What is clutter anyway? It seems to be such a buzz-word these days. Most people would probably describe it as the junk we have laying around, the piles of paper on the counters, the knick-knacks we collect, a messy desk, etc.
I was only able to wrap my mind around the concept of clutter once I heard it described by author Annie Rohrbach as “a lack of making a decision.” Blow my mind! Clutter isn’t just all the stuff we see, but rather the concept of us not dealing with the stuff. Think about it. If you open an envelope and you don’t know what to do with the contents, you probably set it down to return to it later. And boom…you’ve created clutter, all because you didn’t make a decision the first time you saw the paper.
Sometimes it may not seem possible, but we are in control of our own clutter. (Do you feel like we are having an intervention right now?) The process of clearing clutter is different for everyone, and going back to clear out past things may take some work, but we can all start today by vowing not to create more clutter going forward.
And we can all start the same way with 5 steps:
- Make a decision! When things enter the house/office decide what to do with it. Can it be filed, does it take further action, can it be thrown away, does someone else need to deal with it? If it takes less than 2 minutes, it’s best just to do it right then.
- Create a simple process and landing zone for these things. Even if you don’t have time to put something away, have an area where you set things that need to be put away. (I love using a cute box to inspire me to do it!)
- Create a set time before bed, or during the 10 minutes that it takes for your coffee to brew, to put those things away. If it’s paperwork you need to follow up on, create a simple action step file folder so it’s in a place where you can find it.
- Keep it simple. Clutter can be so overwhelming so don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Figure out what works for you and stick with it. Soon, you’ll realize a little structure can make a big difference.
- Teach others. Your kids, spouse, or co-workers may create clutter that you find yourself taking time to pick-up. Communicate your new process for less clutter so that they are on board or you’ll fight an up-hill battle.
Think of it like un-packing the groceries with the intent of baking grandmas tasty fudge bars. You get home from the store, you bring the bags into the house, and you immediately start putting the groceries away. You don’t leave the eggs on the counter to deal with later. You put everything away until you have time to bake the dish. Same concept with your potential clutter. Learn to make a decision to put everything in its proper place until you need it.
Sorting through past clutter, piles, and storage rooms can be overwhelming, so start fresh today, and we’ll visit how to deal with past clutter at another time.
Take the step to make decisions rather than create clutter.
Click here to read about some my favorite apps for efficiency and minimizing paper.
Posted July 22, 2014