When we feel overwhelmed or sad, we tend to let go of things around us that are not urgent or important.
But the last thing you should do when faced with adversity or you “don’t feel like it” is to throw the structure and plans out the window.
Instead, do those chores, follow that routine, and excel.
Keeping your routines in place and focusing on what you need to do, despite how you feel about it, is vital to avoiding future trouble.
Let’s say you are feeling sad, and as a result, you recoil and decide to stop chores. You’ll likely soon have to deal with the same heartache plus all the things you left undone.
Your proverbial strike won’t make your pain go away. Ignoring your chores won’t make them disappear, either.
Things pile up, especially those we consider unimportant. And many “unimportant” things together have the power to take us down and overwhelm us even more. But overwhelming feelings won’t help you get over any heartache anyway.
On the other hand, if you keep doing what you must (despite your feelings and the circumstances), you come out on the other end with an enormous sense of achievement, feeling in control of your environment. That feeling will feed your spirit to continue moving forward.
Although some circumstances in life take us down, body, mind, and soul, I’m not referring to those instances but emotions that overwhelm or shut us down.
For example, the emotions behind your clutter are paralyzing in many instances. However, what’s needed to overpower clutter is, ironically, that action you don’t seem equipped to take. In this case, the solution is letting your mind, not your heart, guide you. Go on “automatic pilot” if you must.
Ultimately, you’ll have accomplished what needed to be done. You’ll smile and proudly whisper, “I’ve got this.”
Okay. See you on the other side.
As a Professional Organizer, I deal with people’s clutter daily. Over time, I have discovered that most of the clutter found in any given home is things that should have left home but failed to do so. We’ll call it junk. If you are overwhelmed by clutter, show junk its way out.
Although junk includes trash, it also includes anything that does not serve us anymore, regardless of the item’s condition. How long waste stays in the home depends on the routines and procedures we follow (or fail to) in handling our belongings.
Those routines determine how cluttered our environment remains. Thus, consistently following specific practices and learning different habits can remove most clutter and help us maintain the space in much better shape.
Handle The Trash
Have a good-sized trashcan (13 gal.) and a recycling bin in the kitchen. To be functional, these need to be out in the open. Getting matching trashcan and recycling bins (or dual-purpose units) is a good idea. Square or rectangular shapes are best because these save space and configure better to the areas.
Relying on the latest grocery bag hanging on a doorknob to discard your trash or an 8-gal trashcan in a corner to collect recycling might be an economical alternative. Still, it creates more obstacles than benefits and is not conducive to a cleaner kitchen. So instead, invest in good quality tools that make life easier.
Sort The Mail
Have another trashcan and recycle bin set where you sort mail if this place differs from the kitchen. This process goes hand in hand with having an effective mail processing system.
Add Trashcans Everywhere
It is easier to dispose of trash when there is a place to do so while we handle that waste. Therefore, place a trashcan in every room in the home. The amount of actual trash removed from homes while decluttering is astonishing. Garbage goes on the floor, under the bed, on the counter, and everywhere else when we don’t have accessible trashcans. During the weekly cleaning day, take all trash out.
Pay attention to when and how you experience the feeling that something no longer has a place in your life or your home. This feeling could be subtle as an energetic discrepancy in your body or noticeable, like clothing that does not fit. That’s the moment when you need to act. So take that thing out of your space. NOW.
Handle Packages Immediately
When receiving a package, open the box and remove the contents. If keeping it, remove the outer and inner packaging and tags. Take the item to where it is used or stored. Then, trash or recycle all packaging. Do not let those boxes and protective packaging material roll around your home for weeks.
Every Time You Come Home
Every time you come home, especially when you bring bags of any kind, open that bag and remove its contents. Take everything where it belongs. Then, trash, recycle, or fold bags to reuse if desired. This process takes a few minutes, but it is better to employ seven minutes each day than suffer a panic attack when you realize you can’t deal with the clutter.
If anything can go anywhere, then everything will go anywhere. So you want to have control of your environment. Every single day, with consistency, is how you achieve that.
When you decide something is for donation, take it out of the house and place it in your car. Then, place a note on your windshield or seat to remind you to stop by the donation center when you go out next. This practice might sound silly, but it won’t when you see how effective this method is.
Deal with Broken Things
Upon identifying an item that needs repair, put that item in a particular place dedicated to this purpose. Assign a monthly date in your calendar for repairs. Take the basket, bag, or bin with you on that day and take care of them.
