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Getting Motivated…when the clutter is too much

I have always been amazed at those shows where people have stuff all over their house. It is so disorganized that they can barely walk from room to room. The ones that pile things on their bed and still slept in it always amused me. I never understood how they could live that way let alone let their house get that way.

I have never understood until this past week. As I blogged about before, I moved last weekend out of my apartment in Athens. It was a whole weekend process that was long and tiring. I got back late to Charlotte and had enough energy to unload my car and pile stuff into my living room and crawl into bed.

Then next week flew by with me running around doing work and personal stuff every evening. I did not get home before 10 p.m. any night. I would walk into my apartment and see the pile of stuff I had left in the living room and all the energy (what little was left) would drain out of me. All my stuff piled up was stressing me out but I did not have time to deal with it. I kept promising myself that this weekend would be the time to organize.

So the weekend rolled around and Saturday morning came. I walked into my living room (or at least to the part I could get to) and I did not know where to start. There was piles of things from my move and the week before. Things I just threw down because I did not have time to put them away. Sadly, I turned my back on it all and went into my bedroom to watch a movie.

I was procrastinating and ignoring for two reasons. I was tired and my stuff was making me tired. Thinking of the energy it would take to put everything away and thinking of how much work I had to do was wearing me out. Also, I was overwhelmed. If I have little projects to organize, it's easy. I know where to start and I know I can finish it soon. This wasn't a little project and I did not know where to start.

A movie later, I walked back into my living room. I turned on some music. I stood there and looked at my stuff. Then I decided to clean my kitchen…at least I knew how and where to start there. I cleaned my kitchen. Then, I walked back into my living room and saw a box that had some kitchen stuff in it. I knew where that went so I put it away. I walked back into my living room and grabbed a pile of clothes that went in my bedroom. I put them away. Slowly, I organized my living room by taking it one step at a time.

I seriously was not sure if I was going to be able to put my living room back together. I was not sure if I was motivated enough or had enough energy. I completely understood how people's houses got out of control. It was easier to ignore it. It was easier to put it off. It was easier to stand there and not know where to start. It was easier to fill my time with other, more fun activities.

I thought it was easier until Sunday morning when I woke up and walked into my living room and felt pride, not worry or stress. The work was so worth it.

So, if you have a big organizational problem that is stressing you out and not letting you live your life…stop ignoring it! Break it up into little projects. And don't be afraid to ask for help. My back-up plan was to call my mom, tell her my problem, and have her call me every hour to ask what I had organized. I cannot lie to my mom (she always KNOWS) and she would keep me accountable.

So get motivated and organize!

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One Response to Getting Motivated…when the clutter is too much

  1. Julie Bestry August 11, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    Absolutely true, on all counts, especially about moms just *knowing*. Lack of physical energy is one common reason for organization procrastination, fear of doing it “wrong” or overwhelm over not knowing where to start are other stumbling blocks. You found one little sticking point, the box of kitchen items, and broke through the ice from there. Small victories of motivation breed larger successes.
    Be assured, even we professional organizers can sometimes feel a momentary sense of overwhelm when approaching a room for the first time. We have the motivation, but not necessarily the certainty of where to start; we still need a little magic inspiration.
    I have a trick–I scan the room as if I were at a party where I don’t know anyone, moving my eyes from place to place until I find someone with whom I have a remote kinship (she looks friendly, he looks like someone I used to know, she’s wearing a comment-worthy piece of jewelry) and jump right in. With organizing, scan the room looking for that same opening–the item that is obviously trash, or which definitely belongs in a different room, or which can be matched up (like the rubber duckies in the children’s game “Concentration”) with similar items elsewhere in the room.
    Erin, you already found the key–motivation comes from tiny steps towards success. Good job!

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