When we want to organize the house, organize our schedules, organize our lives, where should we even begin?!
Begin where you are, not where you wish you were.
Whether we’re talking about life goals or housekeeping goals, we can’t begin where we want to be. We can’t decide on our ideals, write out a system, then jump into the deep end.
If you have a 9-year-old who isn’t yet reading fluently, you can’t hand him James and the Giant Peach and ask him to write a book report on it. It doesn’t matter if, in your plan, he should be able to. He can’t, and you know you work with your own child where he is to help him learn and improve. He needs to get solid on the basics and take small steps of progress before he can reach fluency.
Well, it is the same with housekeeping. If you are not fluent in cooking or cleaning or any of the other skills involved, then it doesn’t matter what plan you try, you will struggle and it will feel beyond your ability. But you – and your ability – are not beyond hope.
You must start where you are. Clear the decks to regain some order in your current home. Assess where you are, then move to clear your home and your head enough to reach some clarity about the best way to move forward from here.
Then start in the kindergarten level of housekeeping, not the graduate level. All these things are skills that require practice – practice makes perfect and you’re not going to be good at them without putting time into doing the reps – just like any other skill.
Clear the Decks: Home
Laundry piles up so quickly. Set aside a day, get an audiobook or podcast and get back down to a reasonable amount – laundry is never done! You’re setting yourself up for failure and discouragement if you tell yourself your goal is to finish the laundry, ever.
Get some clear visual space. Simply move the piles to some other area without dealing with them if you have to start with a tiny baby step. Get some clear space in your work area and just see the effect it will have on your mood and your ability to handle things.
Order brings calm. Start with one space – the bar, the island, clear it, and sit back and really look at it and notice. Drink it in. Take a picture. Taking the time to stop and see the space cleaned has been a huge help for me as a recovering messy. I never even noticed how bad things were! Taking the time to see the cleared spot helps me recalibrate.
Clear the Decks: Papers
Find, take care of, then file, those bills & important papers. Take care of anything likely to explode. Set up a command center so those papers that will cause trouble if lost have a home. You can check out my kitchen command center set-up to get some ideas (creating a command center of your own is one small piece of the Simplified Organization Self-Paced eCourse)
Toss all the accumulated, unimportant, irrelevant papers. Throw away all you can!!
There’s no worse enemy to feeling on top of your home than keeping every single magazine or newspaper or catalog or junk mail. Throw away as much as humanly possible and reclaim that space. Every time you see a pile, your mind wonders if you should do anything about it. Stop that internal chatter you don’t even realize is happening by eliminating the piles or giving them a permanent home (that is, making a decision about them)
Clear the Decks: Your Head
If you don’t keep a calendar that you can trust, you will always have an underlying stress, wondering what you’ve committed to that you can’t remember. Keep your calendar free of wishful thinking yet accurate in telling you your appointments and the hard lines of your day.
A brain dump is how you declutter your head, acknowledge what’s there, and get it out so you can deal with it. It is a key strategy to maintain sanity and clarity as you deal with all that life tosses at you. Even if you’ve done one before, it is a go-to strategy anytime you start to feel like the crazy-making is building in your head.
In this video, I give several tips for a brain dump:
And if you’d like instructions and prompts to make sure your own brain dump is thorough and productive, download my free guide: