I was talking to a friend of mine and she was explaining that she is so overwhelmed with the clutter in her home that she does not know where to start. She feels like her living space is out of control. There are continuous mounds of laundry, dishes piled up, odds and ends on the counters, piles on the coffee tables, toys from one end of the home to another, and a kitchen table that has not seen a family meal in some time. Sound familiar?
I have looked around my house and been there. In that moment, you are almost paralyzed. You know what you need to do in general – get your house back in working order. When it gets to this point, it can be far to overwhelming and anxiety provoking to even know where to begin.
Here are a few simple things you can begin to do today to beat the overwhelm with out actually trying to purse, organize, or clean. Now, you are probably wondering how anything that does not fall into one of these three categories will help you, but it will. When you are preparing for an exam, a presentation, and interview, you do not just jump in and do it. In most cases. Successful individuals prepare for the big task at hand.
So how can you prepare, start taking action, and beat the overwhelm?
First, get your Nancy Drew on and start looking at your home like a detective. Yes, Sherlock Holmes it up, Ladies! When you start to observe where your kids or husband are tossing their belongings, you will get a sense for where you can implement an organization system. For instance, you may notice that your kids throw their laundry on the floor in the bathroom or in the hallway. Not ideal right?
Simple solution. Place your hamper or laundry basket in this location. It is already a habit for them to place their laundry there, so they will likely not even notice that you have cleverly placed a hamper in this location.
Another thing to place close attention to is what is being left out. You may notice mail piled up, bills that need to be paid, batteries, cleaning supplies, or specific toys that are consistently left out. Do these items have a place? If you cannot answer that within about 30 seconds, then they likely do not have a place or their location is not intuitive to those in your home.
Organization is process, so you may need to move locations once or twice until you find the ideal location, the sweet spot, where the members in your family will put the item in its proper spot. Do not forgot to ask the members of your family where it would make sense. Often where it may make the most sense to you may not make the most sense to everyone else.
Start “shopping” your home. Take a mental or actual inventory of what items you have and how you can use them to organize. It may not come to you right away. This type of thinking or using your good ol’ imagination takes some time for items to begin to look useful until you flex this muscle more often. It is like anything you have to exercise it.
After this the work starts to begin. You have gathered your intel and you are ready to execute this mission like a BOSS! Take a deep breath, keep your notes in hand, and start acting. This is where the purging, cleaning, and organizing come in. But you are prepared. You are ready to conquer your clutter.
Make a plan to start chipping away at the clutter. Do not spend anything right away. Yes, I know it can feel good and maybe even motivate you to go out and purchase a bunch of new containers and organizers. Resist the temptation. You may spend money that you did not need to after all and it may add to your clutter/overwhelm.
Also, when I say make a plan, do not go ahead and make a long list of everything that needs to get done. Sometimes, this too can add to your overwhelm and inhibit productivity. This is the opposite effect of what we want.
Instead, make a plan with your family and say we will spend 30 minutes per day on the house. Let’s start in the kitchen. Keep the focus to a high level. Do not get caught up in the details of everything that needs to be done or you will abort the mission.
Of course this may look different to you based on your time and personal needs. The idea here is that you do not set yourself up to fail. If you say I am going to purge, clean and organize the entire house today you may overwhelm yourself or just not be able to complete the tasks. When you are in this place, this will only make you feel like you are a failure and actually again cause you to lose motivation.
Set a time limit. Maybe it is 15 minutes per day or 1 hour per weekend. Whatever makes the most sense for your schedule. Be realistic. This is process. When setting this limit, I recommend setting a timer for the set aside time. After the timer goes off, you could allow yourself to continue working, but you certainly do not have to. You did what you said you wanted to do.
Next use your notes as you go. You have spent some time mapping out your home. You know your pain points, the source of your clutter, and where your family likes to put their belongings. Your detective work will come in handy as you work through each room.
Begin with purging a specific area. Remember you are giving yourself a time limit. If your time limit is 15 minutes, then make you focus on purging one cupboard in your kitchen. Determine what your family needs and if it is not serving you then eliminate it. Make sure you have a box or bag to donate, give away, and toss.
Once you have purged, take a look at what needs to go back into that cupboard. Do the items makes sense to be stored in this location? Will they get the best use in this location? If there is a better place to put them, either neatly place them back in the cupboard or in a separate box to rehome after its new area is clear of clutter.
When you are putting your belongings back into their most functional home, determine if you need and organization materials. You may or may not. You have likely purged some materials, so it may be as simple as placing them in the cupboard neatly or more organized. If you feel like you need some organizational materials, such as a bin, basket, or self, then make note of it. A list will help prevent you from overbuying. Also, make sure to measure the space you are looking to organize. You do not want to purchase something that will not fit properly in the space or hold the belongings you need it to.
You will continue to work through each cupboard, closet, drawer, and room in this manner. With achievable goals, comes effective results! Also, taking these small steps will help prevent overwhelm, increase your energy, and decrease the cost of materials. If you do need to purchase materials for your home, you may find that it is more cost effective to spread out these purchases or look for simple items that can be repurposed.
I know where you are sitting and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will find your energy again, your floor again, and take control of your home. Your relationships will improve and your mental health will too! You will start to thrive in your motherhood and that is a beautiful gift! Likely one of the most beautiful gifts you can give to yourself and your family.
Take action today and begin to slowly chip away at the clutter in your home. As always, I am here for you friend and I know you have what it takes to stop surviving and start thriving!
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Have a blessed day!