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(the top ten reasons for NOT getting started…. and our answers)
In this lesson I’m going to go through the Top Ten Tossing Trip-Ups, or the top ten excuses that people use to hang onto their clutter. These are quite legitimate concerns that people share with me at the beginning of an organising project and we need to deal with them so that you can get unstuck and move forward. People really struggle with these things and I think it will be really useful for me to share them with you and as you listen you’ll see that there’s at least 2 or 3 solutions to every single problem. Here goes, in no particular order:
Trip up # 1 – I don’t have time
This is the major one and quite often people are right – they really don’t have time. That’s because they’re so busy dealing with all the mental, emotional and physical clutter in their lives that their worried that if they stop, things will fall apart. People say they just don’t have the bandwidth to stop and do the organising projects they need to do. So the first thing we do is find them extra time by making some changes in the way they work and the way they manage their household routines. Can you batch your activities, like routine work tasks (invoicing, for example) and housework (batch coming, for example)? Can you limit e-mail to twice a day? How about cutting out television for a week or two? What can you outsource? Really think about your time and put a value on it. Can you come to an agreement with someone where you do them a favour in return for them helping you to get organised? In my street, a few of the mums take it in turn to cook each other mid-week meals and drop it over to each other’s houses. We watch each other’s children while we do our errands or work. Anthony Robbins taught me to focus what you do best and outsource the rest. If money is available, can you hire a professional organiser to come and help you? Be sure to download our free report “42 Ways to Free up 12 hours In Your Week”. You’ll be amazed at how much time you find!
Trip up # 2 – I’m overwhelmed or stressed
Have you noticed that overwhelm happens whenever you are looking or thinking about your To Do list? You’ll soon learn that we’re not a big fan here of massive long ‘to do’ lists. They make you feel awful, they’re impossible to get to the bottom of, they are guaranteed to prevent you from focussing on any single item and they just keep growing. Instead, we do a life plan which is compelling and exciting and long term. We help you set short and medium term goals to help you get what you want quickly. Each morning, to clear your head, we encourage you to do a brain dump of everything that’s bothering you or everything that’s on your mind and then step back, look at it and just choose the 3 most important things that you need to do that day. As far as capturing information, keep one notebook only and use removable tabs to make it easy to find your current notes. If a task is important it needs to be slotted into your diary.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you will have a huge amount of energy once you’ve completed your Tossing project – especially if it’s in a high traffic area like a bedroom or the kitchen or a living room. Having lots of unfinished projects is like having a computer with too many applications running at once. It runs slowly and eventually will crash. So just focus on one organising project at a time.
Trip up #3 Perfection Paralysis
Perfection Paralysis is a condition that affects the majority of my clients. They’ll feel like a failure if they don’t do something perfectly. I know this so well because (don’t tell anyone, promise?) I suffer from the same infliction from time to time!! I can’t imagine how many great projects I would never have done if I hadn’t got so good at coaching myself on this one. Basically what you’re saying is that you won’t attempt something because you might not do it perfectly. If we were all born with that attitude then none of us would ever learn to walk. First of all, there is no such thing as perfection. It doesn’t exist. The second thing is aiming for perfection, is aiming to fail. Yes, you heard me. You are aiming to fail because you’re not starting and so you’ve already failed. What you want to focus on is getting momentum each day and with each project. Ask yourself: “What’s one thing I can do today to get me closer to my goal?” Remember the home I showed you in Lesson 1? It was staged, remember? But we’ve had so many years of conditioning – of seeing homes in glossy magazines, or seeing friends’ houses when they’re all zhooshed-up for entertaining – that we strive for the unattainable. Take a deep breath and remind yourself where you want to be in three years. Then get on with it.
Trip up # 4 – “It’s not my mess”
This fourth barrier is common in partnerships where one partner is more skilled at organising and keeping clutter at bay than the other one. Usually the organised one is tearing his or her hair out, wondering what on earth they’re going to do with the mess, when “it’s not my mess!” The answer is to choose one space and create a plan for the space. Help the other person to see the potential. Then set some rules – which you’ll find in stage 4 – the “I” stage of the process. Then it comes down to setting a time frame for the other person to make the decisions and get rid of some of their items. This is done by using your very best communication skills. Show empathy and listen to their point of view. Practice explaining how it makes you feel living in the mess before you talk together and also practice talking about your boundaries and where they have been crossed. Try to remain calm, be compelling and keep emotions at bay. The practicality is that you can’t keep bringing items into a space without any exit strategy. So be kind but strong. You’ll get there, even if it takes quite a number of goes. Your persistence will pay off.
When the creators of the mess are children, we have plenty of ideas for you in the children section of the Milking it Program. What you want to do is to teach them this process of organising a space and to show them how to do it. If you are setting a good example, then (either way) your children will have a big chance of adopting your habits. Sometimes you might just decide that it’s easier if you do it. If that’s the case, it’s easier for you if you do it with love in your heart and perhaps a few good tunes on in the background. Write down the simple steps you want your children to take to prevent the mess from occurring again, stick them on the wall and consider linking pocket money to their successful adherence!
Trip up # 5 – Why bother? It’ll only get cluttered again.
