Are you always doing “just one more thing?”

This summer I have been realizing that my bad habit of doing “just one more thing” is becoming a problem. 

Maybe you know what I’m talking about – it’s time to head out the door, but instead of grabbing the keys and going, you run & put in a load of laundry, start the dishwasher, send one last email, make a trip to the bathroom, or grab a book.  One more thing that you have convinced yourself will be quick & has to be done before you leave.

I catch myself doing it all the time. 

“Just one more thing”

It’s a bit like multi-tasking.  Dividing your time up & letting your energy be drawn from one thing to another.  Your brain’s not fully engaged in anything, but running from one thing to the next.  For me, this usually means that once I do actually get in the car, I’ll realize the keys are still sitting in their dish or I forgot my water bottle. 

I’m pretty sure I have tried to justified this bad habit by telling myself that I am getting things done;  being productive & efficient.  But I’m kidding myself.  And this habit comes with a cost.  Rushing.  Arriving to events late.  Watching my family wait in the car.  Making excuses.  Feeling frazzled.

This kind of thinking is also out-of-alignment with the goal of creating a simpler life.  “Just one more thing” thinking means that what you have done isn’t enough and is a mindset that there is always more to do. 

So here’s what I have come up with to shift my patterns.  Ponder these if you too are plagued by the “just one more thing” habit & feel ready to make a change.

Notice the Usual Pattern   As it gets closer to the time when you need to head out the door or switch gears, notice your usual pattern.  How much time do you need to transition?  Take note of this & make sure you are offering yourself more than enough time to move from one task to another.

Be Realistic    Do a little time study.  Notice the amount of time it takes to complete the tasks you seem to add in at the last minute.  How many minutes does it take you to put in a load of laundry, fill your water bottle, brush your teeth, or (fill in the blank)?  When you know the actual numbers, you can make a better decision.  Decide to do that one more thing & you could be that many minutes behind.

Set a Timer    Let a timer be the reminder that you have to be out the door at a certain time.  When the timer goes off, you have a cue to be done with whatever task you are on & move on.

Shorten the To-Do List    You probably are biting off more than you can chew in a day.  Shorten the expectation around how much you need to get done & the pressure to do one more thing can decrease.

Schedule Time for Those Extras    Create time in your day or week for those extra things that you have been trying to squeeze in at the last minute.  Fill your water bottle first thing in the morning or do laundry on the evening that is free from running to meetings or activities.

Create a launchpad    Make space near the door for the items that you always want with you as you leave the house.  Keys, water bottle, book, hat… whatever it is that you would usually run and hunt for when it’s time to go.  Let those things hang out, ready for you when you leave.

Your Turn…

“Just one more thing” thinking doesn’t just happen when it’s time to leave.  You might find yourself falling into this habit when you are engrossed in a project, on the phone, or out running errands.  One more thing is a habit that can create time crunching & a frantic energy.

Notice how many times you add just one more thing into the day & see how it makes you feel.  Awareness is the first step to making a change.  Start there & when you feel ready, add one simple shift to break this pattern.

Tell me what you try!  I’d love to hear if any of the solutions stick for you!

What happens when your mantra is “let go to make room for more?”

Most of my work is around letting go of physical clutter.  The stuff in closets that hasn’t been touched in years, the piles of papers lining surfaces & the dusty boxes stacked in the basement. 

It’s a physical job & I can literally feel the weight of all of that letting go as we haul out the bags & boxes.  The clearing that we do is motivation for me to keep moving forward with the mantra that letting go opens room for more

And when I say “more,” I don’t mean more stuff, even though that can happen, what I mean is more of life, more opportunities, more of what you need & want. 

And I have been testing this theory out in my own life.  Letting go of physical clutter has opened room for creativity, efficiency, & calm- all good things, but I know that physical clutter is only one area where my life can get stagnant & stuck.  I have realized that it’s time to push forward and do some purging in other areas.  So these past months I have been taking steps to let go of the voice that says “I NEED TO DO IT ALL MYSELF.” 

Gasp!  Did I really say that???

Yes, it’s true.  I like to count on ME to make things happen.  And running my own business has caused, or I could say offered me the perfect opportunity to find out how well this idea serves me.

Being my own boss gives me a chance to try doing everything there is to do.  But I am finding that many things aren’t so easy.  Lots of things require additional learning- hours looking things up, trial & error, headaches & time spent griping or backtracking. 

