Published by Kathy Paauw
Organizing & Productivity Consultant
Certified Personal & Professional Coach
Tools is a Monthly Ezine
cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach.
While our family was vacationing in Hawaii over Christmas, my daughter and I did some beachcombing in search of the perfect seashell. From a distance, everything brought in by the tide looked like debris. But an occasional unbroken shell appeared amidst the driftwood, seaweed, and shell particles that washed ashore. We both found ourselves awestruck by the beauty of each single shell we found.
Sometimes our lives are like that. We have so many beautiful things around us, and their beauty can get lost amidst all of the debris surrounding them. Too much of a good thing becomes clutter. The challenge is to identify the "keepers" and let go of the rest.
My mother -- who will be 70 years old this year -- has lived in Phoenix since 1963 and has decided to move to Seattle to be closer to her children and grandchildren. As I write this article, she is in Phoenix preparing for her big move. It's not easy for her. She'll be moving into a lovely but small condo, and she knows that she cannot bring everything with her.
This move represents much more to my mother than simply moving her possessions across the country. It represents 39 years of experiences, friendships and familiar comforts that she is preparing to leave behind. Moving under such circumstances makes it even more difficult to let go of some of her possessions, and yet she is doing it. She feels burdened by all that she has collected over the years, so she's lightening the load and letting go.
Several years ago I was struck by how much "letting go" one of my elderly clients (I'll call her Katherine) was faced with when she moved from Florida to Seattle to be closer to family. Katherine was grieving many losses: the loss of her husband of more than 50 years (he had died the previous year), the lack of sunshine (we have the liquid kind in Seattle), the loss of friends and familiar places, and the loss of the home where she had raised her children. Although she had already let go of many of her possessions, Katherine had brought more with her than she could possibly fit into her small condo. As we unpacked her things, it was apparent to me that Katherine was not ready to let go of one more thing in her life. So I suggested that we unpack what she could not do without and store the rest to revisit in one year. A year later, Katherine called me back to help her sort through the things she had placed in storage. She was in a much better frame of mind to decide what she wanted to keep and what she was ready to let go of.
DROWNING IN CLUTTER?
Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity;
Here's my definition of clutter: anything you own, possess, or do that does not enhance your life on a regular basis. If you agree with my definition, then you acknowledge that clutter goes far beyond things in our physical environment. Although the focus of this article is on physical clutter, remember that clutter can also include activities, thoughts, or even people in your present life.something to think about!
As an organizing and productivity consultant, I frequently get calls from individuals who are drowning in clutter. They have no idea where to begin or how to "dig out." I begin by asking some questions to clarify what is most important to them. Although my clients recognize that clutter creates a huge drain on their time, energy, and budget, the de-cluttering process still looms as a formidable task. There are two parts to de-cluttering: letting go of the clutter, and containing what's left so you can find what you need when you need it.
Complicating the de-cluttering process is all the emotional baggage attached to a person's "stuff." I've found some common causes of emotional baggage in working with serious packrats:
If you identify with any of these types of emotional baggage, and if you are tired of the clutter, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can schedule a complimentary coaching session to discuss your path to a less cluttered life.
Do you question the value of investing the time and resources necessary to de-clutter your life? Consider the costs of not doing so:
LETTING GO OF PAPER
These "before" and "after" photos represent 3 days of work with this client. We filled a large dumpster and converted what was left into the Paper Tiger filing system for easy retrieval.
In every productivity survey taken over the last 20 years, managing paperwork always falls in the top ten time-wasting activities of managers. Paper management serves as one of the biggest drains on productivity, both in the office and at home. To calculate what disorganization costs you or your company, visit http://www.orgcoach.net/whatitcosts.html.
Here are some startling statistics that support the value of investing time and resources to get organized:
LETTING GO OF CLOTHES
We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.
Recently I had
a conversation with a client about letting go of old clothes. She
had decided to get rid of everything that no longer fit her. Once
she got started, she also decided to get rid of old shoes, handbags,
and accessories that she never wore. Although it was difficult to
let go of things she had paid so much money for -- especially if they
were in good condition -- she began to feel relief as she cleared
from her closet the things she had not made use of in years.
As you consider these questions, challenge yourself to begin letting go of the clothes that no longer serve you. If you're concerned about what it cost and it's still in good condition and in style, sell it through a consignment shop. Another alternative is to donate your clothing to a non-profit organization and take the tax deduction for the in-kind contribution. There are plenty of men and women in who could use the clothing you no longer need. Visit http://www.orgcoach.net/taxdeduction.html to find links to a number of non-profit organizations that take such donations.
A friend told me about a group of women who get together once a year in a friend's home for a "boutique party." They go through their closets, bring their unwanted clothes to the party host's house, and make piles of shirts, skirts, dresses, pants, jackets, accessories, etc. They spend the first hour trying on the clothing and socializing. Then they draw numbers. The person who draws #1 gets first pick, #2 gets second pick, etc. Once everyone has picked the clothes they like, the leftover clothing is donated to a women's shelter. It's a great way to connect with friends, get new clothes without spending any money, and donate to others in need.
What's cluttering up your life? Whatever it is, it's zapping your precious time, energy, thoughts, and space.and it doesn't have to. There's no time like the present to let go of those things that no longer serve you to hold on to.
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