This is true if you don’t have a maintenance program for keeping the clutter at bay. One of the great things about getting organised is that the effort to maintain a system or a space is 1:10, compared with the effort to de-clutter and get a space organised to begin with. The Biggest Tosser ACTIONS approach helps you a great deal with this issue of maintenance because adequate time and effort is put into considering and planning the space and the functions to begin with. Problem areas are planned out so that the clutter causes are reduced and the effects are managed with smart storage and rules of play. We have lots of questions for you to run through in your room assessment. You’ll really benefit from a thorough room plan and then ensuring you have a maintenance plan for that space which is kept up on a daily or at least weekly basis.
Trip up # 6 – I can always think of something better to do.
A good question to ask yourself is whether it’s really important, in the scheme of what’s going on in your life, that a particular project be tackled at that particular moment. The answer depends on what’s going on. For example, just say you have some pressing health issues to attend to, but the spare bedroom is bugging you because it’s cluttered and you can’t use it. Well if you can shut the door on the bedroom and leave it, then that would be advisable until you have dealt with your health appointments or needs. Don’t be too hard on yourself. On the other hand, if your other ‘something better’ to do consists of watching re-runs of your favourite TV program when the bedroom is covered in clothes and so much junk you can’t get a good night’s sleep, then yes, you’re procrastinating! So the way to get off the couch is to turn on the timer and start this program in 15 – 30 minute spurts. You’ll find that it’s so easy to do something for 15 minutes that you’ll get on a roll and low and behold, you’ll start to enjoy it!. Ask a friend to hold you accountable by a certain date. We can also hold your hand through the process in our forum. All you need to do is to introduce yourself and tell us what project you’re working on and when you want it done by. We’ll make sure you achieve it. Momentum will kick in as soon as you’ve started and with all the ideas we have for you here, you’re going to love this process.
Trip up #7: Euwww!! Yuk!!
If you have six inch nails and never a hair out of place, you may not like the dirt and grime that comes with a good de-clutter project. Where I live in Brisbane, it can get really hot and humid in summer, so it’s not easy to do an organising project and look polished at the same time! So you can either get these projects done in the winter, or turn up the air conditioning. Either way, dirt and dust comes with the territory. You can wear disposable gloves, tie your hair up and reward yourself with a massage or a facial once you’ve finished. Think about what a good workout you’ll be getting as you bend and stretch and lift items. Getting a friend in to help can take your mind off the less pleasant aspects of the project and stay focussed on how great things are going to look when you’re done.
Trip up # 8: Touching a raw nerve.
Many people find it very difficult dealing with items that belonged to a deceased loved one, or an ex-partner or an old friend. It can be a traumatic experience handling belongings and making decisions that are so emotional and fraught with meaning. It is strongly recommended that you get a friend to help you. Firstly, your friend can sit down with you and agree on some rules about space and number of items and where things should go before you engage with any of the stuff. You might set a time limit and decide to only spend 20 minutes at a time in the space or with the belongings. Remember that if you do the job properly, you won’t need to do it again. Try not to spend too much time looking at each individual item. If you want to , perhaps you might allow yourself to keep and cherish a few items that you can store somewhere, if that feels like the right thing to do. An expert organiser from the U.S., Lorie Marerro, suggests that you could get someone to do the pre-sorting for you, so that you only need to do the decision making part of the process, thereby limiting the amount of time you spend with the items.
Trip up # 9: It’s just no fun at all.
I have friends that say to me: “how can you possibly enjoy doing that, it’s so boring!” Well I enjoy seeing the transformation of physical spaces, but most of all, I am moved and inspired by the emotional and mental transformation and growth that takes place in the person undergoing the process of organising their life, business or home. Tackling tasks that you don’t like is the stepping stone to a greater life. In his book Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, Deepak Chopra asks a series of questions about how energy efficient your everyday life is. Whether you go to sleep and get up at the same time, whether you leave work on time, rather than frequently working over time, whether your wardrobe is organised and your fridge cleaned of old leftovers and replenished with fresh produce. Whether you keep up with your housekeeping and only buy what you need and don’t leave things to the last minute. Your answers to the questions indicate how efficient your life is and therefore. When people find themselves struggling, Deepak says, they are squandering their energies. The energy that is released through the process of organising gives you time and space to really enjoy life. So even if you don’t love the process like me, you’ll LOVE the rewards.
Trip up # 10 – I don’t know where to start
And last, but probably most common problem of all, people say: “I don’t know where to start”. You want to start with an area in your life or home that has the biggest impact on you and your family on a daily basis. What is one area that if you were to tackle it and put a system in place would give you so much daily support that lots of your house problems would be solved? Is it taking you ages to get dressed in the morning because you can’t find your clothes? Is it hard to put the dishes away in the kitchen and do you have to walk ten paces to get a pot onto the stove? Once you’ve chosen your area, just follow the ACTIONS process and all the decisions about ‘what’s next’? will be made in no time.
Just remember that we are here to help you. I am an experienced lifestyle coach and expert professional organiser who has been doing this for decades. I have a team behind the scenes of the most productive and experienced professional organisers and assistants and we are here to help, guide and support you every step of the way. Just connect with us in the Facebook Page and we will create an action plan with you that will take you from mess to success as quickly and directly as possible.
So download your workbook titled ‘7 Day Fresh Start – 7 days to a bigger life with less stuff’ if you haven’t already and let’s get started!
Here’s to Your Success!