Taming the Clutter Monster
Brenda Morris has seen the true face of clutter. And she is not afraid.
For the last 10 years, Morris has worked as an organization specialist in Stanislaus County under the business name Bless This Mess Organizing. In that time she’s helped countless clients tackle clutter, disorganization and hoarding and find a new, more organized and cleaner life.
If your new year’s resolution is to eliminate the clutter in your life, Morris has the advice you need.
“The negative impact of clutter and disorganization is the common thread between all of my clients,” said Morris. The decision to call in an expert to help tame the clutter doesn’t often come easy. Like most of us, her clients often try to go it alone for a long time before admitting they need help getting organized. “When I get called in it is usually because the client is experiencing varying degrees of frustration and failure. They’re overwhelmed with indecision, depression, despair and regret.”
As soon as Morris walks into a new client’s space, she focuses on helping him or her establish a ‘landing and launching pad,’ a dedicated space near the point of entry where he or she can place the constant influx of keys, phones, purses, incoming mail, ongoing to-do lists and more that sneak into every home.
Creating that one point of organization is the first step to creating a positive flow and ensuring that all those everyday things that tend to get misplaced and create chaos never start to overwhelm the organization process.
Take the Long View
Morris insists that clients recognize that organization is not a destination, it’s a journey.
“Organization is a tool to help us follow through on our priorities. Recognizing the need to create and maintain trusted system [like the ‘landing and launching pad’ mentioned above] to capture, store and retrieve possessions and information is important.”
What’s true for organization is true for any real life change: even if you’re hiring a specialist to help you get started, living the change is up to you.
Know The Pitfalls
Success in dieting often means acknowledging what food you have a weakness for (I’m looking at you, Snickers bars) and building the habit of keeping that food at arm’s length. Success in organizing isn’t much different.
Morris says she sees people who start to get organized and then fall back into clutter because they don’t establish the new habits necessary to support and maintain the reorganized space or system. “We have to establish the habit of organization. When we neglect the necessary repetition of a new productive habit, it’s easy to revert back to the comfortable old habit and then blame the system or ourselves (or even the ‘organizer!’) and give up.” To solidify the new habit, you have to keep consciously working on the skill for up to two months. By then, it should feel like second nature.
Another pitfall that Morris sees? “Failure to respect the confines of the container.” Overloading—both in a physical sense and psychologically—can mean a short trip back down the cluttered, unproductive path. “Whether it’s a drawer, shelf or our appointment book, we have to remember to respect that it can only hold a certain amount and no more. Trying to cram in too much is a key piece that creates chaos.”
Evaluate, Then Act
According to Morris, one of the keys to successfully getting organized comes from “getting real and clear about your current lifestyle. We spend a lot of time with one foot in the past, and one foot in our fantasy future or past. That ‘someday, maybe’ mentality can cause us to hold onto things and beliefs that are no longer supporting our present needs and goals.”
For example, maybe you used to be into snowboarding, but if you haven’t hit the slopes in ten years, it’s time to reevalute letting all that gear clutter up your garage. “Once we have that clarity, it gets easier to release the things and habits that are getting in our way of a successful now.”
Is getting organized one of your new year’s resolutions? Tell us about it at facebook.com/contentmenthealth or enlist the help of an expert at blessthismessorganizing.com.