I bet you’ve experienced this.
You start a clean up project. Let’s say you’ve decided to deal with clutter in your office.
Your desk is the obvious place to start.
What’s with the constant pile of papers and files on the end?
You remind yourself that your desk is not a filing cabinet for storage; it’s a space for you to work.
So you tackle the pile.
Then you realize that some of the stuff needs to go into the filing cabinet. Not a biggie, until you pull open the drawer and discover you’re staring at last year’s papers in there. 📁
Oh wait, it’s not just last year’s files. You’ve been stuffing papers into your folders for a few years now. What a mess.
That needs to be dealt with, too.
Which leads you to create a mighty heap of old documents that you’ve been keeping for God knows what reason. Do you really need to hold onto your tax return from 2008?
Time to hit the shredder.
Except that your shredder is surrounded by several boxes of family stuff that you put on the floor, intending to deal with it soon.
You know, the “soon” that never actually happens, because there is no date in your calendar called “soon”.
Before you know it, you’ve got more stuff on your floor than anywhere else and you’ve created an even bigger mess.
What’s worse is that while you were staring at the floor, you realize that’s it’s awful. You meant to update the floor years ago. Didn’t you say something about that when you first moved in?
And the lighting. It’s not great either.
Now you’re really annoyed. 😒
You sink to the floor with your back against the wall. “Maybe it’s not so bad to have a drink at 11 am,” you think to yourself.
Welcome to scope creep and overwhelm
If the scenario above even remotely describes an experience you’ve had with one of your spaces, I hear you sister! I have totally been there.
In fact, I experienced that with my own Clean Up & Clarify for January project.
Remember what I shared in my last post about my basement?
That “tool room”?
That has led me to deal with my basement closet, workout area, and guest bedroom.
Because as we all know, the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone, and so on.
When you start on one clean up project, it can quickly snowball into an overwhelming behemoth.
Here are some strategies you can use to keep you on track if that’s what’s happening in your space with your own Clean Up & Clarify project.
Get one to done
It’s hard to focus on one small area when the stuff coming out of it impacts several others spaces.
But if you don’t, you’re opening yourself up to overwhelm.
What often happens when we feel overwhelmed?
We get paralyzed.
I see this all the time with my clients’ finances.
For example, if they have debt that is weighing them down and causing them huge levels of stress, they typically want to solve the entire problem right out of the gate.
Instead of using a laser-like focus to deal with one challenge spot at a time, they try to tackle it all at once – the credit cards, the lines of credit, the loans, the works.
Then they get discouraged. It’s too much.
Their brain short-circuits and instead of making slow, continual progress, they freeze and do nothing.
The stress? It stops for no one. It keeps going.
Don’t get sucked into this trap.
Break down your decluttering project to one space.
In the example above, if changing the floor were really in your highest, best interest, then you would focus on that.
Would you create a mighty mess in the meantime?
Yes, for sure. Emptying out a room is hugely disruptive. But you would do it intentionally in order to get the most important task to done.
When I tackled my tool room, I started with one corner.
There was simply too much stuff in there to move it all out at once, so we broke it down into a fraction of the room.
When that space was reorganized as our new “sports equipment” corner, we moved onto the next quarter of the room. (I shared pics in my last post.)
And so on.
Get one space or task to done.
The give yourself a gold star – metaphorical or literal. Don’t care.
Just acknowledge your progress in a fun way. It helps to break down the task and make it more like a game.
I know this seems ridiculously obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I talk to women who were so close to making huge progress in an area, whether an aspect of their finances or a decluttering project, but they quit before getting to done.
Just. Keep. Going.
Commit to seeing it through, one space at a time.
Pull open your calendar and bake in some decluttering time.
To ensure that it doesn’t feel endless, set a timer each time and only do it for as long as you think you can stand it.
You might think that since you’re making so much progress, you might as well keep going, but doing that can lead to project burnout.
Heaven knows I’ve done that often enough.
I have a bit of a compulsive streak – think dog with a bone here. Once I start, I won’t let go. I just want to get it done, which is great until I get sick and tired of the whole thing and say, “Screw it” and walk away, promising myself to do it later.
Later = never.
Promise yourself that you won’t do that. You’ll keep at your project until it’s done.
If you’ve got a major decluttering project on the go, it helps to have cheerleaders in the wings to support you when you reach your own “screw it” point.
Get an accountability buddy on board and have her check in with you to offer encouragement and to talk you off the ledge when you get frustrated.
Share pics. She’ll see and acknowledge the progress even if you don’t.
Have you noticed how your own progress doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, but to others, it’s impressive and awesome?
Pretty much every one of my private coaching clients says to me at some point, “I haven’t done much this week…” and then they proceed to share results that have me reaching for my pompoms.
They’ve done a ton of good stuff!
Seriously, I think it’s part of the female chromosomal make-up that we undervalue our progress and achievements.
We’re great at encouraging others and lousy at doing it for ourselves.
Turn to your girlfriends or an accountability buddy.
If you live on an ice floe and feel you don’t have anyone around you who could do that for you, turn to me. I am killer with pompoms.
I will be your chief cheerleader!
If you’re a member of my Women’s Money Group, pop into our Facebook Group to get inspiration and support.
(Not yet a member? Hop into our supportive community here!)
Stay connected with your “why”
In any project like this, it’s important to stay connected with the reason you’re doing this.
You’re not just decluttering to have a nice space, though that’s a cool benefit.
You’re doing this to make space for a heap of goodness in 2022.
Earlier this month, when I first introduced the Clean Up & Clarify for January project, I told you that I’ve noticed a trend. Clients who undertake decluttering projects often have cool things happen in their lives.
I want to leave you with a story from my client, Emily (not her real name). Emily has been working hard at decluttering several spaces in her home. This isn’t just a regular decluttering project; it’s a massive job involving many stages.
I swear that every time she has a serious go at decluttering, she writes to me to share a cool story. Last week was no exception. Here’s part of what she said:
Consistent + focused daily decluttering since Jan.01. A timed hour or two, every day. I created a fun log in my planner to motivate and track decluttering progress this month.Money + gifts showed up during the decluttering process this week. A new project came in. (Already! January has historically been kinda crickets. Not this year!) Found a $50 grocery store gift card.