It's a Matter of Time

If asked, most people would say that the reason we have little piles of clutter on their desks, bigger stacks of clutter on the living room floor, and boxes of clutter teetering in the garage or basement is that they do not have time to tidy up.

Some magical day these people apparently expect to wake up and find that their to-do list is completely blank and that will be the day they attack the clutter in their lives.

If you are one of those people, here is bad news for you. That magical day will never arrive. The fact is, if you donít have time to declutter now, you never will. The number one mistake people make in dealing with their clutter is underestimating the time it will take to tidy up the mess.

The reality is, sooner or later, someone will have to deal with those mystery boxes in the basement. It could be you some fine day when you move to another house. It could be when your grandchildren, sixty years down the road, open the boxes and wonder why grandma kept old sales receipts, unfinished needlework projects, and boxes of stained tablecloths.

There is also good news for you. You can work your way out of the clutter. The secret is that you have to sneak up on yourself. You do this by not making a big deal of decluttering.

Don't buy the book. Donít go out and get those four boxes that you mark toss, save, file, and handle. Donít set aside Saturday morning. Do start right now. Look around you. The first thing you see that looks like it needs to be tidied up, that is where you start.

Give yourself fifteen minutes. Do not dump the mess on the floor thinking this will force you to deal with all of it. People who have done this end up stepping over the mess on the floor for weeks.

Begin at the top layer of the clutter and work your way through it for fifteen minutes. One of two things will happen ñ you will feel energized by the exercise or you will feel overwhelmed. If you feel energized, set aside fifteen minutes a day and keep repeating the exercise until your life is your own again.

If in fifteen minutes, you worked through less than an inch of the clutter, you may have a problem. There was an old black and white photo that you meant to ask your mother about. Who are those people? There were three coupons (expired) for discounts on shampoo, detergent, and coffee ñ brands you never use. There was the Visa bill you meant to pay on time. You feel dreadful. Your life is out of control. You shove the photo, coupons, and bill back into the pile and wonder if the situation is hopeless.

It isn't.

There are people you can hire who will help you work through your clutter. You might even have a friend who could help. Call someone. Get help. Clutter really does diminish the quality of your life. Clutter can cost the average person four hours a week just in looking for lost keys, misplaced wallets, and important papers. Freeing up this time is equivalent to having a half-day off work once a week.

Whether you have a friend help or hire a personal organizer, you have to teach yourself to let go of the past one closet at a time.

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