Send Stuff Away
If you see something that you should have/could have/would like to send someone, prepare the package at that moment. If this is impossible, place the item where it bothers you enough that you will notice it and remember it. Then, include a reminder in the calendar for later that day to prepare that package. Once the box is ready, please put it in your car immediately to be shipped.
Take It Out NOW!
The point is to TAKE THAT THING OUT OF YOUR SPACE NOW. Some things need to wait. For those, prepare a labeled area in your home to place them. As you put something in that area, calendar the action or reminder to address the issue.
Is the item too big to move, or is the action something cumbersome you cannot handle now? You can always calendar these things. You deal with the issue the moment you decide about it. By placing a reminder or an action in the calendar, these things will be out of your head – clearing your mental clutter as well.
Refrain from entertaining trash, junk, and other people’s treasures in your home. Your home is living space, not storage space or a dump.
No Time for Housekeeping
Here’s my take on the most significant pitfall in home management.
That laundry basket seems to travel around the house and never gets emptied. Do you know that basket? Families don’t have time to finish the laundry. Cleaning up the kitchen is a problem for most people. Laundry, paper, and kitchen are the nemeses of so many! I repeatedly hear an argument: “There is not enough time to keep the house in order.” The problem here is a lack of systems and time management skills.
Have You Ever Had a Managerial Role?
I have identified a common pitfall among household managers — not acting as managers at home. Most people do not apply in their homes the skill set that makes them successful at work. But why not?
If you work outside the house, you have managed to keep your job, staying on top of things. Regardless of the type of work you do, there are out-of-the-ordinary projects and day-to-day ones. Those routine tasks comprise the backbone of your job. Whether you supervise those tasks or execute them, the responsibility is yours. If you stopped ensuring those processes are thoroughly performed, things would go south rapidly.
Why can’t we all plan and execute like actual managers at home? One might think it is because home is where we rest and want to think of things other than chores and duties.
Here’s the Irony
But the irony here is that the more you feel that way, the more chaotic your home environment will be and the less you can rest and relax.
You are looking for the million things you can’t find in the home, buying duplicates, wasting time, effort, and money, forgetting essential family commitments, or not having a dining room table available to gather around.
Each time we neglect our home duties, we add a new layer of chaos to our most intimate environment and the corresponding energetic shift that such chaos brings. Are you sure your home is where you want to rest and forget about the stress of your job?
What Get Scheduled, Gets Done
Running the home like a well-oiled machine requires planning what needs to happen. Remember that what gets scheduled gets done.
You would not leave it to chance or rely on “when you have time” to make client appointments at work or to write that report for the boss, right? So, why not schedule house chores and involve every household member? This way, everyone contributes to the home and learns to execute all these domestic chores. This knowledge is essential. Your kids don’t want to go to college to realize they don’t know how to boil an egg.
Then Schedule It!
Much of our household stress would decrease if we transferred some of the management skills we proudly displayed at work to the home and started planning and scheduling the many menial household tasks.
Planning allows us to control when and how these things happen, while scheduling means that those chores will stop interfering with our lives — they will be part of it.
Further reading on the subject:
If you are considering moving, this is the ideal time to call a Professional Organizer. The best time to contact an Organizer is six months before the relocation. Please do not wait until the week before the move (seriously, don’t!). Here is some background story on how and why the moving process is chaotic and feared by many. Then, you’ll see why you should call a Professional Organizer now if you are considering moving.
Is This You?
Do you still have unpacked boxes from your last move? Do you even know what is in them? You did unpack but put things away without thinking about where everything should go. Are you still living with the consequences of that moving day?
The process of moving is stressful and messy. But it also has lingering consequences that you probably have not even considered!
What Lies Beneath
At a fundamental level, moving is a change we might resist. When we move, we need to make decisions about what we own. Frequently, facing our stuff stirs up memories or fears we have not dealt with or are not ready for.
When people do not want to face these memories or fears, they drag everything they own from one home to the next without evaluating or discarding a thing.
Some move stuff they no longer want from one house to the next because they don’t have the time to evaluate and organize what they own. Yet others do not know any method or strategy to prevent the chaotic moving day debacle.
By forgoing the critical steps of organizing their move and purging what is no longer wanted, they miss the chance to simplify their lives and start fresh in a new home.
As a result of the missed opportunity, their clutter, and disorganization will follow them to their new home.
Meanwhile, At The New Place
After falling for the beautifully staged home they saw and bought, reality rushes in like a train wreck on moving day when all the boxes and bulky bags arrive at the new place. These boxes and bags come in total disarray and include things that should have been discarded. However, they are here now, and what is in and where is yet to be determined.
