Avoid clutter overwhelm and find a place to start

When clients come to me with their clutter challenges, it is often because they are overwhelmed and are having trouble deciding where to begin. I see it again and again. Delayed decisions cause stuff to build up until finally it all becomes too much!

When you start feeling overwhelmed even the smallest decisions can be difficult to make. Take a moment to analyze your mess and create a strategy before you begin.

Think of activities for each zone.
Consider which items you use most frequently and which materials correspond with different activities. Items that do not relate to the activities performed in that area should be moved to their appropriate location. For example, books (other than cookbooks) should not be kept in the kitchen unless that is where you do most of your reading.

Take a deep breath and pick a corner to start.
Move clockwise in the space until you are back where you started. For closets and other vertical spaces, start at the top and move down.

Do the easy stuff first.
When you are overwhelmed the last thing you want to do is something that could send you over the edge! Start with the easy stuff then once you are in “de-clutter mode” the hard tasks will seem easier.

Set a timer.
Give yourself a time limit and stick with it. Trying to organize your entire space in one day can work but more often you are setting yourself up for failure. Set a timer so you move quickly through a task. Don’t linger over papers. If you can’t decide right away, put it aside for later.

Put like items with like items.
Sort items into categories. This makes it easier to decide what can be kept and what needs to be eliminated.

Keep only items you use or you love.
If you hear the voice in your head saying, “But, it hardly takes up any space at all” or “I might need it someday,” that is a direct indication that it is clutter and should be in the pile to give away.

Maintain your system with the one-in, one-out rule.
For every new item you buy, toss something old to make room for it. Keep a giveaway box for old items.

Schedule time for organizing, just as you would schedule time to for exercising or picking your children up from school. By making it a priority, you’ll find it’s much easier to keep up and it won’t seem so overwhelming.

About Author: Linda Andersson
Executive Organizer and Microsoft Office Specialist Master

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