pushy sales people – At least there are sales people that aren’t ripping you off blind and will tell you all you want to know about a product

4. Foreign call centres – you get to speak to someone from a different country, cool! You get to hear another accent, cool!

5. Being put on hold – you can clean your nails, reflect on life, slow down a bit

6. Dog mess on the pavement – you don’t have to drink water from the same area the dog has pooed

7. Pot holes in the road – you have suspension. And a car or a bike.

8. Spam text messages – you have a mobile phone

9. Drivers who take up two spaces – There is loads of space a few metres away and you’re not having to walk 5kms just to get there.

10. Getting stuck behind really slow drivers – they’re driving carefully, not like idiots. At least if they hit something they won’t do much damage

11. Queuing – waiting is good for the soul.

12. Really slow people in front of you at the till – again, waiting is good for the soul. You get to have a chat to the person behind you and meet someone new.

13. Rude customers or clients at work – you get a chance to lighten up someone’s bad day. See it as a challenge.

14. Getting stuck in traffic – thankfully you aren’t likely to get hijacked as you sit there.

15. Having to stand on the train when you’ve paid loads for a ticket. Really? You’re not walking home; isn’t that a great thing!

16. Having to pay to use public lavatories – that are clean and safe.

17. You unload the washing to find a tissue has covered everything. Oh, my god. You have a washing machine and don’t have to cart a bucket of dirty water from the river.

18. Credit card offers through the post – you get stuff  in the mail and it’s not intercepted by corrupt mail workers

19. Bird mess on the car – you have a car. There are birds close to you.

20. Middle lane drivers – you have lots of other lanes to use should you want to. Why stress about something you can’t control?

21. You put on a couple of kilos in weight when you think you’ve been good. It’s clear you have enough food. More than enough, really. Many wish they had this problem.

22. Cars not stopping for you at a zebra crossing – there are zebra crossings.

23. Your delivery gets lost in the post – you have enough money to replace whatever it was

24. You hang the washing out only for it to rain – you have enough clothes to survive in the meantime.

25. Spelling errors in books. You have books. You can spell. You’re educated.

26. Company ‘reply to all’ emails that aren’t relevant to you – at least you have a job!

27. Having to shave – you have a normally functioning hormonal system and arms to shave with.

28. Having to find spare change for the supermarket trolley  - you have access to a supermarket, and don’t have to carry your stuff on your head.

29. Banks phoning you to offer you a credit card / loan / overdraft – You have access to credit if you need it

30. Being sold something different from what you paid for – you have the ACCC to back you up.

31. You close the computer or the computer crashes and you’ve forgotten to save your work. You have a job. You have a computer.

32. Predictive text – you have a phone, iPad or computer. Most likely all three.

33. Being duped by a sales person – you have authorities that will try to help you out that you can trust. You have enough money to survive a loss.

34. Self-serve tills – you get to play with a toy all by yourself.

35. Your partner leaving crumbs / mess on the kitchen side. You have someone to share your life with that loves you.

36. Delayed trains – You have a train to catch that will take you home.

37. Getting a paper cut – it’s not going to get infected, and if it does, you are very unlikely to die from septicemia because we have a health care system.

38. Calling companies complaints lines – there are complaint lines with people there to listen to you.

39. You miss the train by a couple of minutes – there will be another train shortly and you won’t have to walk miles home in the dark on your own.

40. Realising you’ve left your phone at home – you have a phone, and a home, that you can go back to. In the meantime you get to enjoy the peace.

41. Banks phoning you to check your personal details. Your money is safe.

42. Losing the remote control.  Now you can get some exercise!

43. You forget to put the bins out on rubbish collection day. Your rubbish isn’t piled up at your door. It will be collected next time. You don’t have to sleep in it.

44. Your shopping bag breaks and you lose your goods all over the floor.  You have enough money to buy a bag of groceries.

45. The milk has gone off. You and your family have plenty of food and drink to be healthy.

46. Breaking a nail. This doesn’t even warrant a response.

47. Dishes being stacked on the draining board. You have fresh running water to wash your dishes with. And a draining board.

48. Automatic direct debits. You don’t have to line up to pay your bills.

49. Keypad tones. You have a mobile phone.

50. Someone rings you and they lose reception straight away. Again, you have a mobile phone.

And I’m adding another:

51. Articles that show how pathetically privileged we all are without knowing it. I can be grateful that I have a computer to read it on…as much as it angered me!

 

Will it stay or will it go?

When you’re trying to reduce your belongings, it can be hard making the decision to keep or discard an item.

Here’s what I ask my clients:

1. Do you NEED it? This one is relatively easy to answer once you get the hang of it. If it’s a bike bell and you don’t have a bike, you probably don’t NEED it. Notice I didn’t say “want”. Be careful you don’t confuse the two – western society has a pretty warped sense of need these days.

2. Do you USE it? If you don’t need it you still might use it. I don’t NEED a white coat and a brown one, but I do use both of them regularly throughout winter.

3. Do you LOVE it? Is it neither a necessity nor used? Is it a teacup that belonged to your grandma’s special set? Not needed, not used, but certainly treasured.


If it fails all these tests, then it has no place in your life. Period.

 

Be careful: it’s at this point that the “other” criteria pop up in your head because fear kicks in….

“I might need it one day”

“I really should finish that project; I’m a failure if I just discard it now”

“What if Cath notices the frame that she gave me isn’t on display anymore”, or

“But I spent good money on it and now I’m wasting that money by giving this item away”.

None of these are good enough reasons to keep something. Don’t let the fear take over.

If you don’t need, use or love it, it’s making life that little bit harder for you. That little bit more cramped, that little bit more complex. Let go of the fear and experience the freedom!

 

Embrace the idea of less stuff so you can have more of life.

 


Do less, be more

I have many clients that aren’t hoarders, but have too much stuff.

They don’t over-shop, but they are always in a mess.

They don’t refuse to throw things away, but they still never get around to it.

These people are busy – really busy. They have jobs (often more than one), they have study, kids that have stuffed-to-the-bursting schedules, friends that they drop everything for, hobbies, groups, committees, coaching and other commitments. 

They are cluttering up their schedules, and that in turn clutters up their spaces and their minds. They are overloaded.

I am constantly bleating on about slowing down, about dropping all but the essentials. My clients’ lives – YOUR lives – will not change if they don’t.

You don’t NEED to be doing EVERYTHING all at once. Slow down. Drop stuff. Pare back.

We have a long life, at the end of which very little apart from our near and dear will actually mean anything.

You don’t need to be doing all that stuff to be of value. You are of value just as you are.

Do less, BE more.

Weekend Weightlifter – the cutlery drawer

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My cutlery drawer after a little spruce-up

This week we’re tacking the cutlery drawer. It’s a short job, but with great satisfaction because you use it so frequently.  I did it today myself and it took me only 8 minutes! (mind you, mine was more dirty than cluttered so most of the time taken was cleaning the cutlery tray!).  It should still take you less than 15 minutes.

Here you go:

  1. Pull everything out and place it all in like groups on your counter-top or table (knives together, spoons together etc)
  2. Take out the cutlery tray, if you have one (if you don’t, get one as it prevents a lot of searching!) and give it a good clean.
  3. Wipe out the inside of your drawer
  4. Assess your piles on the counter. What do you use all the time? How many do you REALLY need? What do you never use? What can you live without? (ie, if you didn’t have one, you could still make do).
  5. Put the frequently-used items back in the drawer in their groups
  6. Find homes elsewhere for the stuff that doesn’t belong
  7. Donate or trash never-used, duplicates or broken items
  8. Smile every time you  open the drawer!

 

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