Making a Fresh Start with Stuff

Running water represents freshness and change

Traditionally the New Year is a time to reflect on the year the gone by and make plans for year ahead. Perhaps you have made a New Years Resolution that involves decluttering and organising. Having a clear intention and firm plan is great way to get things done – if it works. However sometimes things don’t go as planned.

The tricky thing with resolutions is they tend to focus on the difficult stuff. Its the things we couldn’t get done last year because they are not easy for us. We want boost our chances of success by tying the job to a timeframe and adding some resolve. However with an ongoing activity like being organised, just starting and pushing through can fall down when “life happens”.

Rather than perpetuate a cycle of failed attempts, self blame, and pushing on, perhaps you could consider adopting a curious, creative, playful approach. Instead of “toughing it out” by forcing yourself in to the spare room in a “do or die effort”, you can adopt a gentler attitude and explore what’s really going on. Three common issues are overwhelm, uncomfortable emotions, and boredom.

Its confronting to face up to a backlog of unmade decisions and its easy to feel swamped. Organising plans may fall down because you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. An antidote to this is to add some structure to the task. Find a way to divide the big picture up into smaller chunks and start on one of them. You could choose to focus on a room or a category of belongings for example. There are a lot of books and blogs available on basic organising skills that could give you some ideas on techniques that you could use to tackle the task.

Another issue that can stop us in our tracks is the emotional aspect of organising. Stuff isn’t just stuff – its attached to all kinds of feelings, memories, hopes and disappointments. If you are going to be digging around in the garage you need to prepare yourself for what you might come across. If you know there is very personal memorabilia in there somewhere, plan to set it aside and deal with it later. Or plan to dig it out an deal with it first. You need to be in a good place to confront the most emotionally charged items. The most effective organising techniques work with your feelings, rather than trying to pretend they don’t exist.

At the end of the day, it might be that you just find the whole idea of tidying up a room or a cupboard too boring to contemplate. Or maybe you contemplate it, but never get to the action phase. Its the process itself that gets in the way. If this is you then consider ways to make the task personal and interesting. For example you can play music to lift your energy levels or as a reward between jobs.  You can add interest by setting yourself a time limits and see how much you can do in 10 minutes, or half an hour. You might consider how you can incorporate colours, textures, rhythms and sounds. You don’t have to do it by the book – do it your way.

These are just a few ideas to loosen up your thinking about how to have a fresh start with your stuff in the new year. Of course if you are really stuck, asking for help is also a plan. Decluttering and organising doesn’t have to be a solitary affair. Some people work best with others around or actively participating. Reaching out to friends, family, a professional organiser or even a counsellor, might be the first step to making your vision a reality.



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