The arrival of such mayhem on a moving day often results in frantic unpacking and placing stuff wherever it lands. But, unfortunately, that is precisely where all that stuff remains for months, even years, after the move.
Some boxes never get opened. So instead, those boxes will go from the garage to the attic, then back to the garage, and maybe the spare room, all the way reminding us of the messy move poorly executed.
Do-Over: Organize Home Before Packing To Move
Organizing the home before packing your move has several distinctive benefits:
Faster Home Sale
Clutter in a home speaks of a lack of storage and makes the home look smaller. Conversely, a well-appointed house conveys larger spaces and proper storage. Potential buyers will always open cabinets, closets, and drawers when these come with the house. They need to see those spaces as ample and efficient. An organized home sells faster because people buy space.
More Profitable Sale
An organized home looks and feels more spacious, leading to a more profitable sale. An organized home makes staging the property possible. Staged homes sell faster and for more money than unstaged homes.
Less Expensive Move
Why pay to pack and move things that will end up discarded anyway? Discarding what you don’t want first makes the process simpler and more economical.
Packing by Category
Organizing the home before packing for the move leads to everything having a single logical place in the house. When item categories are together in a single place, it is easier to assess our belongings and make decisions about them. Then, it is possible to pack the move by categories. Packing by categories leads to logical, streamlined unpacking.
Belongings packed logically and with the new home space in mind are easier to unpack. After moving in, the result is a faster new home setup and better organization system designs. The unpacking process is critical in determining how you’ll live in the new place. You can expect to live with order and grace if the process is fast, logical, and streamlined.
The Move – The Professional Organizer Way
Engaging a Professional Organizer to help with all your moving details can be crucial for a positive moving experience for once!
An Organizer can help your moving process in many ways. Here are some of them:
Strategic Planning + Project Management = Streamlined, Stress-Free Moving Process
The Organizer knows the chaotic process of moving. Many organizers are excellent project managers. From managing the entire process to advising you on staged home living, the Organizer will spear no detail in the strategic plan.
The Organizer will share additional services and resources you might need throughout the moving and home-selling process. Furthermore, they can coordinate and manage those services for you, removing stuff from your to-do list.
Whether it is staging services for your home, make-ready cleaning services, repairs for the new or current house, bulk trash removal, or designing services for the new place, your Organizer has you covered!
But the earlier you engage an Organizer in this process, the more opportunity they’ll have to help.
Organizing Home to Sell = Faster, More Profitable Sale
If you need to sell your current home before moving, an Organizer provides lots of value in the process. An organized home sells faster. Clutter in a home speaks of the lack of storage and makes the house look smaller.
Conversely, a well-appointed house conveys the idea of larger spaces and good storage. Potential buyers will always open cabinets, closets, and drawers that come with the home. Hiding the clutter instead of managing it is not an alternative!
Organizing the house before packing for moving makes sense if you need to be at your current home until you sell it.
Letting Go = Less Work & Fewer Costs in Moving
People often pay to move stuff they do not want or need anymore. Selecting what you need and use beforehand saves effort, packaging material, and money. Working with an Organizer helps you quickly purge unwanted items before packing. There’s no point in packing things that you will discard anyway. Instead, simplify the process and save money by discarding or donating what you no longer need or want before packing for the move.
Organized Belongings = Logical Packing + Easier Unpacking
It is easier to see what you own and make decisions about your possessions when related items are together, things are where they belong, and every category has a logical place. Thus, organizing your home before packing makes total sense. It facilitates packing by category, making unpacking much easier later on.
Packing with Care & Logic = Faster New Home Setup
I have seen far too many packing jobs where we find trashcans with actual trash inside, kitchen stuff, and even clothes. And when the packing does not include labeling or inventory, good luck finding what you might need from any of those boxes!
The scenario described above happens because moving companies usually pay their employees by time and volume. So, it makes no sense for them to separate item categories. Besides, packers are usually not Organizers and can’t make these decisions.
An Organizer packs by categories, carefully labeling everything and preparing comprehensive box inventories. Unpacking will be done with the same care and efficiency at your new place later.
New Home Prep = Feel “At Home” Sooner
The Organizer can fit your new place with systems to suit your lifestyle — modifying closets, creating built-in organizing solutions, translating systems previously used in your last home, or lining shelves and drawers. This professional prepares your new home to make you feel like you belong there from the very start.
Intentional & Thorough Unpacking = Faster Moving On with Life
Organizers find the perfect place for everything you own and put everything away so your new space remains organized and as functional as possible.
