I know how you’re feeling. You feel claustrophobic. Like you can’t breathe. Like you can’t find anything you need. Like everything’s really messy. Like you’re always late. Like everything’s ‘in your head’. Like you’ll never have a house/desk/office like such-and such’s.  Like there’s so much to do in so little time.  Like you’re running around like crazy.  Like you’ll never catch up.

lifes clutter

Like you’ll never get organized…

I’m here to tell you that this is not true. This is what you’re telling yourself, but believe me, it’s just NOT TRUE.

Everyone can get organized. Yes – everyone.

  • Is ‘getting organized’ something we’re taught at school? No.
  • Is it something that someone in your family went out of their way to teach you? Maybe.
  • Is it something you can just pick up by osmosis whilst going about your everyday life? Perhaps, to a certain extent.
  • Is it something that some people are born with and others aren’t? Definitely. Just like you are a brilliant artist and I can only draw stick figures!
  • Is it something that – if we’re not born with it, we’ll never learn? Absolutely not!

Is it something you can learn by ‘getting to the bottom’ of the reasons why you’re disorganized? Most definitely!!

Let me explain. In my opinion – there are 4 main types of clutter.

  1. Physical clutter,
  2. Life’s clutter,
  3. Time Management/Mental Clutter; and
  4. Emotional Clutter.

You’ll already know this is you signed up and did my Organization Personality quiz. (If you haven’t done this quiz – do it now!!)

Quite often – disorganization presents itself:

  • Outwardly and obviously, in the form of physical clutter and issues with time management.
  • The emotional clutter, life’s clutter and mental clutter are not outward, blatant signs of disorganization – they’re inward, personal, emotional, and often no-one will be aware of them other than you.

The thing is – dealing with those ‘inner clutters’ – for want of a better term – is often the key ensuring that dealing with the ‘outward clutters’ is a smooth and easy process.

So this week I want to talk about one of those inner clutters – Life’s clutter.

Here are 5 questions you need to ask yourself so as to start ‘getting to the bottom of’ Life’s Clutter.

1. Do you have any health issues that might impact your ability to get stuff done? Are you unwell? Do you find it hard to get up and get a lot of things done due to genuine issues with health? Maybe you’ve just had an operation (like me) and can’t really move around much, or lift things – or do much at all. Maybe you’ve got fatigue and you simply don’t have the energy to do things? If this contributes to your disorganization, there ARE solutions. For example, perhaps the things that you can’t do can be outsourced, or delegated to someone else? You can therefore focus on the things you can do and not have to worry about those that you can’t.  Perhaps a ‘swap’ tasks with another family member?

2. Do you have FOMO? FOMO is a Fear of Missing Out. Do you think that if you say ‘no’ to an invitation:

  • Something great might happen, that you’ll miss out on?
  • Something exciting might happen that you’ll wish you were there for?
  • Your friends/colleagues might have a fantastic time and you’ll get jealous?
  • The ‘right’ people in your industry will be there and you’ll miss potential opportunities if you don’t go?

Relax. You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every invitation! You don’t have to go to every party, every event, every everything!

In my case, I genuinely try to listen to my intuition when I start feeling ‘iffy’ about going to something.

Is my ‘gut’ telling me that it’s ok for me to just stay home in my pyjamas instead of going to this event? Or is it telling me that I definitely need to go?

Am I just hearing a voice in my head tut-tutting, saying ‘You really should go to that’ even when I don’t want to? Well – that voice can go jump in the lake!

If you don’t want to go – quite simply don’t go. Learn to listen to your own intuition on this stuff. If an opportunity was going to present itself to you at an event, and you’re not at that event – guess what? It will present itself in another way! It always does. Don’t worry about this stuff.

Yes, yes, I know that saying ‘no’ is hard. I used to find it really tough and would find myself over-explaining reasons why, and going on and on with over-the-top explanations. You don’t need to do this!

Here’s what you need to do. Work out what your own boundaries are and quite simply state them. It’s more than acceptable to say “Thanks for the lovely invitation, but sorry, I’m unable to make this night due to a prior commitment”.

