Organized Mom on September 3rd, 2008

Clutter can come in many forms. Too many emails. Too many projects. Too much stuff. In a society that encourages consumption over production, it’s easy to collect too much of everything.

Overloading ourselves

We feel that information gives us power, so we subscribe to hundreds off RSS feeds. We have to keep up on the industry, our competition, trends, cool stuff, and our guilty pleasures. We read every email that comes through our inbox, even though we really don’t need to. We take on bunches of projects because we’re afraid to say no, and then panic because we have so much to do — and don’t know where to start. We see something on sale and buy it. Not because we need it, but because we saved money!

It all adds up to clutter, doesn’t it?

Simplifying
What can we do to clear our minds? Our desks? Take it in small bites.

Reduce your RSS feeds. Are you subscribing to more feeds than you can read? Do you have more than 5 unread posts on any site? When was the last time you read it? Even if it contains important info, if you’re not reading it, how can it help you?

You can mark everything read and start over, or you can delete the feed. Try marking it. If the list builds up again and you don’t read it for a week or two, it’s probably time to drop it.

Take a hard look at your projects. If you have more projects than time, you’re not going to give any of them the attention they deserve. What can you drop? What can you delegate? Are your kids old enough to help?

This is where a mother’s helper can come in handy. Yes, it costs, but if it frees up your time for just a couple of hours so you can get some projects done, isn’t it worth it?

Be ruthless in culling your email. Subscribe to a bunch of email groups? When was the last time you read them or found useful information? Set up an email rule to send them to a folder. See if you miss them. If you don’t, unsubscribe.

Do you really need to read every email that crosses your path? Probably not. Scan them when you’re processing your inbox (you DO have a plan for processing email, don’t you?) and decide right then if you need to do something, if you need the information for later, or if you can dump it. Services like gmail make it easy to every single email, but you don’t really need to go back and look for cousin Mike’s joke email, do you?

Stop collecting “stuff.” Just because it’s on sale, even if it’s a coveted favorite office supply or kid’s toy, doesn’t mean you need it. If you haven’t touched something in two years, will you ever? Dump it or donate it. (I’m not talking about important records. Just “stuff” that gets in the way.)

I am extremely guilty on this one and I need to work on it more. We have a very small place and not a lot of storage. I have to go through things every quarter and see what I’ve managed to hoard. If I buy a new item, an old one like it has to go. (Okay, I’m a girl, so that especially applies to bags – I love computer and work bags.)

Reducing the guilt
Remind yourself that it’s okay to prioritize what’s important to you. If that means you have to cut some things out, give yourself permission to do it. Don’t feel guilty. Realize it’s essential to your sanity.

Take it in small bites. It’s always best to break things into steps. You can complete one step at a time and avoid feeling overwhelmed. If you feel you have too much to do, it’s easy to just not do any of it. And that’s why the clutter builds. It’s all too much.

And if you forget, or fall off of the wagon, that’s okay. Just pick up where you left off. A little progress is better than nothing.

What other types of clutter do you have trouble with?

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