4 February 2013

How To Always Have A Tidy Office (or house, or garage!)

I learnt something as I unpacked my bags recently. I’d just returned from a 3-day trip to regional towns around New Zealand. I pulled out some items I needed immediately and then caught myself thinking, ‘I’ll finish unpacking later.’

‘No you won’t. You’ll do it now!’ Said the little voice on my shoulder.

With a brief flutter of resistance my procrastinating self crept back into her hole. Within five minutes the job was done, the room was tidy, and I knew I could come back into the room later without that awful sinking feeling of ‘Darn it, I’ve still got to put all this stuff away!’

I noticed something else. It’s easier to shift a moving object than a stationary one, it generates higher energy, and it’s less time-consuming. It’s when we have to go back to something that we end up in a muddle, it slows us down, procrastination becomes a familiar companion, and tidiness becomes a hard and challenging chore.

The hardest part is the decision to act. Next time, as you stand there being tempted to head down the grey tunnel of ‘slob-itis’, try one of the following strategies:

See yourself coming back into this pristine space with nothing shouting ‘You’ve still got to put me away.’ Hear the congratulations of your dearly beloveds (or surprised work colleagues if it’s a work situation). Feel your delight and joy as you connect with the freedom of no clutter. Think back to the last time you did put things away quickly. Remember your thoughts and feelings, the mental pictures and the sounds attached to that positive memory. Build them big in your memory and let the positive energy attached to that memory impel you forward into action NOW. Reward yourself. It might be as small as five minutes to sit and look at the view, take a walk outside, sit down with a relaxing book or magazine, talk on the phone to your best friend, have that chocolate you’ve hidden from yourself – whatever turns you on.

Next time, when you:

  • Complete a task at work – put away tools and paperwork
  • Return from a trip – unpack everything immediately.
  • Get out of bed – make it.
  • Dress or undress – hang things up and put the dirty washing in the basket (or ready to go out the door next time you leave your bedroom).
  • Eat something – clean up after yourself.
  • Arrive home with used sports gear – clean and store it ready for next time.
  • Finish a task in the garage, workshop or garden – clean down and put away the tools.
  • Come in from work or town with a bundle of items – groceries, post, accounts to pay, magazines to put away – whatever miscellany you typically bring home – put them straight away.

Last thoughts:
What’s clutter? Just something in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every piece of paper or equipment lying around is a symptom of a decision not made or an action not completed. Space and clutter strugglers just stop too soon – the job’s not done until it’s all put away. Just shift the finish line. Why make it hard when it could be easy – all for the sake of another two or three minutes? Capitalise on your existing momentum. Do it now!

Remember, it’s faster (and a lot easier) to shift a moving object than a stationary one!





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