Guest post byHarriet Schechter, author of Let Go of Clutter.
Conquering clutter is about being aware of the choices you have every day and choosing to consciously avoid or limit what will complicate your life. I once received a department store credit card offer that announced in bold letters on the envelope, Say YES to MORE of EVERYTHNG!”
That’s exactly what we don’t need, I decided, and tore it up.
But that brazen command to “say YES” got me thinking about how natural it seems for many people to say yes to incoming clutterinstead of choosing to say no. Has “yes” become a reflex instead of a choice?
If your answer is (I hate to say it) “yes,” here’s how to get in the habit of choosing to limit your clutter quota.
Here are Five Steps to Making Clutter-Conquering Choices
- Be Aware. Be aware of each opportunity to make a choice as it presents itself. Be aware means “beware”; clutter possibilities may lurk behind even the most innocent-seeming requests and offers (such as Invitations to connect, “free” gift-with-purchase, and rewards programs). And be aware that you don’t always have to say no, just as you don’t always have to say yes.
- Question. Question the value of things that are presented to you as “free,” “important,” “‘valuable,” or any other highly subjective terms. For example, is it really free if it costs you time or energy? How important is it, exactly? What is the real value of a supposedly valuable offer or object? Ask yourself, “If I had never learned of this offer or item, would I be OK?
- Wait. Don’t let yourself be rushed into making a decision; most choices can wait. Use this Samurai philosophy: “Refrain until you can respond instead of react.” For example, when faced with a “Special DealBuy Now and Save!” offer for something you don’t urgently need, instead of reacting with “I’d better get this now in case the price goes up,” you could tell yourself, “I’ll wait to get this because the price may go down.
- Acknowledge. Acknowledge that you’re making a conscious choice by saying “I am choosing to…. You are more powerful when you choose than when you allow circumstances or others to choose for you. Reinforce your power by reminding yourself that you are capable of making effective choices, and acknowledge yourself for all the times you have chosen well.
- Trust. Trust that you have made the best possible choice for any given moment; let go of the choice and move on. Trust is what enables you to part with past choices instead of mourning the road not taken, allowing you to keep moving forward with confidence. It frees you from endlessly second-guessing yourself with “what-ifs” and torturing your mind with “shoulda’s”‘ which only add to your mental clutter.
As one of the pioneers of the field of professional organizing, Harriet Schechter developed a reputation as a top organizing expert. She became a popular speaker and workshop instructor, developing courses on organizing and time management for adult education providers such as San Diego State University College of Extended Studies and The Learning Annex.