With careful unpacking, everything finds a logical place, and everything is beautifully appointed.
Moving is a process many people dread, but it can be amazingly beneficial when it is an organized, intentional exercise. Moving is the perfect opportunity to propel our lives where they should go. But when the process occurs without purging first, it leads to clutter and disorganization in the new place. And clutter is the opposite of the calm and stylish home we look forward to having.
So, declutter your home for a faster sale and an easier move and make space for new possibilities in your life. What is more exciting than moving to your new home? Moving to a new home where everything has a place, everything looks beautiful, and the space is functional. That is!
Do not hesitate to call a Professional Organizer to help with your move. Engaging an Organizer might be the best investment you make after purchasing your new home. With some planning and thought given to the logistics of the moving process, we’ve got this.
Further reading on moving:
Some emotions might get in the way and keep you from living a clutter-free life.
There is usually an emotion associated with people’s resistance to part with stuff that no longer has a specific role in their lives. Let’s look at some of these emotions.
Some items do have sentimental value. When you can keep them in a particular place of honor, that is not a problem. But having too many sentimental things, or that everything is so unique, the truth is that nothing is. Special items get lost in the crowd, and instead of evoking sentimental value, those items become annoyances.
Have you been a hostage of unwanted gifts? You might feel guilty about getting rid of something you received as a gift. What if you don’t like or need that item? What if you lack the proper space to home that thing? None of that matters – you feel guilty just thinking of letting that item go.
This guilt probably arises because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. However, if you follow the same pattern in many instances, you end up in a home where you feel unhappy, given the clutter of many things you’d rather not have around.
Your home should be your sanctuary, not a storage place for unwanted stuff. Learning to separate a gift from the feelings you associate with the giver is essential. You can acknowledge the gift as an expression of their love for you, but that does not mean the item must remain a subconscious contention between you two. It is also beneficial to look at the matter from the perspective of the gift giver. For that, read our blog: What Do You Give When You Give A Gift?
Some people don’t want to get rid of things that might symbolize the life or experiences they wished they had but never did. It is common to hold on to things representing what we wish we had done. Karen Kingston calls this “aspirational clutter.”
A clear example of aspirational clutter is crafting. The amount of new crafts supplies and unfinished projects we find in homes is enormous.
But people can’t let any of those crafts supplies go because, in doing so, they would accept that they don’t have time, desire, or the talent to do those crafts.
But your home should reflect who you are now, support your goals, and be the launching pad to your future. When you hold on to past dreams, you have little room for the future. Let go and rest assured- if you are meant to live those other dreams sometime in the future, it will happen. In the meantime, live and be in the present.
You spend money when you buy something, not when you get rid of it. Keeping something because it costs a lot will not bring back the money spent. When it is time to let that thing go, think about the value it brought to you, recognize it accomplished its mission, and let it be free to enhance the lives of others.
Keeping objects that clutter our lives compounds the problem. These items take an emotional toll on you, rob you of time, and cost money. Such things require that you spend time caring for them and money paying for the space they take up in your home or even a storage unit.
Understanding and addressing the source of discomfort in parting with things you no longer need can also remove a layer of guilt and emotional baggage you may not have even realized you were carrying.
If you can identify your source of discomfort with decluttering, you can make significant breakthroughs. You can deal with your emotions, move on, and eliminate the stuff cluttering your life.
It all boils down to forgiving yourself for past money mistakes or accepting that not everything continues to have a high value over the years. Understanding this will allow you to get past the emotions and part with the object without guilt.
The fear of needing something in the future and not having it comes from the primal fear of not having enough. It comes from not trusting yourself or others to provide for you in the future. If you can replace the item for less than $30, let’s say, or a couple of hours of work, let it go.
There’s a point and time when you must take a leap of faith and trust in yourself and your loved ones to help you with things instead of thinking you’re alone with no resources or skills.
When a task is too daunting, it is hard to start and much more challenging to see the end. This disturbing feeling is a familiar one when it comes to decluttering. It also encompasses the phenomenon of “perfection paralysis.” Some people will only start a project if they are confident the result will be perfect. Unfortunately, that is hardly ever the case; thus, they never start the project.
When a task seems impossibly hard or the desired result unachievable, it is helpful to divide the project into smaller parts and conquer it in chunks. If this still proves too hard to handle, you should engage a Professional Organizer to guide you through the process. Having guidance in the form of a project manager, coach, or even body double can help you see a more straightforward path to completing your project.
To further explore the topic of clutter and emotions, read: