Winter is mercifully coming to an end and Spring will be upon us before we know it. For real, even in New England. As a Feng Shui consultant, I often remind people that this time of the year is begging for your attention. It is called Spring Cleaning for a reason. You can’t have good Feng Shui if you can’t see any surfaces, you can’t get one more item in the closet, and you waste 4 hours looking for a really important tiny piece of paper. The time has come to cut through the clutter, make some hard choices and buy yourself back some precious time.
What does time have to do with this? After all, it’s going to take hours of work to cut through the crap. I refer you back to the 4 hours you wasted looking for that piece of paper. What if you could buy that back? How much would that be worth to you? There is a funny thing that happens when you start cleaning piles up—time stands still. You look up and 4 hours have lapsed, but you can park in the garage again. All of that energy that was tied up in the piles gets released and you can use that energy to spur you on to more pile sorting or use it to buy yourself more time.
Imagine your morning routine in which everything you need is right where you need it from the closet to the front door. How much time would that save? This is where good design (good is defined on what works for you and your lifestyle when you are being honest about who you really are) and good organization come into play. But you can’t have good design and good organization without knowing what items and things you need to design and organize for. So you have to tackle those piles before you can design your new life.
There are many ways to begin, so just pick one and stick with the plan. You may start sorting by arranging your thousands of piles into 4: Trash/recycle, donate, fix, and keep. If you are primarily a paper hoarder, make your piles trash/recycle, read, handle, and file. I read a story once about an executive that had not one piece of paper in his office. When asked about it he that said as the mail/paper comes in he either trashes it, handles/delegates it, files it or it goes into his pending system. Pending is three piles A, B and C. Once a week, C just gets trashed without looking at it, B goes to C and A becomes B. If he didn’t need it within the 3 weeks that it took A to become C, then he didn’t need it and also didn’t need to look at it again.
The key to the plan working in the long term is that it must be maintained. The mail comes almost every day. Stuff piles up. Life happens. If there is no system to address it as it comes, it piles up and looks like your life probably does right now. This is a commitment that you make to yourself. Why? Because you are buying time.
Which brings me to the Feng Shui warning: be careful what you ask for, because you are going to get it. What if you keep yourself cluttered, disorganized and crazy because you use busy as a protection device. It is easier to distract ourselves with clutter than to be honest and say no occasionally—to invites, projects, people and other commitments. If you bought yourself all the time in the world, you would have time for yeses that you just don’t want to do. Be better at No. It really is OK.
Another thing to keep in mind is that nature abhors a vacuum. You just spent an entire weekend cleaning out the basement and garage. Now there is this big, empty space waiting to be filled. The next day your cousin shows up and asks to store their belongings in the void (the universe is testing you to see if you really want more time or more stuff). Ask yourself—do I want more time? It doesn’t even have to be your cousin trying to fill your void; it could in fact be you. Every time you go shopping, ask yourself if you’d rather have the time or the thing. Make new habits and break old addictions to clutter. You will find yourself happier, more open and available. You will be free to fill your life up with people, places and things that you want occupying your space and time. Choose wisely and be alright with No.