Having lived for decades I’ve observed a lot. I’ve watched the casual, easy going life In which I grew up and raised my kids evolve into and along the ‘superhighway’. I’ve watched the stress levels of young and old alike soar to new heights. It reminds me of the old chicken and egg scenario…which came first? Was it the need to always be connected that fired the desire … or did the ability to always be connected fire the need?
As a designer and an eyewitness to life I know that technology is stressing us out as it endeavours to save us time. How am I so certain? Because I interview clients both in their homes and in their places of work in order to find out how to best serve their needs. And they all tell me that they need to have places where they can just go to “chill” ,”relax” “get away from it all”.
They want their office to be as calming as possible, given that is their place of work. Which ever terminology they use to express it, the message is clear. they want a SANCTUARY that is stress free. So lets talk about how to achieve it.
By far the biggest culprit!
There are several types of clutter…physical, emotional, auditory and the list goes on.
I define physical clutter as visual noise. Even the hoarders with whom I have worked ( and they are by no means a scientific sampling!) tell me that the clutter screams out to them but they are powerless to deal with it. When I go to a client’s house and the dining table is covered with unopened mail, newspapers and junk, the first thing they do is apologize for the mess and confess that it is usually like that if not worse. Let’s not confuse the fact that people recognize that the clutter exists with their being happy, stress free and thrilled that it’s there!
I have a client who confesses “I have a problem…I’m great at taking things out, but immobilized when it comes to putting them away!” So unless you have a full time person following you around, clearing up after you, let’s talk strategy.
Get a dedicated notebook, 3 pens…black, blue and red
Dedicate a page or pages to each ‘space’, including the entry, coat closet, the garage, main floor powder room, bedrooms including dressers and closets. TIP: Start by identifying all of the components of each room, before starting the next page. Leave some space at the bottom of each page.
* Go from room to room (page to page) and list the things that are cluttering each space. Break it down into sections of the room.
under the bed,
Fill in the clutter in each area before writing the next subtitle so that the page is neat.
All of the above should be in 1 color ink. The items that are cluttering should be in the second color. Save the RED pen to give yourself a BIG FAT check mark when all the items have been dealt with.
* Now go back and prioritize each space by writing a huge number at the top of each page. Those numbers will signify the areas in the order in which you want to tackle them. Now write a date at the top of the page which is your goal date. Be realistic…we want you to feel successful, so make it as soon as is reasonably possible. NO…May 2027 is not an option!!!
* Set aside a certain time every day, week …during which you are COMMITTED to dealing with your clutter issues. Start with your # 1 priority page and stay with that space until you have finished dealing with it. When the area is clutter-free make a bold red checkmark through your list and move on to page 2. Repeat the steps you did in area 1.
SHAILA”S RULE says that you can’t check off area 2 as complete if area 1 is showing signs of clutter again. WHY? Because if area 1 isn’t being maintained as a “clutter-free zone”…the paradigm shift hasn’t taken place yet. Keep clearing and keep working, advancing to all areas of the house. CELEBRATE your accomplishments. BE PROUD of how far you have come…but be HONEST…no checkmark yet.
Of course you aren’t the only one living in your home…unless you are and then the accountability is squarely on your shoulders!
“But Shaila,” I can hear you wailing, ” You are supposed to be helping us DEstress”! My husband…my baby…my teens…my mother…”. I get it, I’ve been there, I feel your angst and your pain! Trust me, Your CONTROL, COMMITMENT, and GREAT EXAMPLE ( plus a little reward and punishment) will have the trickle down effect that you want… So buckle up and buckle down and enjoy the ride.
Make it FUN. Make it a family effort. Make it a game. Make it a prelude to a special treat.
Do what you have to do to get it done. Life has taught me that when you want others to participate in your dream make them part of it. Ask for their suggestions and input. The more they feel ownership of the idea, the more they will be on board with it. Chart your progress as a family and celebrate accomplishments. Make it a survivor or clutter bug game with prizes for the fastest, most organized, best maintainer, most creative storage and organizational solutions. Think up creative and fun names for each category. Replace the drudgery with challenges and benchmarks. Take before and after photos and make a scrapbook.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE STUFF
MAKE 3 PILES
1) GET RID OF.. STILL IN GOOD CONDITION……….SELL OR DONATE.
TRASH…GET RID OF IT FAST BEFORE YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND.
2) NOT SURE..GET A FRIEND OR RELATIVE WHO WILL BE IMPARTIAL AND TALK YOU THROUGH WHY THE THINGS ARE OR AREN’T NECESSARY. If YOU STILL CAN’T DECIDE, PUT THEM INTO A BOX AND DECIDE LATER.
3) KEEPERS..FIND A PLACE WHERE THEY WILL BE GIVEN THE LOVE AND RESPECT THEY DESERVE. HANG THEM, FOLD THEM, LOVE THEM…THEY ARE YOUR TREASURES….TREAT THEM AS SUCH.
Let me know how you are doing! If you need help, I’m only a phone call or email away!
More next time.