- Make peace with taking your time. If the process takes longer than you expected, but leads to a sustainable system, it's time well spent. Stuffing things in any available space just to clear off a surface is guaranteed to backfire and might even be what created the problem in the first place.
- Expect diversions and distractions, and plan ahead. Unless you live alone, it's unlikely that you'll get through your designated time without any interruptions. And, even if you're working alone, it's amazing how distracting a pile of things you've forgotten about can be. Notes, letters, photos and notebooks can all inspire side trips down memory lane that eat up all the time we set aside to make progress. When you catch yourself going off-task, make a conscious decision about how you want to spend the time you've set aside.
- You don't have to solve every problem the moment it arises. As you sort, you're bound to find homeless items and systems that aren't working. If an immediate solution presents itself, go for it. If not, keep similar homeless items together while you keep sorting, and give yourself time to think about what might work. Chances are good that you'll uncover more items that go with that stack and, if you wait, a solution might even present itself.
- Decide ahead of time how to discard unwanted items. The de-cluttering process goes a lot faster if you have destinations in mind. If you can't toss it or recycle it, where will you take it? While it speeds up the process for every style, this step is especially important for those who have an I love stuff personal style and want to know their treasures will go to good homes.
- Keep score...or not. At the end of each session, I answered five questions: Empty space where there once was clutter? Extraneous stuff eliminated? Improvement in at least one area? Some idea of where to begin next time?
- Lesson learned: Not every item was a success every time, but every "yes" was a reminder of what I'd accomplished.
Copyright 2018 Lisa Hess
About the Author
Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Lisa’s latest book is the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.