This new year I’ve been feeling really bogged down by all of the clutter in my house. I thought I would get it all cleared out during the week I was off work after Christmas but, of course, that didn’t happen.
I accidentally watched part of an episode of the TV show Hoarders last year. I don’t recommend it for anyone who has any hoarding tendencies--I’ve been horrified ever since at the prospect that I might become one of those old ladies who lives in an apartment with little paths between the stacks of newspapers. But this tendency does run in my family. My Uncle George, who was the family eccentric in my Mom’s family, apparently had an apartment like that (he also had about a quarter of a million dollars in his estate when he died—unfortunately that part of the hoarding gene seems to have passed me by).
It’s hard to launch into the new year when you’re carrying the weight of all that clutter, all those unfinished projects, all those unread magazines, all those unsorted photographs. And I’m noticing this same theme among the participants in my New Year Dreams class.
I’m hoping that this is all due to the backwards influence of Mercury and Mars both being retrograde at the same time. Madeleine Gerwick, the author of the popular Good Timing Guide says not to initiate any new projects until March 20. That might give me enough time to clear and organize my house.
I’m also reading Julie Morganstern’s new book. I’m a big fan of Julie’s work. The four-step system she explains in her Organizing from the Inside Out book has been very helpful to me. The first step is sorting, and the second step is purging. The third step is containing (finding the right space for the stuff) and the fourth step is maintaining the system you’ve developed. You can use this with clothes, with papers, etc. Over the summer, I used it with my books (and actually got rid of some--a first!).
Her new book, Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life, is more about how to get rid of stuff you’re holding onto, and she extends it from clutter in your house to clutter in your schedule to bad habits in your personal life. Again, she has come up with a simple system and an Acronym to remind you of it in SHED. First you Separate the treasures from the trash in your life, then you Heave the trash. The final two steps are Embrace your Identity and Drive Yourself Forward.
What I especially like is her focus on the end result. What are the values you are trying to manifest in your life? And do the items in your house (or schedule or life) serve your purpose/help you achieve your goals?
Once you identify the arena in which you want to work, you create a list of entry points, for instance, the pile of unread magazines, the box of unsorted photographs or the box full of old Christmas cards. Then you choose the point which will cause you the minimum amount of difficulty and get you the maximum amount of effect. This is about where I am in the book so I don't know yet how it will work out. But I have until March 20 to carry out all the steps.
Do you have a system that works for you?