Updated: Sep 16
How to actually finish what you start...
After experiencing a fast and seriously gratifying entryway clearing with a client, I reflected on what helped us finish so quickly.
Here's what I do for my own clearing and organizing and what I teach all my clients...
1 CHOOSE A DOABLE TASK
Feelings of overwhelm often come from looking at a room or area and thinking, "This is too much, I can't do this!"
Instead of looking at the whole room, choose ONE small task you can do. Those small tasks add up and they'll show your brain, "We CAN do this!"
Go through one basket, drawer, cupboard or bin
Clear one section of counter
Find one small category to go through - tea, shoes, pots, gardening supplies, underwear, tank tops, towels, paper clips...
Choose to 100% focus on the task at hand and don't let anything distract you. Using a timer and a gentle mental taskmaster can help.
Even five or ten minutes of focused time means a lot in the world of clutter!
People often tell me, "I have ADD," or "I haven't been diagnosed with ADD, but I think I have it." Whether we do or don't have ADD, we can train our brain to focus.
Our lives are full of more options in any given moment than we can focus on at once. If we're in a constant state of stress or overwhelm, it can feel like there's something wrong with our brains. And there might be!
If we never give our brains and bodies a true break - quiet with no distractions - we're training our brains to be on alert at all times. This isn't something we're built to handle for an entire lifetime.
To get an organizing task done, make the choice to focus on only that task for a set amount of time.
As my coffee is brewing I clear a counter, for other tasks I set a timer and don't let myself leave or do anything else until the timer goes off. Once I begin, I often want to finish.
Sometimes it takes every ounce of effort and a LOT of self talk to follow through! I often have a taskmaster in my brain, (kind of like a toddler teacher) saying things like...
"NOPE! We're not doing that right now, we're clearing this counter!"
"YOOHOO! Over here, we're not touching that phone until we finish clearing this area!"
"HEY! Right here, we're working RIGHT HERE right now. You can do this!"
We train our brains to be unable to focus when we constantly let phones, media, others' desires, and 'should've done that' guilt pull us away from what we really want to focus on,
Choose to focus on one thing and do whatever it takes to get it done. This trains our brain that YES, we can do this, and YES, it feels good to do it!
If you get distracted, it's ok, come back to the task and refocus.
Our brains are like toddlers - we need to redirect, and redirect, and redirect...
And we can yell at them to do this, or we can gently guide them by the hand and say, "Nope, let's replace that toy with this thing we're doing right now..."
3 DON'T LEAVE THE AREA
To help stay focused on your one doable task, choose not to leave the area you're working in. This can be a LOT harder than it sounds!
While working with the woman I did the entryway above with, I said at least 4 times, "Nope, we're staying right here!" as she started to take something in her hands inside or somewhere else.
Every time she laughed and was surprised!
It's too easy to get distracted when we move from one space to another to "put something away."
Instead, put all the things that need to go elsewhere together in a "take elsewhere" container (more on this below). Take them to put away at once only AFTER you've made a decision about EVERY SINGLE THING in the area or category you're working on.
It can take intense focus and a LOT of talking to our toddler brain, but it can be done!
4 SET UP FOR SUCCESS
To keep yourself focused and able to stay put, it helps to set up at least 5 separate containers around you for each organizing project.
Any other category you might come across
Set these up where you can literally toss things into them if possible.
Boxes are best for donations because you can literally throw things into them and then take them right to be donated.
Laundry baskets and totes work great for the take elsewhere container.
Large trash bags work if you don't have boxes or need to dump the boxes/bins into them.
5 FINISH THE JOB
Give your Future Self the gift of completing this task.
This means you make a decision about every. single. thing. and put EVERYTHING away.
Keep only the things you truly use, need, want or love. Ask yourself questions to make the decisions. Trust your Self. Take a lot of deep breaths if you feel frustrated.
Then put those things away in a way you'll keep up - or set a time to get the containers you need AND set them up so you'll maintain them.
Empty the trash and recycling.
Take the "take elsewhere" items to where they belong (if they don't have a home, put them with other items like them).
Put the donations in your car and make decision about when and where you're taking them.
Each time you complete a task, you teach that jumpy brain WE CAN DO THIS!
I believe in you!
PS: If you get stuck, reach out to me! Clients and members call and text me all the time with questions and I get them 'unstuck'.
Not sure what you need? Sign up for a free discovery call!
There's no need to stay stuck!