Each month, Girl Tribe Gang asks one of our members to share a few pearls of wisdom with us in our Knowledge Exchange. Below, Kate from A Tidy Mind explains how we can save time in our home and work lives whilst creating a more calming and organised environment.
As a Declutterer, Organiser and Life Coach, I combine practical and emotional support when working with people. It has to be a nuanced approach – after all, we’re all juggling so much on a daily basis these days that when overwhelm sets in, we need to look at our lives in a holistic way.
One thing I’ve learned about clutter is that it’s never just about the stuff in our homes; it’s as much about the stuff in our heads too. So, whilst I’m never happier than when I’m organising a garage or knee keep in clothes during a wardrobe declutter, I’m always ready to call out mental clutter too. Whether that’s useless thought patterns, too many commitments on the calendar, time bandits or even toxic people….
The thing with ‘space’ is that we only have so much of it. Be that, space in our homes, head space or space in our diaries. This is especially true for female business owners – it can feel as though we’re being bombarded with stimuli from all angles.
Over the last four years of working with overwhelmed people (and at times feeling pretty overwhelmed myself), I’ve noticed there are some guaranteed ways to clear a way through the mess and the stress of modern life. These principles can help you if you want to achieve goals such as starting or growing a business. But they can also help you simply achieve a calm and peaceful centre.
Create a home sanctuary
Some women have successful businesses or careers, run their children’s schedules and social lives like top CEOs and still find time to fit in a couple of spinning classes a week. But yet their homes are overwhelming. They have too much stuff, not everything has a home and the storage is all wrong.
It can feel chaotic and at the end of the day, they don’t return to the refuge they deserve.
I think that creating a calm and ordered home is an important part of self-care. Knowing what you own AND being able to locate it is more powerful than people think it is. And creating an aesthetically pleasing look can’t be underestimated.
Everyone deserves a home which makes them feel both inspired and relaxed.
Protect your energy
Our energy is finite so we have to expend it on things which are valuable to us. Beware of being a ‘busy fool’ spending disproportionate time on tasks that aren’t actually moving you forward.
Also, be aware that some past-times and even people can actually deplete your energy at a faster rate. If you’re an introvert for example, too many social events could exhaust you.
Be careful who you surround yourself with – trust your intuition in terms of how others make you feel and avoid negative and passive aggressive people like the plague.
Let go of perfectionism
Perfectionism has long been thought of as the key to success but in fact, it hampers achievement. The goal of being perfect is self-destructive simply because it doesn’t exist. It’s an unattainable goal so it will inevitably prevent you from starting a task and hold you back, simply because you are afraid the outcome won’t live up to expectations.
Replace it with healthy striving but mixed with resilience i.e. an ability to bounce back when things go wrong. It’s about accepting that there will be difficulties and failures along the way but that if you learn from these and most importantly, keep going, you will continue on the path towards your desired outcome.
Get clear on your priorities
I often meet women with to-lists longer than their arm but there’s a complete lack of prioritisation. Since the only way to get things done is complete one action at a time, be selective and give certain goals a priority over others.
Divide your tasks into sections of the grid below:
Focus on doing Urgent/Important tasks and plan when to do Non-Urgent/Important ones. Delegate or eliminate Urgent/Unimportant actions and eliminate Non-Urgent/Unimportant ones. It can help to make a vision board and decide exactly what you want your ideal life to look like. Then ensure your to-do list prioritises tasks which are going to make you move closer to that vision.
Procrastination is a genuine blocker to productivity, stealing time and draining emotional energy. So how do you kick start action against something you’re putting off? There’s a helpful technique called ‘ask and chop’ which I recommend when you’re confronted with a task that feels too overwhelming to even start. Ask yourself: What is the first step that needs to be taken? Then simply focus on chopping off that first step by completing it, then repeat the question. By chopping away the task in small steps, you’ll make progress without being intimidated by the scale of the larger project.
Adopt the right habits
Many people have a goal of ‘being more organised’ but on its own, that’s WAY too big. Their brains don’t know what that means so they inevitably fail and assume they’re just not that sort of person.
Being organised simply consists of numerous small habits. On their own, they are achievable even for the busiest of people and collectively they move the internal dial towards being more organised.
Adopt habits such as packing your bag and preparing lunch the night before, hanging your key on a hook when you walk though the door or emptying the dishwasher before you go to bed.
Don’t waste money
In the modern world full of ingenious inventions and clever marketing, there’s always going to be temptation to part with your hard-earned cash. But before you buy, it’s worth exercising a ‘purchase pause’. Letting the idea settle and sit with you rather than acting impulsively will ensure you’re intentional about what you buy and you get maximum value for your outlay.
Say no (or at least pause before saying yes)
Sometimes people like to pass on possessions to us and we can feel obliged to accept them. But everything we choose to accept needs to be stored and maintained and considered in some way so don’t be afraid to refuse someone else’s clutter.
Like your possessions, how you spend your precious time should always up for question. If it isn’t a useful, valuable or enjoyable experience, consider decluttering it. We all have the same 24 hours in the day and we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to get the utmost value out of each one.
Always control what you allow into your space and remember it’s about quality over quantity. If it ever feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, consider giving your life a self-audit and let go of things that don’t matter.
Kate’s top 5 tips for a clutter-free, organised home:
1. Have a plan of attack
Don’t try to declutter your whole house in a week – you’ll exhaust and overwhelm yourself. Declutter in bite-size chunks of between 30 minutes and a couple of hours. Focus on contained spaces such as a drawer, cupboard or shelf. Arm yourself with paper and a pen to make notes of ‘actions’ and designate rubbish, recycling and donation bags.
2. Start with ‘storage’ areas
Lofts, basements and garages are prime locations to stash something quickly to avoid dealing with it. If you’re serious about clearing your clutter, start with these areas first and then you’ll have enough space to store things that you actually need.
3. Make a decision
In my industry, we say that clutter is often a result of decision delay. It can be hard to decide about what to do with some items and seem easier to pass them by. But by pushing through that challenge, that’s how you will see real results.
4. Have a place for everything
Assign a permanent ‘resting place’ to each and every possession, especially for items which tend to accumulate in ‘clutter hotspots’. For example, if school stuff accumulates on the kitchen table, create a ‘homework’ box on a shelf for each child.
5. Don’t walk empty handed
In a modern home, things are constantly being used and moved so you need to consistently put things back in their ‘homes’. The easiest way to do this is to tidy up as you move through your home. It negates the need for a big, overwhelming tidy up and your house will stay in order.
Author bio: A Tidy Mind covers the Yorkshire and Derbyshire area and is soon expanding to Warwickshire and Glasgow. There are different packages available at www.atidymind.co.uk
Connect with Kate & free resources
Join the Facebook group for people on a journey to an organised home and simplified life.