3-Step Clean Sweep Program
1 - Purge
2 - Simplify
3 - Organize
Springtime is when many folks give their homes and offices a good cleaning. For every thing there is a season, and this is the season to get rid of the winter cobwebs. The hardest part of this project is deciding where to begin. The second hardest part is to get started. There is always more to do than time allows and thinking about it can be overwhelming. But, who says it all has to be done in the springtime? Choose what works best for you. Do one room a month or consider cleaning and organizing all the closets before you tackle drawers and shelves. You can establish the program and schedule the time. Remember, organizing is all about changing behaviors and making wise choices.
Before you jump up and dig right in, take time to plan the attack. Organize your thoughts first and then the action stage will be easier. For every hour expended in the planning stage, three to four hours are saved in the execution phase. Spending a little time to save a lot of time is very good advice. So let’s begin to plan.
1. Plan it on paper - Make a list of target areas.
2. Divide and Conquer - Break down large areas into small tasks and determine the action steps necessary to complete each portion.
3. Supplies - Having the right tool for the job makes the task so much easier. Be sure to have ample supplies on hand—garbage bags, storage and recycling boxes, cleaning supplies, rags, step stool…
4. Schedule - Make an appointment with yourself to complete each bite-size area. By now, you are in the habit of scheduling 15-minute blocks of time to accomplish specific tasks. Make and keep those daily appointments with yourself to tackle the clean sweep chores. The process of scheduling converts wishful desires into a commitment.
Step 1 - Purge
Overabundance is a waster – a waster of time, money, space and energy. With too much stuff you waste time looking for what you want; you waste money for storage, maintaining, insuring…; you waste precious room for items seldom or never used; you waste energy just thinking about getting it all organized.
When you take the time to reduce the number of things you have (purge), you will automatically increase the available space for the things you truly love and use. Why would you try to find room in the closet for ten pairs of sneakers when actually you only wear the two newest pairs? For what reason are you keeping the extras? Are you making wise choices with what you actually store? A positive benefit of purging is the release of claustrophobic symptoms. That’s right! When useless clutter piles up, you panic and take flight.
Instead of running, think attack mode. Take time to get rid of things that are broken, worn out, unused or unloved. No doubt, you will come across the obvious stuff to toss, but not everything needs to be relegated to the landfills. There are plenty of places to recycle useable items. http://www.organizingresources.com/pressreleases/recycle.htm
Letting go means increased space and less time searching through clutter. You may also find your budget receives a big boost now that you do not have to maintain, insure and store unused items. Selling items or giving as a donation will reap the benefit of increased cash or a tax deduction. Purging benefits! Remember that more than three of anything constitutes a collection and there are always strings attached—storing, cleaning, repairing, insuring and on and on. You can control clutter only when you have less of it. Vow to save only what you can manage.
Step 2 - Simplify
Life has become incredibly complicated. We have more choices regarding work, family, friends, education, self-development, homes, furniture, food, places to eat, hobbies, travel and on and on. In today’s fast-paced world, there is too much to do, too many demands, an overload of information and way too little time. There are opportunities every day to make more commitments and with each new commitment, we lose some space – environmental, physical, emotion and mental space.
Simplicity does not mean living an austere and stark life. It means being aware of the illusions of necessities. Simplifying is a choice. You get to decide what simple living means to you. Basically, it means to add joy, fulfillment, passion and love to your existence while eliminating those things that drain you of time, money, space and energy. You can choose to appreciate people, places and things in your life. First purge, then simplify and the process of organizing will be much easier. There will be more breathing space.
You can control clutter only when you have less of it. Unfortunately, many of us find it easier to be buried in clutter than figure out a way to take care of it. Panic sets in when you look at all you have accumulated and wonder where to begin to clear the spaces. Recognizing the fact that you are held in bondage to your possessions will precipitate action to simplify. Let go and feel the freedom!
Step 3 - Organize
When you start the organizing process think retrieval, not storage. The ultimate goal is to be able to find what you want when you want it. Purge the excess, broken and useless stuff and then simplify the remaining items by letting go of the unnecessary. Spend a little time deciding what is truly important in your life. Avoid playing mind games with the belief that it may be useful someday. Beware of the words like someday, maybe, should, somewhere, somehow… Such thoughts only add more pressure to keep items that really add nothing to your life’s purpose. Ask yourself when was the last time you used it and under what circumstances would you need it again. Remember this is all about choices!
Now you are ready to organize those things that you choose – things that are useful, beautiful and add joy to your life. Start with existing storage space first (closets, drawers, shelves). You will discover more room once you have purged the unwanted and simplified the clutter. Refrain from adding new storage areas. New or expanded storage units simply create more places to accumulate more clutter and ultimately disorganization.
A well-organized closet (as well as drawers, bookcases, desk, kitchen, office, car, garage…) saves time, money and effort. Why are you keeping so much? Think about the 80/20 rule – Pareto’s Principle. Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) stated that 80% of work is accomplished by 20% of the people. He was a revolutionary thinker.
You can apply his principle to the clothes in your closets. Simply put, 80% of your clothes are rarely worn. In other words, 20% of the clothes in your closets are worn the majority of the time. So scrutinize the 80% for usefulness and begin the purging process. Deciding what to wear in the morning will be easier with an orderly closet of those frequently worn outfits.
This same idea can be useful when you inspect your files, kitchen cabinets, garden tools, office supplies and every aspect of your life – 20% of your stuff is used frequently, 80% rarely or never. Be willing to discern the importance of 80% of the stuff you have accumulated over the years. Purge the broken, unwanted, unloved and unnecessary. Recognize the important 20% and vow to maintain only those things that you love, that you use and that bring joy to your life.
Finally start the organizing project by gathering and storing objects in the places they are used. The result is that you can easily find what you want when you want it. Strive for ‘one-motion’ storage. When you open a cabinet, closet or drawer and reach in to retrieve something, you want to do it with one hand and without having to move things around. Avoid piling. A good rule is never stack more than three pieces.
Henry David Thoreau defined clutter when he said he would rather toss an object that was in his way than continually move it around just to dust. He knew what he wanted to do with his time - wander the woods, write books and philosphize about life. What do you want to do with your time?
Judith Kirk provides hands-on and coaching in simplification and organizational mastery. She uses a holistic approach to teach life management skills and assures an immediate physical, emotional and psychological payoff when chaos and clutter are eliminated. The impact of simplifying and organizing renews the spirit and builds confidence. Order is the foundation upon which to build inner peace, contentment and joy in life. Subscribe to FREE monthly newsletter on website www.OrganizingResources.com