Actually – if you’re brave enough – you don’t even have to say the “….due to a prior commitment” bit. You can just say “Thanks for the lovely invitation, but sorry, I’m unable to make this event”.

You DON’T need to do what I used to do…..”Sorry, I can’t make this because I’m already going to such-and-such and that’s been in my diary for a while and I feel bad because I haven’t seen her for ages… and…and….and”

Just don’t do it!

There are plenty of online resources dedicated to ‘how to say no, nicely’. Look them up and give them a try!

3. Do you get caught up in other peoples’ chaos? Is your disorganization not actually due to you not being organized, but due to you allowing other peoples’ disorganization to affect you?

Let me give you an example. Perhaps your son has a part time job and he calls you at the last minute and says “Can you please pick me up?”  Well – safety first – of course go and pick him up if that’s the sensible thing to do at that particular time, but then take a good look at what’s just happened. You had things to do. Places you wanted to be. Stuff you wanted to focus on. You allowed that to go into disarray because someone else wasn’t organized enough to let you know what time they were working, what time they’d finish work, and whether or not they’d need a lift home.

Maybe you organized to meet a friend for coffee at noon with a view to getting your hair done at 1pm.  She didn’t turn up until 12.30pm, so you had to guzzle down your coffee in a rush, then rush off to your hair appointment, arriving all frazzled and late instead of cool, calm and collected.  Her disorganization then disorganized your plans.

In terms of family issues – maybe a family schedule is what’s needed? How about a gmail calendar that everyone’s events get entered into as a matter of course? Everyone can be color coded in the calendar, and you all will know where everyone is at each point in time. How about a physical calendar stuck up in the kitchen? Use a different colored pen for each person and write up everyone’s schedule?

“Guys – you’ve got stuff to do, and so do I. My time is just as important as yours is. I am more than happy to pick you up, but I need to know about it in advance so that I can plan for it. What’s the best way for our family to ensure this happens?”

In terms of issues with friends – again, this is a discussion about boundaries.  Let her know how you feel.  How her lateness affected you.  Be honest.

“Jenny, just to let you know, I had an appointment at 1pm that I was late for, due to you turning up late to coffee.  Next time we’re due to meet and you’re going to be late, could you please let me know so I can make arrangements accordingly?”

4.Do you live or work with someone who hinders your efforts at getting organized?  Perhaps your husband is more than happy to live in a mess and doesn’t clean up after himself?  Perhaps you’ve got some toddlers in the house?  Perhaps your workmates are quite happy to work in a shemozzle.

  • Can you find some common goals?
  • Can you establish different rules for different areas of the home or office?
  • Can you have a discussion (obviously not with the toddlers!) that starts with “We….” instead of “You should…..”?
  • Can you find ways that the other person is organized and talk about how to apply what works in area x so as to rectify what’s going on in area y?
  • Can you ‘take a step back’ and try to make the whole process fun and exciting instead of stressful and demoralizing?

5. Do you have defined goals for your life? What is it that you actually want? Where are you now? How can you draw a path between where you are now, and where you want to be? What changes will this require you to make? How will you know if you’ve reached your goals?

Take some time now to really think about this. If you’re driving along the road, you don’t drive aimlessly, with no destination in mind. You know where you’re starting from, you know where you need to go – and you drive there. Maybe you need to follow a map, or the GPS, but you drive to where you want to go!

Why not use this as an analogy for your goals in life!  Where are you now? Where do you want to ‘drive’ to? What does the map/GPS say you need to do in order to get there?

Take action now now by defining your own life goals, specifically in relation to getting organized. Write it like a mission statement.

“I am decluttering my life because/in order to_____________so that I can _____________”.

Share them with me below – I’d love to hear them!!

P.S. If you want someone to ‘hold your hand’ whilst understanding your clutter issues, I’m here for you.  Have a look at my one on one sessions and if they seem right for you – give me shout!

Until next time