Organization expert Laura Leist on the right attitude for combating clutter.
Making a resolution is great, but keeping it and acting on it are even better — and harder. So rather than making a resolution, perhaps we should have “intentions.”For example, the “intention to live an organized life.” Here are a couple of key points to recognize right at the start:
- Organization is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There is no right or wrong way. Rather, it’s about creating and maintaining systems that work for you — each day.
- Organizing is a process, not an event. Chaos and clutter did not magically appear in your life yesterday, and they will not disappear tomorrow. However, the good news is that clutter and chaos acquired over many years can be eliminated more quickly than they were accumulated.
Organizing is not going to be a quick fix to a lifestyle of chaos and clutter. Instead, daily maintenance will be the most important step. Without it, the system will break down and your once-organized kitchen, closet or garage may quickly become cluttered again.
It’s often helpful to compare “losing weight and getting in shape” to “getting organized.” You chose to lose weight because you will look better, feel better and be healthier. You go on a diet, work out and the weight starts to come off. You feel great and look great. However, to stay healthy you need to maintain this new regimen or the pounds you lost will find you again.
Clutter is no different. You organize your home and begin to feel less overwhelmed and more in control of your life. But if you do not maintain your new approach, the clutter can begin to reappear.
People often are so overwhelmed by their surroundings that they do not know where to start, so they never begin. If that’s you, then remember this: It is much better to start small and do something, than to do nothing at all.
Two helpful suggestions for getting started: Begin with something small, or begin in an area that has been bothering you. Either way, you want to be able to see progress and have a feeling of accomplishment.
Start with just one junk drawer, a stack of papers, a single shelf or even your sock drawer. If you choose instead to start in an area that really bothers you, remember that the project may be larger, but you can always break it down into smaller pieces. That will give you the opportunity for quicker signs of progress.
About the author: Laura Leist, CPO, is an organizing and productivity consultant, speaker and author of Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life and several books on organizing with Microsoft Outlook. Based in Seattle, Laura is the founder of Eliminate Chaos (eliminatechaos.com) and the president-elect of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers).