Are you living in what Marla Scilly, aka The Fly Lady, calls CHAOS? (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Well then, join the club there are thousands, perhaps even millions of us!

I have struggled with organization in almost every area of my life for, well, my entire life. By starting this blog I hope to encourage others that they too can get and stay organized!

While it will probably embarrass my children for me to air the dirty laundry here, in full color photos, if it helps just one person along their own journey to getting organized and staying that way, it will have been worth it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Decluttering 15 minutes at a time

One of the most powerful lessons I've learned from Marla Scilly, the Fly Lady is the power of doing things just 15 minutes at a time. We all seem to be waiting for a big chunk of time to tackle that big project. But we never have a whole day or even a couple of hours to devote to it and probably never will.

At the same time we don't seem to realize how much we can accomplish in a short period of time. If you are a procrastinator, or have time management issues it is very empowering to become aware of having 10 or 15 minutes and what you could be doing with it. (If you are a major procrastinator you might want to read this article about Chronic Procrastination)

Marla encourages us to tackle our big piles and problems just 15 minutes at a time. You set the timer and go to work on it and when the timer goes off, you get to quit! That's right, even if it's not 'finished' you can quit and go do something else.

And if something is so overwhelming that the thought of even doing 15 minutes is paralyzing, you can do less! It's OK! Maybe to start on that basement dungeon all you can stand is 5 minutes. Or maybe all you can do is reach in and grab one item and deal with it. That is ok. Because the whole idea is to get you started; get you going in forward motion. Because after a short time, days or weeks or maybe a couple of months, you will have built up some wonderful momentum and then you will be eager to dive into it and get it accomplished.

I am currently digging myself out from under years of clutter. I'm doing it 15 minutes every day. That sounds like I'll never be done with the house doesn't it? Well I know eventually there will be nothing in my house that I don't need, want or love. Half the battle has been making up my mind to do it each and every day.

By working in these short periods of time on a daily basis I am building in some new habits. I'm also changing the way I think about my stuff and my definition of 'need' has changed too.

Now some people will argue that this is a paltry bit of work in comparison to what needs to be done and perhaps your house is one of those that is one step away from an appearance on Hoarders (and in that case you might think about seeking some professional help). In that case you might want to work 15 minutes daily in each room, or at least in the most important ones.

Of course we all want instant gratification and perhaps your mother-in-law is coming for a visit. In that case you could do a crisis clean ala Fly Lady. For this you concentrate on the main rooms that your company will see, front entry, living room, kitchen and one bathroom. You do 15 minutes in each room, going as fast as you can, then you take a 15 minute break, and begin again. The first time around in each room you are basically throwing out the garbage and getting all the dirty dishes corralled near the sink to be washed. You aren't going to dust all the nick knack shelves or wash the baseboards. You are just going to get the major junk taken care of as quickly as possible.

We have all cleaned house this way in the past. The problem is, it doesn't stay clean because you aren't changing your mind set or developing new habits. You might do the stash and dash today, but tomorrow you are still going to leave your shoes under the desk and your coffee cup on the desk, breakfast dishes on the table and the kids will leave who knows what in the family room.

And here is the result of my 15 minute declutter mission today. A small corner by my front door, next to the filing cabinet that sits by my desk.

Mmmm what have we here? a walking stick my friend left here 10 years ago, one, oh no, two extension cords, a wooden shelf board (I'm wondering where that was supposed to have been) the keyboard trays from THREE computer desks (because I was supposed to have trimmed the bigger one down to fit this desk....which I've had for .....8 or more years). A couple of peices of hard board, probably saved for backing paintings, 3 old [broken] 3 ring binders, miscellaneous papers and such on top of the filing cabinet and a photograph.

Oh, not to mention a whole herd of dust bunnies and a tribe of spiders.

Well, it actually only took me 10 minutes to do the part that's on the floor, then another 10 to clear off the filing cabinet, including wiping up the dust, then a quick swipe with the broom and put back just the things I need here.

So what did I keep, the extension cords, because this is the outlet I use when I use my power saw, most of the time, my good flashlight, to investigate strange noises in the night. I did set the case of printer ink that just came in over there because the cubby in the desk is not big enough for it all.

On top of the filing cabinet is the computer paper and a picture of my grand kids from about 3 years ago.

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