When you think about clutter I am sure you imagine those stacks of paper on your table or the pile of toys on the floor. But clutter is more than physical, it can be mental clutter as well. The physical clutter we can see. The mental clutter is more difficult to pinpoint. So imagine if you will that boss or co worker that drives you crazy. You spend your mental energies trying to deal with that person during work. Then you leave work and take it with you. Maybe you are grumpy when you get home. Maybe you call your mom and complain about that co-worker for an hour 3 nights a week. Think about the time and energy it takes to deal with that mental clutter. What could you be doing instead of complaining about the person?
So when we talk about clutter we need to talk about both types, the mental and the physical clutter. Both types of clutter can leave you feeling angry, embarrassed, frustrated and unproductive.
You may need to change the outside in order to change the inside. But sometimes you need to change what is inside in order to change the outside. But where to start? Here are some quick steps to get you moving in the right direction. Try one of the steps, not all of the steps. Start small and when you start to see progress you will start to gain momentum. I write a lot of tips on getting rid of the physical clutter, today it is about the mental clutter!
- Brain Dump: Write Everything down as you think of it and get it out of your brain. Keep a pen and paper handy so when you think of something, put it on paper and get it out of your brain. Some people even keep a pen and paper by their bed so when they think of something in the middle of the night that is on their mind, they can write and down and get back to sleep.
- Learn to let go: Good bye perfectionism! It is ok to not do everything that you imagine you are expected to do. We don’t have to do everything and most importantly we don’t have to everything perfectly. So cut yourself some slack and realize that you are doing the best you can do.
- Just say NO: As women this is a hard one. I was known as the queen of volunteering. I now pick and choose how I want to volunteer. The world is not going to fall apart if I say no. There are many ways to volunteer as well. Instead of baking homemade treats for the teacher appreciation meal, find a good quality bakery and bring something from there instead. Find the volunteer work that you enjoy doing and only do that.
- Rid yourself with toxic people and situations: Think about how much time you spend complaining. If you can’t figure what and who is toxic, pay attention to your body. Does your stomach turn when you think about a person or situation? Do your hands clench? Do your shoulders roll forward into a hunch? Play some tough love and get yourself out of those situations. Remember the people you surround yourself with are a reflection of you. What are they saying about you? As hard as this is to do, it is important. I have walked this road….it does get better with time. It is even harder when it is a family member.
- Schedule Heads down organizing Time: We live in a culture of 30 second sounds bites. Anything more than a minute and we get restless. You would be surprised at how many office clients I work with who do not have regularly scheduled heads down work time. Rid yourself of all distractions. This means turn off the phones, don’t check your email and if working from home send your kids, spouse and pets out of the home while you get the work done. If you have problem getting things done at work, implement a system so everyone knows when you are in heads down mode. Maybe you close the door of your office. If you are in a cubical, it could be if you have your headphones in, that is a sign to leave you alone. I read somewhere that people hang colored pieces of paper off of the back of their laptop screen, think colored post it notes. Green paper means it is ok to interrupt me. Yellow means proceed with caution when you bother me and red means don’t even think about it.
- Start Small and set a timer: Take those daunting tasks and break them up into smaller ones. Little chunks of time are easier to deal with than looking at hours of working on the same task.
- Give yourself a reward: If you finish a dreaded task, give yourself something to look forward to. Maybe it is a long soak in the tub or a movie night with family and friends. Think about what makes you happy and reward yourself with that.
To Joyful, Simplified Living,
MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at http://www.mssimplicity.com/
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