In my last post, I talked about my experience organizing my sock drawer, and how it turned into a metaphor for decluttering other ‘piles’ in my life. The first two lessons were really the most difficult and time consuming:
1. You have everything you need to get started; and
2. Go through EVERYTHING.
Hopefully, you were able to put these to use since last time and you’re ready for the next steps. So here they are…
3. GET OVER THE FEAR, GUILT AND SHAME
As I was sorting socks, I began to feel silly – why I hadn’t I done this sooner? Why did I have so many of them? How many times was I in a situation where I could have really used that spare change? And why did I waste time going to the post office when I had those stamps the whole time?
We often procrastinate because the past reminds us of our own shortcomings. We don’t look through receipts because somewhere along the line we told ourselves we weren’t good at accounting. We put it off because someday we’ll hire somebody to do it for us.
News flash: the Cavalry isn’t coming! Not only do you have to rescue yourself, you should rescue yourself, because only in doing it will you realize that you can! And if you do it yourself, only you have to know what you did and why.
But the amazing thing is, as you cope with your data, you also cope with your feelings. By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to talk intelligently with you accountant, your IT guy, your marketing consultant or anybody else you have to deal with to get your systems back on track. You can hold your head up proudly instead of burying it in the sand!
4. BREAK IT DOWN INTO MANAGEABLE PIECES
As I looked at the pile of socks on the bed, I started separating them into obvious subcategories – white vs. dark, business vs. casual, long vs. short, thick vs. thin.
Whatever information source you’re looking at, sort it into smaller segments, then tackle one at a time until you get through them all. Reward yourself each time you complete one of these mini-tasks, but never lose track of the big picture!
Dealing with the emotional side of decluttering takes just as much time and energy as the physical task. But without dealing with it, you’ll end up right back where you wear this time next year.
Stay tuned for more lessons next time. Meanwhile, have you found these tips helpful? Let us know by posting a comment or sending an email.