Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A different reason to declutter

Has anyone in the group ever taken a time management class? I don't know about you, but I got a real surprise when I took an online one a few years back (you can take it for free for 2 weeks, I think). I expected the class to spend the six hours talking about schedules and strategies for prioritizing tasks.

Wrong! Most of the class was about decluttering!

The class definitely changed my life. It was the first time I'd realized that I really had to get the junk out of my life. That was in November of 2011. Now it's almost March of 2013 and this month I'm going to have the first test that really challenges whether decluttering has helped me better manage my time.

This month I'm starting the Intensive Outpatient Program at an eating disorder treatment center in our area. It's three nights a week from 4:45-8:30 for 6-8 weeks. Don't forget to include the half hour it takes me to get there and then again to travel home. On Tuesdays I have guitar lessons at night, and on Fridays I swim for 1.5 hours. I'm still working full time. And I have to squeeze in two hours of dietician and psychologist appointments each week. I'm a little busy. Oh, and I made my final goodbye to my Grandmother this week**, so I'm going to have to do all of this while I'm grieving and trying to work out the complicated relationship I had with her. At least I'm already seeing a psychologist every week and we saw this coming for a long time. Fortunately my folks are both in the financial industry sto we can't try to empty out her (uber-organized yet somehow extremely cluttered) three bedroom condo until they finish tax season in April.

No, I'm not trying to play misery poker with any of you. A number of you have probably had weeks and months that were actually worse than this. But this is the craziest 6-week period I've had in a very, very long time so it's important to look ahead and plan how to deal with something that I know will burn me out very quickly. I would love your advice on how to handle crazy times like this.

I've already learned that if I'm not going to waste time on clutter and all of the problems it causes, I need to break a few bad clutter/hoarding related habits in a hurry!

1. Not putting stuff away immediately.  In the time management course, Dave Crenshaw says that you'll gain ten hours a week by avoiding "switch tasking." In other words, don't do a task in pieces. Don't let it get interrupted. Don't come home and drop the handbag on the couch and take a few things out and plan on emptying it out and repacking it later. It will take more time in the end than just doing it immediately. Touch it once, and do it now, do it now, do it now.

2. Put stuff back where it belongs. I don't have the luxury anymore of ten minutes to find my cell phone in the morning. Taking the time and mental energy to put it back in its home and to charge it at night will save me time in the morning. I don't have time to dig my clean clothes, my handbag, the contents of my handbag, my lunch, my keys, my badge and my brain out from under a pile of junk at 6:30 in the morning if I have to leave for work at 7:20.

3. Realize that I'm going to need to de-stress, and plan ways to do it that don't involve shopping, or involve minimal, strategic shopping. New toys are not going to take the stress away from this month or give me more time. Impulse purchases are going to be very tempting this month because I'm going to need to de-stress, and as I lose my eating disorder as a mechanism for coping with stress I know that some other habit will try to take its place. With me it will likely be shopping. So I need to plan days off from work to rest, self-nurturing activities like getting my hair done, and I need to allow myself the occasional, well-thought out purchase so that I don't feel deprived and then end up going on a spending binge.

Every moment I can save by being organized and by making sure that I own less stuff is more time I can spend relaxing, recuperating, and spending time with the Chief Engineer. Who definitely deserves some quality time from me, because yesterday I left the light on in the car and left him stranded when he had to go to work. So yeah, he deserves some positive attention.

What decluttering/organizing habits save you time?

**In a way, this is a blessing. She was in horrible shape on Saturday and in a lot of pain. She's lived a full life, and at this point the end is really the best thing for someone suffering so much. She'll soon be dancing with Grandpop again and that's an incredible comfort to me.


  1. Hi! De-lurking to say: it's always ok to say you have a lot on your plate. Just because others have more doesn't invalidate what you have. :)

    I have a hook next to the door, and my keys always go on the hook.

    Is there a store where you can shop and know that you'll always be happy with the purchase and use it? I have a few costume jewelry places where I can say, "I'll spend $20 at X as my reward this week" - that way, it's still considered (only $20, and at a place where I know I'll always use whatever I buy) but not so overstructured that it doesn't feel like a splurge.

    Good luck with the weeks ahead!

    1. thank you! hm, that's a good suggestion about a store where I can shop and I'll always be happy with the purchase, or at least will always use the purchase. Makeup tends to be something I'll always go through. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Hello

    What a time you have coming up! You are halfway there already because you have identified the potential issues.

    A few minutes spent in the evening to prepare your lunch, clothes and handbag so that you can grab and go would be good.

    Make a list (or two)

    Do the bare minimum to keep things running smoothly until this hurdle is over.

    I am wishing you all the best and cheering from the sidelines (as usual).

    Take care, honey. xxx

  3. Hey, thinking of you this week and over the next 6 weeks.

    I agree with organised castle. Lists, lists, lists keep me going especially when I'm super busy and am more likely to forget something. I'm about to write mine now for tomorrow! :-)

    Also the internet saps much of my time especially when I'm trying to get to bed. Really interested in that time management course, will check it out, thanks.

    All the best for your presentation!

    1. thank you! enjoy the course, it seemed well worth the time to me.

  4. Hooray for you! This is a great post for me to read as I am going to be librarianing 2 days a week and working my retail job the other 5 for about the next 14 weeks. I get Memorial Day and Easter off. As for everything else, who knows?

    1. oh my goodness! looks like we both need to build some rest into our exciting schedules. Happy librarianing from one librarian to another!

  5. Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossips and net and this is really frustrating. A good site with interesting content, that is what I need. Thank you for keeping this website, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

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    1. I don' t have a newsletter, but you can follow by email and that way you'll get emails whenever there are new posts. I'm not blogging much for the next few weeks or so, but should be back in earnest by late April. Thanks for reading!

  6. Sorry about your Grandma!

    Sounds like you've got some insanity coming up for you. I've been working so hard on those types of habits you mention, I think I am getting better as well. But like you say, the real test is when life is hectic and the easy thing to do is just let it all go, will I be able to keep up with it (i.e. in grad school program)?

    Anyway, best of luck with everything you've got going on!

  7. I'm always happiest when my life is more organized. All last week I made my apple and cheese snack that I eat at work before I went to bed so no rushing in the morning and I laid out the clothes I was going to wear. Amongst the chaos, that felt so good. It didn't happen last night so this week is off to a poor start but we can start again.

    One of the biggest reasons I downsize my crafting stuff is I can't find things that I know I have but don't know where I put, so yes, organization can be a big motivator.

    Now I wish I was at home cleaning clutter instead of here at work surfing the internet in a ploy to look busy. By the time I get home I'll be sapped of strength. It is hard to look busy all day!


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