Sunday, June 26, 2011

50 Things Challenge: Stick With It

Tip of the Week, June 12 and 19, 2011

Welcome to the last two weeks of the 2011 Get Rid of 50 Things Challenge! This home stretch can be both exhilarating and exhausting: you may find yourself inspired to make one final push, or, on the flip side, you might be ready to throw in the towel, whether you've parted with only a few things or have come within an arm's reach of the goal of 50.

The desire to give up is one I encounter frequently in the midst of organizing projects, for both my clients and myself. By this point, the excitement of making decisions on what to clear out from your life (and then actually doing it) may well have worn off, and even if you've been reaping the rewards of a less-cluttered space and a more open life, there's a chance you've gotten used to them, making them less motivational than they were when you started.

If you find your inspiration waning during these last few weeks (the Challenge ends on Sunday, June 26), here are a few ways to give it a boost and to keep yourself going.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize. Decluttering for the sake of decluttering is effective for some, but for most of us (myself included), there needs to be a stronger motivation behind it. Take some time this week to remind yourself of the benefits of clearing from your life whatever's unwanted and unneeded--why you took on this Challenge in the first place--and then keep those benefits at the front of your mind as you continue working.
  • Think marathon, not sprint. As with any organizing project, it's almost always easier and more effective to work slowly and steadily than it is to go on a decluttering binge. Challenge yourself to find 4 or 5 things each day over the next few weeks that you're ready to part with, rather than trying to scrape up 50 things at once.
  • Enlist a buddy. You've heard me say it many times before: like exercise, sometimes organizing is just more fun (or at least more bearable) if you don't have to do it alone. Find a supportive friend, family member, or neighbor who can help keep you on track and help keep your spirits up over the next few weeks.
  • Get stuff out of the house. If you've already collected things you know you're ready to part with, make it a goal this week to move them out of the house--and no, I don't mean into the garage! Bring them to a local charity, share them with friends, dump them in the recycling, or do whatever you need to do to remove them from your space so you can really see what you've accomplished.
  • Celebrate the progress you've already made. Finally, no matter how far along you are in the Challenge, if you've managed to clear unwanted, unneeded stuff from your life, give yourself a pat on the back--and a bottle of wine, a night at the movies, a day at the beach, or whatever else will let you mark your progress.
It's natural and normal to feel slightly (or seriously!) burned out, bored, disconnected, or overwhelmed by this point in an organizing project. If you find your motivation slipping, use the tactics above to get yourself back on track for these last two weeks of the 50 Things Challenge.

Good luck, and I look forward to hearing about your successes!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 50 Things Challenge: Identify Your Triggers

Tip of the Week, May 26 and June 5, 2011

Welcome to weeks 3 and 4 of the 2011 Get Rid of 50 Things Challenge. (Missed the Tip that introduced this year's Challenge? Read it here.) I've loved hearing from Tip readers who've already been inspired to identify--and get rid of--stuff that's cluttering up their lives, and I've had a great time (seriously!) finding things in my own space that I'm ready to part with.

We've got four more weeks to go (the Challenge ends on Sunday, June 26)--plenty of time to get involved, even if you haven't yet started. For the next two weeks, I have a special mini-challenge for you, and it comes with the opportunity to earn another entry in the end-of-Challenge prize drawing. (Remember, you get one entry for the first 50 things you get rid of, and another for each additional 25 things.)

The Mini-Challenge: Get to Know Your Triggers
As you sort through things to come up with at least 50 to part with, chances are you'll start to see some patterns:
  • Maybe you discover stuff you bought not because you wanted, needed, or even especially liked it, but because it seemed like a bargain.
  • Perhaps you find yourself holding onto gifts you've been given over the years because you feel guilty at the thought of passing them along.
  • Or it could be that there are aspirations or intentions behind your clutter that you never quite get around to fulfilling. (Those tools you've been collecting? You intend to use them someday. That shelf of classic literature? You aspire to read it all at some point.)
The mini-challenge for the next two weeks is to identify what triggers you to accumulate and hold onto stuff that winds up as clutter in your life, and then to make a solid commitment to overcome those triggers.

For example, if your trigger is holding onto stuff because you aspire to use it someday, you might commit to putting a non-negotiable "expiration date" on things: if you don't use them by that date, out they go. You might also enlist a friend or family member who can offer some tough love to help you stick with that plan and get "expired" stuff out of your space.

Here's how the mini-challenge will work: email me your answers to the two questions below by 11:59 p.m. PDT on Saturday, June 11 and you'll get an additional entry in the end-of-Challenge drawing.
  • My clutter trigger is:
  • I will commit to overcoming this trigger by:
For an extra dose of accountability, you can instead post your trigger and your commitment on The Organized Life Facebook page. In addition, be sure to visit the page over the next few weeks for more Challenge-related support and updates before the next Tip comes out.

Good Luck!
Enjoy the next few weeks of the 50 Things Challenge, and be sure to keep me posted on your progress, especially as you work through the mini-challenge. I look forward to hearing what you discover!