Distraction Versus Decluttering

distraction versus decluttering

In the war against clutter, it’s distraction versus decluttering! Over the last while, I’ve noticed a habit that some clients are doing that are prolonging their decluttering and making the situation worse for themselves! One word: DISTRACTION. They start, get distracted, leave a mess, come back to it a while later, can’t remember what they were doing and either continue (but by now the task has become twice as long as it needed to be) or they dump the stuff back in the box and say they’ll “come back to it”.

For example,I was working with a client on a spare room. As always, I do a preliminary sort first. I take a look at things, and create a “rubbish” box – items I think need to go. It speeds things up, and takes a lot of pressure off the client. We’re up and running! Honestly, usually in this box really is nothing but rubbish. I then say to the client “ok just have a look at that small box there, I think these items can go, but throw your eye over them first and confirm that. Anything you want to keep, pull out and let me know”.

So the client got to work. But then a call came in and she took that. Some items where on the floor to her left for recycling, some were to her right which were unexplained to me as she had taken the call and some were still sitting in the box. She returned a while later, answered some of my questions on other items I had pulled out and then the doorbell rang. Returning again a few minutes later, we discussed some furniture in the room and then she had to bring her child to a friends house. All the while, the mess was still on the floor. Now, I’m able to continue with my job, it’s totally fine but it was only about two hours later when I asked her to sit down and continue with the box that she actually did. This was a small box, with rubbish in it. A quick job. A quick win. And it took over two hours to do.

Now while I’m there it’s totally fine, because I’m keeping an eye on it, and I’m able to move the progress along around it. That’s my job & what I’m there for. But it struck me that when people are decluttering by themselves, having distractions interrupt the decluttering really does prolong the process and make it a lot more painful than it needs to be.

One of the many benefits of having an Organiser with you is that we keep you on track and minimise distractions. Or if a distraction does pop up, we can veer you back to the job at hand. The “delayed task” always gets done, and doesn’t interfere at all in the session, but I often wonder, what other tasks are left half done in the person’s life? Do they realise they’re making it much harder on themselves? Do they recognise that they’ve made a mess on top of a mess? That they’ll have to come back to it later anyway? I sometimes want to put my hand on their shoulder and cry “Get out of your own way!!!”

What messes do you leave that don’t need to be there?

What quick win do you end up turning into a slow job?

We’re all guilty of multi-tasking! It happens. But when you have a lot to do – like clearing out a spare room – focussing on one task a time is the fastest way to get things done.

Some people with ADHD have spoken to me during consultations and have highlighted that they find it hard to concentrate on tasks. Other clients have said they’re great at starting projects but not finishing them. While the former, is something we’re born with and must develop strategies to cope; the latter is either a perfectionist mentality or a fear of success. A self-sabotage idea, whereby subconsciously, the client will continue to delay a project unless everything is lined up perfectly first. Depression also plays a part in scuppering your decluttering plans. A vicious circle of “if I decluttered, I wouldn’t feel so bad, yet I feel too bad to declutter”. It’s very hard. All of these situations hugely benefit from an Organiser with them to make sure they’re looking at the stuff that will move the decluttering needle and help them focus and get to an end result.

Of course, laziness plays a part too. Some people just don’t like the job, don’t want to do it and don’t see the value of it. Nothing I can do there.

Whichever category you may resonate with here, one way or another, if you’re struggling to declutter, keep reading for some more mindful methods to help keep you from making the mess even worse for yourself.

Firstly, when decluttering, you must create VERY CLEAR BOUNDARIES of the items you’re sorting. Use post-it notes to identify what is what. When you are decluttering, have a section of the room (or the room next door) where you can spread out. Create a zone for recycling, a zone for rubbish, a zone for donations and then a zone for items you’re keeping. In that way, IF you get distracted, when you return you can pick up from where you left off. It’s clear what is what.

Other tips that might help:

  • Turn the phone off – need music, use the radio or laptop
  • If possible, line the decluttering up with children being minded or asleep!
  • Don’t zig-zag – if you find items that belong elsewhere in the house, create a pile and distribute them later. Stay in the room you’re working on.
  • Don’t book handymen, gardeners or any other work in at the same time you’re decluttering. This needs your attention. You may be stuck for time and need to schedule all the work in on  the same day, which is understandable, but then adjust your decluttering plans – you probably could do the hotpress that day but not the spare room.
  • Most importantly, whatever time you think it’s going to take, plan that it will take double that!

I encourage you to start observing yourself.
Catch yourself if you are getting distracted. If you’re in one task, stay in that task.

Let me know if this resonates with you?

Happy Organising!

Talk to Sarah about how to make your home organising project easier

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