By Caroline Bujold
Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy and instead of doing the work that would make our lives better, we find excuses to justify the status quo.
What beliefs do you have about your world and yourself that are preventing you from decluttering, simplifying and finally getting organized?
Any of the ones below sound familiar?
1. I don’t have time
If you are always rushed, this should be your greatest motivator to start paring down and get organized. Because when you have less, when you know where things are and when you have systems in place, you need less time to maintain it all.
I know getting organized takes some time, but the benefits are abundant and immediate. Besides, if you have time to watch TV, you have time to get organized.
2. I don’t have enough space
This is the main reason people use to justify having a cluttered home. Although you might think this is a fair statement, the fact is, human beings are adaptable and we tend to want to fill empty space. So the chances are that if you had more space, you would just fill it with more stuff.
Here’s the deal, you can’t manufacture space, but you can get rid of stuff, so you feel like you have more space. We accumulate so much stuff. We think we need it all to be happy, but obviously we don’t.
3. I don’t have money to buy organizing products
Magazines would have us believe that only the spacious decorated walk-in closet and the humongous labelled-glass-jar-pantry are deemed worthy of our efforts. When I see those images, like you, I drool a little with envy. And then I think, who the heck lives there and how long is this going to stay that way?
No need to be fancy about it or spend hundreds of dollars on identical baskets and bins. Use what you have for now: shoe boxes are good for corralling small objects, cereal boxes make great magazine holders and cleaned up tomato sauce jars can serve as organizers for your pantry.
Being organized is about systems that work, not about how pretty it looks. Just do it, don’t worry about making it magazine perfect.
4. I don’t know where to start
Maybe you feel so overwhelmed just thinking about decluttering your space that you never actually begin.
Start small: one drawer, one box, one cupboard or one file. Baby steps can take you far, really far, if you trust yourself and the process.
It’s all about decision-making. How fast can you make a decision: keep, trash, recycle or donate. Don’t let analysis paralysis prevent you from getting the life you want. Just start!
5. I was born this way
Your genes might determine if you have blue, green or brown eyes or if you’re 6 feet tall of a shorty like me, but they certainly don’t determine if you’re tidy or not.
In my opinion, this is just something we’ve been told and believe about ourselves. As we get older, we keep repeating it like a mantra and therefore reinforce the belief even more.
Statements like: I’m scatterbrained; I’m a pack rat or my brain just doesn’t work that way, are just excuses we give ourselves to avoid the effort. My favourite is: I’m not as bad as ___________, like it’s a competition or something.
Look, behaviour changes are hard, I get that, and if you’ve always acted a certain way, it might take some adjusting to form new habits. But being tidy is like a muscle, the more you use it, the better you get at it.
6. I know exactly where everything is OR I work better under pressure
Sure you might be able to find that memo among the chaos that is your office, or you might get a high from achieving under pressure, but long term, these habits are not good for you. If you’re still efficient under pressure, just image what you could accomplish if your desk was tidy and you didn’t have to pull all-nighters?
If you don’t want to get organized for yourself, please consider the people around you. Work environments and family units are like living organisms. What you do and how you do it affects other people. What if you didn’t show up one day? Would the people depending on you be able to find that vital piece of paper? I’ve seen it happen, especially in event management where things happen at a fast pace, the head of medical services gets sick suddenly (no joke) and some important document can’t be found.
Be a good sport. Don’t do that to your coworkers.
7. I might need it someday
Yes you might, anything is possible, but chances are you won’t…like ever. In the meantime though, keeping all these just in case items are just weighing you down.
Do yourself a favour and get rid of all the I might need it someday and live for today.
8. My mother gave it to me
Sentimental possessions are the hardest for me but I don’t think that the intention of the person who gave you these objects was to burden you. If you’re keeping items because YOU love them, that’s perfectly fine. But if you’re keeping them just because someone you love gave it to you, it might time to let them go.
I wrote a whole post about this.
9. I just don’t feel like it
If we only did what we feel like doing, not much would ever get done. I never feel like cleaning, but I enjoy the results. I don’t really feel like sweating my buns off on a regular basis, but I feel so much better once I do.
Create a fun playlist and make your decluttering session less painful. Focus on the benefits, not the actual organizing process. Be in it for the long game.
10. If THIS then THAT
And then there is this excuse: if only this (insert what ever task) was done, then I could get organized. I call it the Once I Syndrome – once I do this, then I can do that. My husband is particularly good at tripping himself up with that one. I’ve even helped him get THIS part done so he could get to THAT other better thing. It didn’t help. It’s like thinking: if only I had a million dollars, it would solve all my problems.
Along the same lines, people often think about decluttering and getting organized in terms of something you do in one clean sweep and you’re done for life. In my experience, being tidy and having systems in place, so you can enjoy your life, is like tending a garden. You can’t expect to plant everything and never water or pull weeds.
So don’t let your old beliefs run your life and just start. The first step is always the hardest.
What other excuses do you tell yourself?