Are you feeling stuck with clutter? This tip can help. It is one that I originally shared here almost two years ago, and in light of the Clear the Clutter classes I’ve been recently teaching, it seemed timely and worth repeating. I know that this tip has helped me and I hope it will do the same for you.
Here is the question I received from a reader and my response to it:
I find that when I’m feeling hopeless about ever being clutter free, I don’t even feel like it’s worth trying. When somehow I’m able to see that there will be the time or the way, I have the motivation. I just don’t always know how to get from A to B. What do you suggest?
Clutter certainly does have a way of stopping us in our tracks, and it’s not just the physical items or piles we might see. It’s also the message we tell ourselves about the clutter. That “story” can be the biggest barrier to doing something about it and getting some relief. Because we often associate clutter with failure, guilt, dread, futility etc., we may find ourselves giving up and giving in to inaction or settling for a level of organization that isn’t helpful for us.
To get unstuck and help move myself from A to B, I use a powerful technique that I’ve learned from Margie Cole at The Shared Journey. (Margie is my life coach, mentor and dear friend.)
She has taught me to turn a story into a question. A “story” is a message I tell myself. Often the story is based on a false belief or unreasonable expectation of myself and includes a sense of overwhelm. Due to big tasks and time constraints in my own life, I can relate quite readily to the situation you described above.
Let’s use that as an example.
The story: If only I had a big chunk of time to really de-clutter…
The feelings that seem to go with it: I’ll never really have that kind of time, so I”ll never really be free of this burden. It’s hopeless, why try? I am a failure, ineffective, guilty, overwhelmed….
Turning the story into a question sounds something like this: Hmmm, this cluttered [counter, desk, space…] is making my tasks difficult and causing me stress. I don’t feel good about it. What can I do […in 5 min? …10 min? …15 min? …right now] to bring myself some relief?
Stories have a sense of judgment. They limit us and weigh us down, condemning us to inaction. Stories keep us stuck in the same place, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Questions have a sense of assessment. They lighten our burden, free us to create options and enable us to take steps toward our goal.
A story is self-defeating and stagnating. A question is empowering and motivating.
To help myself de-clutter or tackle any task that seems too big for my time frame, I ask myself the above question and then set a timer for one of those increments. As I work, I encourage myself by saying, Relief is just a few minutes away, so keep going and follow through.
And those little chunks of time really do add up to a lot, especially if done daily (or multiple times a day if the mood strikes and your schedule allows.) Relief, even if acquired in bits at time, is so much better than no relief at all.
So it’s not just the clutter, but it’s also the way we view the clutter. Shifting the view from judgment to assessment, from story to question, helps to get me unstuck and moving ahead. I hope it will do the same for you.
And, if you still find yourself stuck, by all means call a friend (like I did) or hire a trusted professional organizer. Give yourself permission to get the relief you need.
I am now also offering one-on-one sessions via phone, Skype or FaceTime. Contact me to set one up. I would love to help you get unstuck!