Two months ago I followed through with an important decision in my life and spent the day - and a small fortune - with a personal organizer.
It was the most valuable use of my time and money all year.
I had my reasons for making that decision but the truth is that my obsession with stuff was (and is) unhealthy. I didn't have the courage to face the demons that existed in my stuff alone; I needed a professional.
So I called one up.
If you are the DIY type of person you can probably find plenty of resources to get a handle on personal home organization but here is what I learned:
- Schedule the time to do it. Schedule 8 hours. Schedule 4 hours. Schedule 30 minutes. Commit to a time and do it. The hardest part is starting.
- Find and get all of your stuff together. The grouping part of the organizing process is easier if you have everything altogether.
- Ask yourself tough questions like: What do I use this for? What do I have this for? Asking yourself the tough questions allows you to use your thinking brain to answer those questions rationally and you will be able to decide if you really need 300 pairs of shoes.
- Group like with like. Books with books. Shoes with shoes. Easy enough. For the less clearly defined groups,
- Put stuff in little plastic boxes. Clear plastic boxes have two advantages. They are see through so you can see what is in them. They have lids so that when you move it should, hopefully, be easier to pack and unpack because things are already "packed" away. Label them.
- Optimize. Ask yourself questions about the process you follow any given day. Would it be a good idea to keep your keys near your door? Would it be a good idea to rearrange your furniture so that it promotes inner peace?
- Minimize. Do you need 3 slotted spoons?
- Simplify. Can you do with less?
- Donate. There are so many charities that could use your stuff. I prefer to donate to the Humane Society thrift store but there are plenty of places to choose from. Some places (like a clothing, music, book exchange) will even pay you for your stuff.
- Recycle. If it has that little triangle recycle symbol you might just be able to recycle it. Check with your city.
- Trash. Just throw it away. This does have ecological consequences. The stuff we buy has to go somewhere after we are finished with it so think twice before you make that purchase.
In closing here is some motivation for you:
The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people. - Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
Read the entire transcript of the very famous (and very good) Last Lecture here at the Carnegie Mellon site:
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/Randy/pauschlastlecturetranscript.pdf or watch the video on YouTube http://youtu.be/ji5_MqicxSo
Interested in how to break away from loving stuff to loving life, read this great post at zenhabits.net - Love Life, Not Stuff http://zenhabits.net/love-life-not-stuff/
When to Schedule Your Most Important Work - HBR Blog Network - http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/06/when-to-schedule-your-most-important-work/
6 Powerful Questions to Ask Yourself - INC - http://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/6-powerful-questions-successful-leaders-ask-themselves-daily.html
Organizing Your Home - Martha Stewart - http://www.marthastewart.com/275490/organizing-your-home/@center/277000/homekeeping-solutions
Some of my favorite charities to donate money to - http://www.rarehero.com/2011/12/end-of-year-giving.html
Can you recycle that? - Earth911 http://www.earth911.com/