The need to do it all myself has become a heavy weight.  I’m stuck in another type of clutter.  The clutter of stuck thinking patterns.

And the result of being stuck is less time & energy for the stuff that I really enjoy and are the best use of my talents & skills in this work.   I have funneled lots of energy, attention & brain-power into things that could easily be done by someone with more expertise & in much less time.

It has been a slow recognition, but now I am pushing myself to really look at taking some steps forward in a different way. 

I started with “the sort” – just as we do when we have physical clutter to let go of.  I began sifting through my daily work to find the things that bog me down & keep me stuck in place vs. the things that feel easy & don’t require massive time & learning in order to implement.  I had to look back at how many times I continued to hit a brick wall & recognize that those are the places that aren’t working on my own.

And then I began to look for people to take some of the work of doing it all off of my shoulders.  It has felt a little scary to be turn over control, to ask for help & show some vulnerability with my work, but the relief feels even better. 

And just days after I let go & released the grip of doing it all on my own, more fell in my lap!  New clients were in touch, new ideas came and new doors opened in areas that make sense with the trajectory of my business.  Letting go can offer so much more.  And slowly I am interjecting that mantra into more areas of life. 

Your Turn…

Do you suffer from a case of needing to do it all yourself?  Are you ready to lighten that heavy burden? 

Next Steps…

Asking for help & support can feel hard, but if you tiptoe in with people you trust & respect, it can feel a lot less scary.  Ask for referrals or look to a friend or family member so that you can practice with people who make you feel comfortable and understood.

I like to imagine that after we let go of physical clutter, the space gets to take a big exhale –  A deep breath of gratitude for the attention & release of that stagnant energy.  The same is true with deeply held patterns of thinking.  Release a little and lighter energy will be your reward.

If you have been stuck in an old pattern & are ready to let go, but want support then push submit  below & we can create a plan to make it happen.

5 tips to decrease the gizmos, trinkets, & just plain junk that enters your life

I was picking up my son from a bday party at an arcade a couple weeks ago when I was asked this question- what do you do with all those trinkets, do-dads, little plastic toys that kids come home with from parties, school, restaurants & arcades?
 

I get these kind of questions often, “what would you do,” and unfortunately, I don’t always have a quick, easy answer.

If you have followed my blog or my tips in the past, you know that I believe decluttering is a journey, which means there are steps & stages to get you where you want to go.  You envision a goal of how you’d like things to be, but to get there it will take sorting and clearing, as well as, some habit shifts to make things really stick.  No magic pill or snapping of the fingers, sorry to say.

So when I get a question like this, that stumps so many families, my first instinct is to say “Decline those toys!  Don’t let them in your house!”  BUT, I know that’s not realistic.  I live with a 10 year old son and even though he has gotten better when it comes to letting things go and being a little more choosy, it would still be hard for him to say no when offered a gift or gadget from a friend. 

There needs to be an alternative route when that’s just not possible.  Here are 5 ways to manage or get ahead of the steady stream of gadgets & gizmos (or any “stuff” that you know you really don’t need but have a hard time declining).

1.  Set up a rule.  For every one item that comes in, one item goes out.  Implementing this rule will keep the amount from growing.  And if you want the supply to steadily decrease, then try the one in, three out rule & watch the gizmos find their way out the door.

2.  Choose a consumable item rather than an item that will take up long-term space.  This might be a time to gently push your child toward a treat rather than the neon stuffed animal or the slinky that gets all wound up after 1-2 uses.  Opting for candy or other consumables might mean your child has to spend a little extra time with the toothbrush, but the plus side is that the sucker, box of Nerds, or bag of chips is gone before you even walk in your door.

3.  Create a boundary.  Introduce a container, bin, or basket that will only hold a certain amount & when it gets full, it offers a signal that it’s time to let some go.  Let your child pick their favorites first & then let the others go.

4.  Give it a little time.  Often kids just need a little distance from the toy or experience to see it in a new light.  Let it sit for a little while (in a container or on a shelf) and then in a couple months, when the experience isn’t as fresh and the shine has worn off of the toy or gadget, it will be a lot easier to part with it.

5.  Start to change the culture by your example.  Be a leader.  Share with other families your desire to keep extras to a minimum & that you aren’t going to be doing party favors or plastic trinkets for party favors or holidays. You might be surprised to find a number of other families welcoming the idea of less is more.

