When we are confronted with all the stuff in our space, organizing can feel overwhelming! We don’t even know where to start. Marla Dee defines clutter as “delayed decision or holding onto the past.” The stuff seems to pile up because there are just too many decisions to make. So we need a simple place to start. Try this three step system for any project of any size. For more details get the C&S Steps card here.
Take the 3 steps in order
SEE IT – What’s working, what’s not working and why?
Inspiration – the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions!
As defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, getting inspired means to get the intellect or emotion moving! We often hear people say, “I”m lazy so I don’t… clean out my purse, clean out the garage, clean off the kitchen counter, organize the linen closet…” We want to reframe this. We believe it’s because these things just aren’t inspiring in and of themselves. However, once they are done, the space and fresh flowing energy gets our brains, hearts and bodies fired up! This opens us up to spend time and energy where we really want to. Now that’s inspiring!
Encouragement comes in many forms:
creating a vision of what you most want
reframing negative thoughts to positive ones
the support of a trusted loved one
a picture in a magazine
hearing stories of others accomplishments
sitting with how it will feel when you reach a desired outcome
Find what really lights up your entire being! Here are 3 ideas to get you going:
1 – Look for affirmation of the feeling you want on the other side of clearing the clutter. One great resource is Clutterers Anonymous and here are a couple from their site. As I declutter my life, I open up space to receive the support and comfort that I need – or – As I let go of what is insignificant to me, I am better able to enjoy those things that are important to me.
2 – Find stories of people that have released clutter that you resonate with. One of our favorite story tellers is family man Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. Not only does he share about his family’s journey on his website, but he regularly shares guest posts in his newsletter.
3 – Print a picture or create a Pinterest board that inspires you let go of the stuff that is not adding value to your life or your space. We are always inspired by visual.
The ART of Letting Go is Marla’s ebook about taking that inspiration and then following the steps within The Clear & SIMPLE Systems to clear the clutter. Download this sweet and simple, yet powerful little book today as our free gift for yourself and others. Please feel free to share with your loved ones.
*Please note that we recommend implementing this system and starting in present time. Once you are familiar with it and have every step in place, then go to the piles, filing drawers, etc. to clear out and clean up. Paper is its own beast and is very overwhelming. If you desire the help of an organizer, please contact us.
iRAFT begins with INCOMING:
As we mentioned above, the information is coming from many places; the mail box is only one. Think about how much easier it is to start into your email because it is in your INBOX. So for the paper, choose a container that will hold a week’s worth of incoming paper and put everything there! This includes mail, flyers, notes, etc… You also need a place for thoughts, conversations and such to land. You might use an app on your smart phone, Evernote or a small spiral notebook.
Then once a week (or more often if needed) you will take all the incoming and sort it into four piles. You simply ask do I need to Read, take an Action, File or Toss. Then take the paper (or move the emails) into the each container or folder.
Choose a cool container for your reading that is staying at your desk, your reading chair and for on-the-go.
Every home and office needs an action container for those papers that need your attention such as bills to pay, errands to run and items to discuss with someone else. We suggest making your container vertical so that it is easy to find what you need and leave the other items organized. It is also nice to have it portable so it can move around your space.
We often ask our clients to describe how they feel about FILING. We hear words like yuck, overwhelming, impossible, always behind, drawers are full. And there is a constant theme of not know what to keep or for how long. So start with setting up a “to file” container and then schedule time once a week or once a month to file, depending on your volume. If you really hate filing then get someone else to do it.
By sorting once a week into RAFT, your tossing of the paper is now easy. Have fun noticing how much of that paper pain is really toss papers. Of course you can still throw away junk mail and such before it even lands in your space.
To summarize the SYSTEM:
Daily – plop all the incoming paper and information into the container.
Weekly – take 5 minutes to sort into 4 piles – Read, Action, File, Toss. Then take each pile to it’s proper container.
Weekly – set your TimeTimer for 30 minutes and do the action papers that need to get done that week.
Monthly – take your To File pile and file into your FreedomFiler system.
From a practical standpoint, we’ve written about choosing the 3 most important things for the day and letting the rest go. But when we read Melissa Camara Wilkins’ blog post, What is an Enough List? we fell in love with the depth she brings to this simple guideline. Imagine how it would FEEL to pick up a small notebook or index card tomorrow morning and write down the 3 things that are most important to YOU and let that be enough!
“I used to think there was never enough time.
At the end of every day, no matter how busy I’d been, there were always projects unfinished, emails unanswered, and household chores left undone. I hadn’t done it all, so I felt like I hadn’t done enough.
And it’s only a short leap in your heart from “I never do enough” to “I’m not enough.”
I tried making really thorough to-do lists, but that just gave me a super detailed record of all the things I wasn’t getting to. I would not call that helpful.
The real problem was, I could think of way more things to do than there were minutes in a day. (Oops.)
That’s when I decided to create an Enough List.
See, an Enough List isn’t a list of everything you could possibly do in a day.”
We are playing & practicing with this simple daily list for ourselves. So far we have noticed blocks, disbelief, freedom and a sense of openness and ease. We would love to hear from you about your experience…
Everything is more fun with a trusted friend – especially organizing!
Let’s face it – most things are more fun when done with a friend – shopping, movies, dining, hiking, travel, and hobbies. What is it about organizing that makes us think we have to suffer, have to force ourselves to get it done? It is always on the list but typically the last thing we want to do on the weekend, right? There seems to be shame around letting our friends see our chaos. And yet inviting someone to help is a powerful solution!
This is our best tip for making organizing fun & freeing! Invite a friend to do it with you. Let go of the fear and embarrassment of your friends seeing the chaos and open up to a transformative experience. We have seen hundreds of people be set free when they let themselves receive help from an organizer, a friend or family member.
From Marla – “I just experienced this in a POWERFUL WAY. I got to spend 8 days with a long time friend who had recently lost her husband. Together we got through the garage, project room, closets, finances and more. We told stories, laughed and cried, moved stuff, cleaned and cleared. In 8 days together, we freed her from the blockage and buildup so she could move forward with her life. Because we loved our time so much, we decided to do this every year for each other. This kind of teamwork is life changing.”
The important elements are:
Pick someone safe who won’t judge you.
Do the project in small pieces of 2-3 hours
Make it fun by playing music or having snacks
Try taking turns and helping each other
Choose someone that supports you making a change
The last few weeks we have given your our Top Tips for Spring Organizing. By combining these tips with the support of a trusted partner, you WILL experience joy and wonderful results.
Even as professional organizers we often invite other organizers to support us with our projects. It’s very different to work with our own things (vs. someone else’s) since we have to face our own attachments, emotions and stories. Our Utah Professional Organizers Group even chose to buddy up this year for our service project and we were all sold on the power of getting support from a trusted person.