Clutter is something we all deal with, no matter how careful or organized we are. Stuff happens, to co-opt a less polite saying.
The reason we’ve put our decluttering series together is that as part of our mission, we want to help our customers lead happily organized lives. Check these out if you haven’t already:
- Purge, Purge, Purge
- De-Clutter, Un-Clutter, and Clutter No More
- How to Make Organization Part of Your Daily Routine
We believe that when your stuff is organized, the quality of your life can improve vastly. And instead of inevitably wasting time on disorganization, your time and minds are freed up to do the things you love.
Today, we’re going to talk about Getting Stuck. We’ve all been there. Some of us more than we’d care to admit. But here’s the thing: If you want to do this purging / decluttering thing, if you’ve read through our other articles but haven’t done any of the action items, then this article’s for you. We’re going to talk through being stuck and getting unstuck.
The solution won’t be one size fits all. Because just like those beautiful boots that you all have hanging on our product, each of us is different. We have different lives, priorities, circumstances. So that’s the first thing to think about. Perhaps you just haven’t found your getting unstuck solution yet. Different strokes for different folks, different strokes move the world… all very true.
There’s a lot of literature about decluttering out there.
But oftentimes, decluttering and purging can butt up against issues that are unique to you and you alone, and the more general approach taken by most articles may not necessarily apply.
So let’s see what makes you tick, shall we?
Are you a visual person? If so, physically writing out a list of things that you can then tape onto a place where you can see them may be a good thing. And if you immediately thought to yourself, no, I’m not a visual person so this doesn’t apply to me — maybe, just maybe, try it. Even if you think it won’t work, even if it feels silly because you consider your phone a fifth appendage and can’t remember the last time you hand wrote anything.
Sometimes the trick to getting unstuck is to fire up some different synapses in your brain. If you’re used to looking at a list of things to do on your phone, tablet, or computer, it might be time to have a handwritten list.
If, conversely, you’ve always written notes to yourself, maybe it’s time to check out some Notes apps.
Are you perhaps thinking, well, that’s all very fine and dandy but lists aren’t for me? I have an excellent memory and keep it all stored there. Same exercise for you, friends: Try writing out those lists. We know you don’t want to! But try anyway. Get yourself a coffee or tea, grab a notepad and a pen or pencil. And begin.
A note on lists: They can be as high-level or detailed as you need them to be. Some folks find it helpful to have “lists of lists” — aka, this is my Stuff to do for school list. Stuff to do around the house list. Cleaning list. Errands list. Others find it works to have everything all together. The point is to put stuff in a place that’s not just your brain, where it swirls round and round.
Next up: Let’s think about a reward system. Yes, rewards. Remember gold stars when you were small? They were pretty and shiny and gave you a nice little feeling of accomplishment and pride.
Whether you’re doing this exercise as a couple or family or for yourself, take some time to figure out what a reward system might look like.
You can assign a point system: 1 point for each item on my list. And once I get 50 points, I’m going to treat myself to a movie or a facial or whatever else sounds super fun and relaxing.
And here’s the thing: Sometimes, you don’t need a system. Sometimes it can be as simple as, once I am finished cleaning the bathroom I am going to reward myself with an episode of my current Netflix show. Or, try the reverse: Get an audiobook or podcast that you love. And only allow yourself to listen to it while you’re cleaning. Since all you need is your ears to listen, your hands will be free to do all those chores!
If this sounds silly, don’t discount it quite yet: That feeling may be what’s keeping you stuck. That feeling of, no, that won’t work for me, that sounds boring/lame. So, indulge us, indulge yourself, and try it. Even if you don’t want to.
Which brings us to: What happens if you don’t want to? That feeling of no, I don’t feel like it, I don’t want to.
(And we’re not talking about moments when you know in your gut that something is not right and you shouldn’t proceed. Those are different.)
Here’s a great tip: Just because you don’t want to doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. The feeling of, “I don’t want to” doesn’t really mean anything. It’s easy to make it mean something, of course. And it’s easy to use THAT feeling to give ourselves permission to not do things. It’s something we use to get ourselves off the hook. We all do it.
But if there’s something you want, need, are committed to moving forward with, dealing with that feeling is going to be a huge step. Try it the next time you have something to do, let’s say, put your seasonal items into storage, and you just can’t seem to bring yourself to do it. Ask yourself, Do I want to do this? (Which is different from, do I need to do this? Because, yes, of course, you need to do it. Spring is here and you need spring outfits and you can’t be tripping over your winter boots each time you step in the door.) Do I want to do this? No. And then ask yourself: But can I still do it? Yes. Because you can. You can absolutely do something without wanting to do it. Stop wasting time trying to convince yourself to feel like you want to.
It’s like you’re performing a bit of a Jedi mind trick on yourself. Sometimes, that’s what it’s going to take. Life can be overwhelming! So many things to do and places to be. So much so that sometimes, all you can think about is all the things you have to do over and over again, getting more and more overwhelmed as you spend time dwelling on that instead of knocking stuff off your to-do list. How do we know? We’ve been there. Everyone has.
Anything you can do to shift focus from that swirl is a good thing. Then, you can try something new, like we suggested. Get to work while not feeling like it. We’ll even give you permission to say, I don’t want to be doing this — as long as you’re doing it.
And finally: Don’t give up. Just don’t. There are so many resources out there, and so many people are dealing with what you’re dealing with. Read more articles, read some books, sign up for a support group or organize one of your own, talk to friends and family. Get a buddy, and hold each other accountable. You can do it! We know you can.