Bin there, done that

If you’re struggling with a problem, any problem, it pays to talk about it.  Talking enables you describe a problem far better than merely thinking about it.

So talk.  Even if you can only talk to yourself, or your cat or your goldfish, have the conversation that describes your problem.

Here’s an example.  I found an old music cassette I never liked, and felt bad about throwing it away.  I had bought it with my own money, it was mine, it has a non-recyclable plastic case.  Not many charity shops will take them, and I couldn’t think of anyone who would want it.  Someone had worked hard to produce it.  All this rubbish (and more) was going on in my mind, preventing me from getting rid of something I simply didn’t want!

So I talked the problem through, talked out loud all those bothers listed above, and ended up (rather angrily) chucking it in the bin.  There was a reason for this: Stuff you simply ‘don’t want’ is never going to become stuff you want.  But most of the potential solutions I talked to myself about to get rid of it required extra effort, and time I didn’t have. 

This silly tape was blocking me.  I needed a solution now.  The simplest ‘right now’ solution was the bin.

Think about this: if my problem is physically ‘in the bin’, I have flagged it ‘for removal’, without chucking it out completely which, for some reason, I can’t face right now.  But I have dealt with the initial problem, and conveyed it to the next stage. 

This ‘conveyor belt’ approach is important.  It keeps us moving and prevents our problems from blocking us.  If we agonise over ‘what if’ scenarios, we get stuck, and we don’t have time for that.  Put the problem on the ‘conveyor belt’ and wave goodbye as it goes away.

The bin won’t be emptied for a week or two, maybe longer.  This gives my brain time to process any worries I have in slow time, while my body can get on with making breakfast, cleaning the house, or whatever.  I can always rescue the cassette if I feel I really need to.

Scientific research has shown that people who talk to themselves have better mental health. Have a look at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-minute-therapist/201712/do-you-talk-yourself

So why not give it a go, and see how you solve your own problems.

Oh, and that cassette?  It’s still there, sitting in my bin – but it isn’t blocking me anymore – it helped me write this post!  So I can thank it for that.  It will soon be buried under other ‘binnable’ stuff, and I can probably throw it out (it’s halfway there already).  I can’t do much about the plastic or the tape, but I’ll probably recycle the paper insert.

The longer things sit in bins, the easier it is for us to let go of them.  Perhaps that’s the real purpose of bins – to act as a temporary repository, giving us time to process, and let things go.

Time for this to Go – ‘Leave by’ dates

Hello, Neil here
Many years ago I had a house with a little brick-built shed on the side of it. This was in the dark ages before people realised how cool sheds were, so I just called it the outhouse, on account of it being ‘outside’ of my ‘house’.

It was a useful little space too. I used it to keep my stuff in. My stuff included:

• A lawnmower
• A bicycle
• An unusually long wooden pole
• a whole lot of assorted junk

The weird thing is, looking back I cannot remember a single item that would have been included in that last bullet. So it must have been – well, junk, right? As in rubbish. Yet at the time, I could not bring myself to part with any of it. “I might need it for something,” I would say to myself, without ever managing to define what that ‘something’ was.

So my outhouse continued to be a largely useless space largely full of useless items, rather than a really cool shed, where I could be all creative and interesting. My own junk was stifling my creative juices, and that’s very bad. Ask any artist.

How did I break out of this mindset? Dates.

That’s right. Boring old target dates. I decided to look at all the things I had accumulated in the shed, and put dates on them, like ‘use by’ dates on food. If I hadn’t used it or found a use for it after, say, one year, it would have to go.

I recall a few items that I felt needed more time to ‘decide’, so these were given longer stays of execution, but there were also a couple of things that I felt could go in six months. Thus, you see, an approach like this often inspires fresh thinking, and that’s usually good.

Just setting this plan in place was helpful. Within a year, much of the ‘dated’ stuff had already departed, by fair means (or foul, but more of that later). It was as if I had prepared it all for the big heave-ho without the mental stress of physically ‘removing’ it from my life. I gave myself time to adjust to the new situation.

If there’s something in your life that has no defined purpose, why keep it?

It has no purpose;
It has no use;
It’s useless to me.

We all know what to do with useless stuff.

But Neil, I hear you ask. It’s all very well to talk about these things, but – did it really work? You got rid of stuff, but surely you had formed an ‘attachment’ to some of these items? There still has to be a date when, ultimately, you have to get rid of that stuff – and that’s hard.

Possibly, but when the day came I felt I was more prepared for it. I could look at those remaining items and say to myself “I haven’t used these things since … so why am I keeping them?” It made that final action so much easier to achieve because I had given myself enough time to justify it reasonably.

Well, almost all of it. You see, one night the outhouse was broken into. Nothing was damaged (I’d just forgotten to lock it) and some little opportunist sneaked in – and stole my unusually long wooden pole.

Evidently, even thieves couldn’t find a use for anything else I kept in the outhouse.

Which speaks volumes really, doesn’t it?

Testimonial

I would like to thank Christine Durrant for her help in cleaning and tidying my home. Thank you Christine for giving me the strength I needed to do this project and thank you for becoming a good friend as well. I would like to say that it’s people like you who help others to understand and get over their problems.
Thank you again,
Your friend,
Paul Hawkins

Fire Risks

Cluttered homes can increase the risk of fatalities when there is a fire. Cluttered doorways or corridors can impede the exit of the house holder but equally can impede the entrance of a fire fighter. Clutter makes it more difficult to find the occupants in a house filled with smoke. Accumulated clutter when it catches light burns hotter than a normal house fire which puts fire fighters at risk.

Can we afford not to deal with it?

