by A. Grano on November 28th, 2011 at 7:00 am
Many of us reserve ‘spring cleaning’ as a once-a-year project. However, if time management, concentration problems, and organization are your biggest challenges on a daily basis, clearing out distractors can help you start the year off right. Especially during the hectic holidays, straightening up can also help you unwind, as having a sense of control over environment can greatly alleviate the pressures of daily stressors. While we’re powerless over things like traffic or the weather, taking charge over a manageable variable has the ability to pave the way for less stress and clearer thinking.
Many psychologists agree that disorganization can detract from focus, creating a longer amount of time to do the same amount of work—on top of creating feelings of frustration and despair over both little and big things, like not being able to find a sock’s match, or larger things, like paying a bill late because it got lost under a mound of paper on the desk.
In addition, with busy schedules, vacations, guests and family, our homes may or may not be in the best order possible.
Where Do I Start?
As with any project, the hardest step is usually the first. Create a plan customized to your needs. Maybe you keep up appearances in main living spaces but let your closet, garage or bedroom go to shambles. Target the smallest space first and break down a large task into smaller, more manageable goals, which not only allows you to feel a sense of victory of completion, but gives you motivation to continue on and finish the job.
- Use the keep-toss-donate rule… and be firm and honest with yourself. Keep things that you need or can’t bear to part with; toss items that are broken, damaged, or un-wearable; donate things that don’t fit or aren’t necessities. Great rule of thumb: if you haven’t used it or worn it in a year, toss it or donate it. Same goes for the dust-collector knickknacks and memorabilia—if they’re truly meaningful memory reminders, keep them. If not, toss them, because they may be holding you back.
- Create an organization system that works for you. While filing cabinets may be handy for some people, stacking individually labeled clear bins or containers may work well for others. Experiment with different tools until you find a solution (or combination) that works for you. Be sure to only hang onto items that you need, and properly dispose of old statements and receipts you could do without. Designate a special place to store time-sensitive items and check it daily.
- Add “personal care” on your organizational to-do list. Make the most of your organization by giving your body and lifestyle a quick evaluation. Is your remedy plan working? Do you need to adjust dosage? Exercise more? Eat better? Spend more time doing ‘xyz’? Accounting for all the little things can help create a better big picture, as well as adjust your attitude to fully appreciate all the hard work you’ve accomplished around the house.
Maintaining Your Uncluttered Space
Make sure you work hard to upkeep the progress you’ve made. Don’t let household chores like laundry and dishes pile up and create a mess in your newly organized space. If you live with others, make sure they pitch in, help with chores and keep their personal space tidy. A little effort each day is much easier than a giant effort down the road.
- Trick of the trade: use a timer. Especially for those with ADHD, staying on task can be a challenge. A timer can help you not forget about transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, and allows for a budgeted amount of time to tackle a room. Using a timer is also helpful for those with ADHD because it makes decision-making finite. By setting limits for tasks, you’re more likely to be able to check them off rather than procrastinate or spend too much time on one.
- Live in the present. Keep only current papers and magazines lying around and recycle the rest. Buy only what you need on a regular basis, and minimize buying in bulk to avoid cluttering up your cabinets and closets. If you’re budget-minded and can’t part with wholesale prices on necessary items, devise an organizational system in the laundry room, garage, or other obscure area that allows you to easy access items but won’t create stacked clutter.
What better time than the present to evaluate our living spaces and take tiny steps to make them more efficient and enjoyable?
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