Ever had a room you just hated going into? One that made your heart sink – or made you feel queasy – because it was so full of stuff you didn’t know how you were going to dig it out?
Yeah, me too. (It’s not like I’m perfect either.)
So if you were thinking it’s just you — it isn’t.
I actually hear about it a lot — and I get how it happens. Life is busy, stuff is always coming in, and you just need a place to put the stuff you can’t deal with right now.
Or you’re busy working on a series of projects and don’t have time to sort out the stuff that’s strewn around — you’ll do that later.
Unfortunately the day comes when you can’t stand it any longer — and you want to do something about it. But what? Where do you start?
I know I’ve certainly found myself standing at the door to a room wondering, how did this happen? Where the bleep did all this come from?
It’s a horrible feeling.
And it came seem like an insurmountable job. It can feel like you have to do it all at once.
But you don’t.
One thing I am continually reminding clients is that it didn’t get this way over night, and it’s not going to get undone over night either. Your life is not a reality tv show.
So where do you begin when you would honestly rather run the other way?
Make time for it
I know you would love to snap your fingers and have it done. But since we’ve agreed that’s not happening, you do need to make time to do it.
Sorry, but that time isn’t going to magically appear on the calendar.
It’s up to you to set aside time to do it.
But again, that doesn’t mean clearing the whole weekend and doing it in one fell swoop. In fact, having tried that method many times, I can say it usually doesn’t work. You end up exhausted and burned out in the middle of an even bigger mess.
What I recommend is setting aside chunks of an hour or two when you can work on it undisturbed. And be sure to take a break every 25 minutes so you don’t end up wandering around dazed and not actually doing anything.
Then once you’ve made the commitment about when you’re going to do it, you can move on to the next piece.
Identify a place to start
Oftentimes people look at the mess and think it all has to get cleaned up at the same time. Again, not true.
One place is going to be more important than the others. It might be the desk — so you can at least have a place to put your laptop. Or it might be that you need to clear the area by the door so you can open it.
There’s no right answer here — only you know what will make a difference to you.
Recently my studio had gotten insane after the kids played in my supply closet. So I had to start with the closet because I couldn’t put anything else away or do anything until the closet was dealt with.
So cast your eye around and ask — what needs to be sorted out first? What will let me move on to other things?
Then do one area at a time
Resist the desire to flit about the room.
I’m the queen of getting distracted by that job over there that looks easier than the one I’m currently doing. But when I do that, I end up with a big mess.
Stay in one area and stick with it until you’ve cleared it.
This is huge … and it can be so challenging.
But it can be the difference between finishing your hour (or two) with something to show for it – and coming to the end of your time with no visible progress. Or even worse, having it be messier.
Focusing on one area increases the likelihood you’ll feel like you accomplished something. Then you’ll be more willing (and maybe even excited) to keep going and make time to do it again.
And decide to decide
Ever notice how easy it is to pick something up, not know what to do with it (or second-guess yourself) and put it back down?
Yeah, stop doing that. That’s what makes it take forever.
I know it can be hard to let go of things and it can be hard to just make a decision.
But at some point you have to. A decision is going to get made — so why draw it out and agonize over it?
If the issue is that you honestly can’t decide what to do with things — or find it almost impossible to let go, then get some professional support. Whether you join a virtual group like mine, or work with someone one-on-on in your home, find someone who can support you in letting things go. Without making you feel bad about yourself or your stuff.
Everyone has stuff that is hard to decide about, so don’t get thinking there’s something wrong with you.
But the honest truth is that you need to decide.
It might be easy once you get started, or it might not. If it isn’t, get the support you need to hold yourself to deciding to decide.
No one likes clearing out a big mess – but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You don’t have to do it all at once.
Break it down into smaller chunks of time – and commit. Start with the area that matters most and stay on it until it’s completely clear. And remember to decide to decide — stop putting things down to decide about later. The only way to get out of this mess is to stop putting it off for another day.
How about you?
Is there a space in your home you’re avoiding? I’d love to hear from you in the comments — click here to share what’s keeping you from getting started.
Want some help clearing out your own space?
If you’d rather not do it alone – and you’d even like to have some fun clearing out — click here to be first in line for Making Space. Monthly clearing fun for women who’ve had enough. The clutter busting kicks off this September — see you there!