This isn’t a book review, so much as a shameless plug for my own book. I haven’t finished reading this month’s book yet – real life interfered with plans – so I’m referring to The Clutter Book: When You Can’t Let Go instead.
I’ve noticed that people are wowed by “Before and After” photos of cluttered spaces and often look at them as evidence of great work. What does the picture show, though, except that the clutter is gone? Has it been moved out of the frame or into a different space in the house?
I worked with a client yesterday on a severely congested garage and although we didn’t get rid of anything except some empty boxes, we made a huge difference in the space flow. How? By moving things into places that made sense.
It’s nowhere near ready for a magazine photo shoot. There’s still no room to park a car (they’re storing an apartment’s worth of things for a child for a short time), but the space is much more manageable and they can access what they need. That’s a great before-and-after, in my opinion – same stuff, better outcome.
Once we were able to reach the things that needed decisions made about them, the client could discard things that no one wants and remove things that didn’t belong in the garage.
Don’t look for before and after photos in The Clutter Book, because you won’t find any. The best photos are of the hard work that you do to get your spaces in order.
Productivity continues to be a popular topic on the Internet. Here are a few articles about productivity that I found interesting:
Creativity vs. Productivity from Acton Institute
10 Tools & Tips For Escalating Your Productivity from Jay White
Staying productive in the air from OAK
Open offices create sound distractions. What Does Productivity Sound Like? from Wired
Have you practiced any techniques to improve your productivity this week?
When you work from home, you need to have a dedicated space to work. You also need to be able to answer the phone wherever you are.
I was missing calls because I couldn’t run down to my office in time to catch the phone.
Until I discovered the connect-to-cell phone from vtech. I bought mine on sale at Best Buy, but you can find them at Staples and amazon, too.
Now I can answer the business (cell) phone from the same handset as the home phone. I get to wear a swell headset that makes me feel like Madonna, too. I am much more productive now because I can talk and type at the same time. I can even talk on the phone in my backyard (not that I would be out there during business hours).
You can set up two cell phones and a home phone and you can buy extra handsets to expand to additional rooms. Just be sure to train your family not to answer the business line, if you have one.
The one place I don’t answer the phone is in the bathroom. Do you?
Karen Cheng, a You Tube sensation and creator of Give It 100,has taught herself to dance, play instruments and juggle, among other skills.
She knows that to develop new skills, you have to make a habit of practicing.
She also knows that you have to be able to give up when you’ve tried and it’s just not working. Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan.
“…it’s okay to quit. That will free you up to find something you really love… When you find something you’re truly passionate about, it will prioritize itself.”
What do you have a passion for? Set aside some time every day to work at it and let us know how it’s going.
Peter Welsh is well known as an organizer/TV personality. His on-camera style is slightly abrasive, using a tough-love approach to clearing owners’ clutter. His books are written in a manner that reveals his personality, but not in the same in-your-face way.
In this book, Peter offers real-life examples to motivate you to bring order to your life. One of the greatest takeaways I get from Peter is “It’s not about the stuff.” Clutter is created from disordered thoughts or relationships to items or inability to make decisions. Peter asks you what you want in your life. Once you decide what matters most, you can work toward achieving it.
You can simplify your life.
The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week. Letting go of a bit of clutter will be a step toward simplifying your life. Yesterday, I packed a box for the thrift shop, including things I thought I never would be able to give away. Sure, they’re attractive and/or useful, but I’m not using them and someone else can.
What is one thing you can do to simplify your life in the next week?
I write two blogs
I own two businesses
I’m listening to NPR
I’m reading Eat Pray Love
I love teaching people
I wish people would say what they mean
I miss swinging in the park
I can’t get enough pizza
I like to make art
What about you?
If you’re hiding inside your air-conditioned home, do something that will benefit you and someone else: Look for things to donate to charity.
Anything you don’t use regularly is fair game. Clothes the kids have outgrown; housewares, sporting goods, tools and garden equipment that you never use; gifts you bought but never gave – they all take up space in your house and they all can be donated to a non-profit like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans or another agency in your area.
And, of course, there’s an app for that. Here are three that can help you keep track of your charitable contributions:
As long as your items are clean and functioning, someone else can use them. Please don’t donate anything dirty, torn or broken. These groups don’t have people who are able to fix things up before they’re sold.
If you do find things that could be useful with a little work, try putting them on freecycle or craigslist. You never know what someone else might be looking for.