10 April 2012

More on how to declutter and organize – reduce the space available

I’ve finally completed a declutter task that’s been nagging – and nagging – and nagging!

The Easter break was fun, doing lots of fun things with friends and family. And – in the gaps I did something I often help others with. I ruthlessly attacked my most regularly-used office files.  They’re now cleaned out, pruned, filtered and organized – and looking awesome!  The one file drawer I’ve retained now holds only useful and often-accessed information.   

What a wonderful feeling of lightness as the rubbish bin filled and the file drawer emptied!  

I’m pretty good at putting away as I go so an aggressive sort-out hadn’t been really necessary until I shifted offices. However, it’s amazing what rubbish can sneak in  – it took quite a few hours.  But I was determined to complete the job before this week’s busyness began. (Organizing tip: create a deadline, even if it is arbitrary. Most of us relate better to deadlines than ‘I’ll get to it one day’ items on a task list.)   

All manner of now-irrelevant items showed up when I put a ‘get real, Robyn’ filter on myself.

  • duplicate documents
  • drafts of now-completed projects
  • participant lists also on the computer
  • seminars and webinars I’ve run. (Paper not needed – they’re also on the computer.)
  • magazine articles with content either used or now not needed
  • obsolete loyalty card information
  • other people’s business cards from trips to Great Britain, the US, Dubai, Germany and Holland. If I hadn’t done anything with them in the last four or five years I wasn’t about to start
  • … and the list goes on. 

 

Learning point:  ‘Stuff’ will expand to fit the space available. And conversely, if you reduce the space available you’ll be surprised with how little you really need.

An example: I have an upright periodicals box of materials from four business people whose mailing lists I’m on – mainly samples of their work. As I tried to cram yet another booklet into the already full box I realised it was quite similar to some of the others. There wasn’t really room on the shelf to start another box on the same topic. And then came the ‘aha’ moment – the more we hold onto, the less likely we are to look at anything. Too much choice means no choice will be made.  

So, I took some items out of the box instead of cramming more in (and threw them away).  The sense of release surprised even me. Have you ever noticed the sense of freedom as you let go of ‘stuff’?

Thought to ponder: What does ‘less is more’ mean to you? 


2 thoughts on “More on how to declutter and organize – reduce the space available”

  1. Lisa in NZ says:

    In practical terms, this means the annual clear out we do of each room in the house. I take a couple of days over the Christmas break, and I am ruthless! My bonus daughter is my trusted lieutenant and we have strict rules: “does this still fit anyone? Can it be used for a younger child? Is the toy broken? Is it still played with?” and so on. We look to recycle clothes, toys and books to friends, playgroups, childcare centres and charities.

    Doing this means we begin each year fresh and clear – and it’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate in just 12 months. Our biggest challenge? Master 5, who does NOT like us throwing away any paper he has ever drawn on or folded!

  2. Based on your awesome guidance last November, my office remains much clearer and simpler than it was (and the bookshelves still look amazing). But I took a big step a few weeks ago. I turned it from an office (where people go to do boring administrative things) to a studio (where amazing creative master works emerge). I did that by turning all my desk surfaces to face the wall, or window in my case. Bad feng shui perhaps, in that my back now faces the door – but great feng shui also in that the centre of the room is spacious and clear, and I can easily move from place to place, putting away as I finish with things, and not procrastinating quite so much. It’s also changed my mood as I enter. Love your work, Robyn!

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