take your time, do it right

I recently posted a reflection about losing weight. As people ask me about it, I find myself presenting a reoccurring theme about ‘just one thing at a time’. Exercise for example: knowing I don’t stick to a lengthy regime, I do one set of exercises a day. Just one thing. Yesterday I had a conversation with someone about clutter (mental and tangible). I mentioned my ‘Half hour Go’s’ exercise that I’ve written about before and thought of applying that to decluttering. (Also check out this other post on decluttering.)

We’ll clean when we have to. The bathtub, toilets and the kitchen counter. The essential surfaces. But then there are the bulging drawers and piles of papers falling over. If only the clutter wasn’t there to begin with, then there wouldn’t be this additional load that keeps reminding us that something isn’t being taken care of. Hmm…sounds like body image! Plenty of makeup and clothing to disguise what is happening underneath.

Our house still has a few shelves of books that don’t get used. The closet needs to be restructured so that it’s more efficient. But overall, the minimalist approach has kept our place calm. On my body I have some fat on my belly and a few lumps and sags here and there but I have reached a level of satisfaction. Reshaping my body measurements had been a goal for a long time. I just wasn’t ready until now. Check. Then I took 3 months to slowly change and I did it with an hourly group weight loss challenge class every week and a strategy for awareness to just keep an eye on what I was eating. Check. Now my internal house is in a good place that just requires daily maintenance. Check. I don’t look like a minimalist all white condo – I look like a house that’s happy, safe and strong.

So steady as she goes with the house decluttering. First, you have to be ready. Whatever you need (coaching, therapy, a good heart to heart with a friend over a glass of wine ;-)) get to a place of understanding about what the clutter does for you. (And ask yourself, if you say yes to clutter, what are you saying no to?) Set an alarm for half an hour. Even just 15 minutes. Rest your eyes on a particular area that needs some attention. What tools do you need? A garbage bag? Cardboard box? A friend to take it away for you? What is your goal for this timeframe? To throw things into the trash. To donate. To sift through and just put into piles. Tomorrow you can go through one pile. Leave a pile for the next day. Take your time. Breathe through it. And imagine your end goal. Keep it simple. Being able to feel proud of your space to invite people over is a wonderful idea but it’s tempting to feel discouraged if it takes a long time to get there. How about envisioning the calm you will feel when this table is cleared off. That floor space will allow you to put a chair by the window and enjoy the view. Keep it simple, take your time and do it right. Get to a place that works for you.