Before I share the strategies I promised yesterday, I want to give you the examples of common “broken windows” that Gretchen Rubin proposes:
- Having a messy car
- Accumulating piles of laundry or trash
- Not being able to find important items like a passport or a phone charger
- Hanging on to stacks of newspapers, magazine, and catalogs
- Wearing pajamas or sweats all day
- Not shaving or showering
Charles Duhigg points out another “broken window” – not making your bed each day. He says that bed making is correlated with a sense of greater well-being and higher productivity.
What are YOUR “broken windows?”
Now for the strategies…
One of the most fundamental organizing principles is HOMES. Everything, whether in your home or office, needs a home, a place to live. Creating homes for everything has two key benefits: 1) it’s easier to find things and 2) it’s easier to put things away. One of the reasons that clutter piles up is that items don’t have a home. Just as in a society where homelessness for people is a problem, you have a problem in your space when items don’t have a home.
A second organizing principle is developing the HABIT of putting items in their home after they have been used. This principle was illustrated in the video on my website that I shared a few days ago. When something new arises and you realize it doesn’t have a home, then it’s important to create a home. Labels on shelves, bins, and folders are helpful when you want to find something and when you want to put something away, especially if the space is used by more than one person like a spouse or children.
A third organizing strategy is the 1 in: 1 out rule. This strategy helps to prevent the risk of running out of space when new items enter. Examples include, when you buy a new piece of clothing, then let got of a piece of clothing you rarely if ever wear. (I apply this strategy faithfully, especially when I go to the Acey’s Closet Sales that Dress for Success Oregon hosts twice a year.) Another 1 in: 1 out rule example I use is with books. I love books but I realized a few years ago I was running out of space on my shelves to add new ones. I now practice this strategy just as faithfully as I do with clothing purchases. (I have to admit that reading electronic books has made this process much easier.)
If you want to more aggressively reduce your clutter, then adjust the 1 in: 1 out rule to 1 in: 2 out or get even more vigorous with 1 in: 3 or more out. This strategy is a small step but it can make a huge difference in the build-up of clutter. It also makes you more conscious of your habit of consumption.
I close today’s blog with a quote from Michael Singer. It’s about letting go – a key to many aspects of one’s life, especially where clutter is concerned. Singer says, “There are no decisions, there is only interaction with what is in front of you. Decisions come because you have attachments, desires and fears. The only thing that will help you is to let go. If you let go of your stuff, there are no decisions – there is just life.”