Fire fighters in Exeter and Somerset are working together with Housing Agencies, Environmental Health, Professional Organisers and other interested parties in the South West to see how we can reduce risk in cluttered homes.

As a small start, may I suggest you get rid of any old VHS videos? Apparently they burn faster and hotter than paper and give off toxic fumes. Don’t let them clutter your rooms.

Need help looking at fire risks in your home? Contact your local fire fighters and ask for a home visit. It could save your life.

Need help sorting the clutter? Contact Christine on 07794978095

Are we more creative when surrounded by mess?

I am a professional organiser but I am not an inherently tidy person or in favour of minimalist living. People worry that I am going to come in and ‘make them’ get rid of all their stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. My role is to help you manage your belongings so that they enhance your life rather than stifle it.

Some people need to reduce the quantity of stuff in their home because they can no longer function in the space. Clutter has piled on top of clutter and they can’t find anything even though they know it is in there somewhere. This leads to them spending more money buying something they know that they own but they cannot find. Now there is yet more clutter to deal with in the daily struggle to function.

In these homes clutter is not creative, it is very stressful, so stressful in fact that people develop mental blinkers which enable them to cut out the clutter so that they are not overwhelmed by it.

As an organiser, I do not see it as my job to leave you with an immaculate desk or living area in which you can no longer find anything. Many people need visual clues to remind them of their ‘to do list’. My role is to help you sort out what is working as a system and what is not. Once we discover the things that do work then we can bring that knowledge to the areas that don’t work for you and revise them so that they work too.

My husband sent me a link to an article today ‘The Psychology behind Messy Rooms: Why The Most Creative People Flourish in Clutter‘ and I found it fascinating reading.
http://elitedaily.com/money/entrepreneurship/psychology-behind-messy-rooms-messy-room-may-necessarily-bad-thing/708046/

Certainly I have found many of my clients to be interesting and creative people. They are also extremely generous with their time, devoting much of it to outside the home activities helping others. The combination of these elements can have the effect of accumulating mess that brings a resulting chaos in its wake. That is why they call me in.

If any of this resonates with you, leave a comment.

For practical help and advice, call me!

Christine
01803 527072
07794978095

New Year, New habits…

Is your wardrobe overflowing with clothes that you don’t wear either because you don’t like them, or can’t find them?

Maybe now is the time to set in place some new habits, to make your mornings easier. Take a couple of hours and go through your wardrobe. Separate out the clothes that you wear from those you don’t wear. Those you wear can go back in the wardrobe. You will feel great being able to see what you have and knowing that it is all being worn.

Now go through the ones that you don’t wear. If they don’t fit, let them go or at least put them away. They should not be taking up space in your wardrobe.

What is left?

Maybe, clothes that you would wear – but they need ironing, dry cleaning, or mending. Set yourself a reasonable timescale to get these things sorted. If by the end of that time you haven’t dealt with the problem, you probably don’t like them enough to be worth keeping. Let them go.

Try not to hang on to things that are too small or are uncomfortable. The truth is that if you lose the weight you deserve something new, and if you don’t lose it, then those clothes just serve to make you feel bad about yourself. If the item is uncomfortable to wear, you will either regret wearing it – or not wear it! Let it go.

Lastly, do you find you can’t resist a bargain? If that is the case try to put some space between seeing the item and buying it. Go home and look at what you will wear it with, if it doesn’t go with anything then it isn’t a bargain as you need to buy yet more things just to be able to wear it.

If you are a charity shop junkie then tell yourself ‘If it is meant to be, it will still be here tomorrow’. Many of us buy more than we want or need and it only serves to make our lives more difficult as we can’t find the things we want in the jumble that is our wardrobe.

Good luck with making your mornings simpler.

If you would like a wardrobe overhaul with someone who will make you feel good about yourself and your clothes without chucking everything out then why not call me on 077949 78095 and book a 3 hour wardrobe overhaul?

Much more fun than the sales!

Do you store on the Floor? Part 2

A mountain of clothes litters the floor and from it you pull any items you can see that will

a) fit you and

b) look and smell relatively clean.

You can’t open the wardrobe door or chest of drawers because the floor mountain is in front of it?  It is possible that you have lots of space in the wardrobe but you don’t actually know because it is so long since you last were able to explore its interior.

Take courage in both hands and sort the mountain into separate piles on your bed: tops, trousers, jeans, jumpers, underwear etc.  Have the laundry basket close by for the things that don’t pass the visual and/or nasal tests.

The pile will now take a form that is easier to deal with.

Once the wardrobe/drawers are accessible check what is inside.  Chuck any that are too small too big or follow advice in part 1 of this blog.

Clean the cupboard spaces and line drawers and shelves with pretty paper.  Old Sunday supplements are perfect for this job as long as you don’t let them distract you from the task in hand.

Why do this? Because we don’t like cleaning and the next time you have to sort your cupboard you take out the lining paper and throw it away before putting fresh paper down.

Think carefully about your wardrobe.  Why did you stop using it?

Do you dislike hanging things up?

Maybe a hanging wardrobe is not for you.  Get a local handyman to fill the hanging space with shelves and put your clothes in neat piles on them.

Do you hate coat hangars that snag on each other?

Try buying some rounded plastic ones or wooden ones.  They are better for your clothes and snag less easily.

Do you find it difficult to find what you want?

Think about putting items you wear together next to each other rather than sorting your wardrobe into trousers, skirts, tops.  Now you have outfits together instead and you take three things out together.  Now if the coat hangars snag it won’t matter so much because they are all coming out together anyway.

If all this is too daunting you can get help.

Check out www.devonclutterbusters.com