Next Steps…

You can implement the tips above regardless of whether it is little plastic toys that are cluttering up your life or a steady stream of little gifts or hand-me-downs given from your most well-intentioned friends & family. 

So often, the things that are cluttering counters and hiding at the bottom of closets are the items that we didn’t really choose, didn’t feel we could refuse, or were tempted by because of their good deal.  Once they enter your space, it takes thought & effort to find a home for these kinds of items, so try one or two of the tips above & see if you notice a shift in how much you have to manage. 

Make a change in your own gift giving habits & try giving something consumable.  A bouquet of wildflowers or a decadent bar of chocolate can be just as thoughtful & won’t require long-term management.    

If you need more ideas on topics that are specific to your unique situation with stuff, contact me below.  Together we can find a way to make it all feel a whole lot easier.

A Profile in Letting GO- Kate shares her story

I like to think of the decluttering process as a journey.  A journey that can be started at any age or stage of life, but it seems to start with a nagging desire.

A desire to live with less, a desire to let go, a desire to get more clarity in order to turn attention toward a new priority.

I really only started on my journey after our family grew to 2 kids, 2 parents, a dog, and a house full of stuff! 

Stuff that it felt like we “had” to have

…because that’s what everyone said was needed to raise healthy kids

…because I didn’t set boundaries around gifts

…because I like a good sale

…because I was stuck in “just in case” thinking

I knew it was too much.  I knew that it felt out-of-alignment with my true nature- which believes that we don’t need to take more than we need from this earth or each other.  I knew I had to make some changes.  And the changes have taken courage, lots of it.

It takes courage to say you want to try a new route.  It takes courage to admit that you don’t have all the answers about living with less.  It takes courage to set up boundaries, to say no, to be choosy.  And it takes lots of courage to keep working at it when you fall back into old patterns.

I also had to realize that my journey is unique.  I can look to others for guidance, support, & inspiration, but the only person that can tell me what to keep & what to let go of, is me. 

The things that are important to me & what I want to surround myself with are going to be different from my neighbors or other friends & family,  & that’s ok.  I can let go of an idea that there is a magic number of items to pare down to or a right way.  Instead, I work to offer myself compassion, knowing that I will keep moving toward creating the spaces that feel good & support my family & I.

My journey is still in progress and I’m sure it will continue to be that way, so I’m learning to be ok with it.  I know it will get easier as habits get formed & some of my new ways of thinking/doing become second-nature.  I will trust the process.

I can still go to Target and get sucked in by a “good deal.”  I can still find myself packing our car full of snacks & supplies when we travel to appease that “just in case” part of my thinking.  I still have areas of clutter that haven’t been looked at yet, but I am offering myself compassion, because I’m taking baby steps forward on my journey.

Each shift, each act of letting go gets easier & brings me closer to my desire for simplicity & my beliefs about my place in this world.

Let’s aim for better

 

A month ago I listened to Fay Wolf, fellow organizer & the author of “New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else)”, speak on the power of imperfection in organizing.

She is a recovering perfectionist (I could relate) and the mantra that she shares with clients is “a little better is a little better.”

I like that.  I actually wish I had come up with that catchy little saying because I believe it’s true & I think more people need to hear that phrase.

When we declutter & organize, we are not striving for perfection.  If we were, we might never be satisfied.   The discontent surrounding the work would create a whole landslide of behaviors that land you right back to where you started.  That’s not what we want.  Let’s break that cycle.

When you reframe the goal & shoot for “better,” a weight lifts.  The outcome feels easier to get to & a whole lot easier to maintain.

There are so many places where we can search for amazing ideas on how to transform your space – magazines, design books, Pinterest, Houzz, and Instagram are just a few of the many places you can find images that seem like perfection.  And these resources can offer some great inspiration.  But that is all that they need to be used for – inspiration to move to you to ACTION.

Inspiration to light a spark in you to create something that works better, something that makes your life run a little smoother, something that keeps you from working so hard to manage & maintain all of your “stuff.”

With this work, let’s shoot for “better” and see how much more we can accomplish.

Your Turn…

Does the idea of perfection keep you from starting a project that you have been wanting to tackle.  Are you worried you might not do it “right?”

Next step…

Each step in the process of clearing & organizing can move you forward if you let go of creating the perfect space & focus on a space that functions better for you & your lifestyle.

How would it feel to shift your thoughts around that system, space, or project that has been keeping you stuck & tell yourself you are striving to make it better?  Not perfect…  BETTER.