If you’re living with clutter, showing up for your life the way you want to can be a challenge. It’s tough trying to turn over a new leaf or put your best foot forward when your spaces are still full of the piles the “old you” accidentally accumulated. You know you have so much to offer the world… but there’s so much stuff standing in your way… it’s daunting.
And, it’s doable. I promise, no matter how overwhelming it may feel, your clutter can be conquered. You can clear out the corners and live the life you were meant to. And I want to show you how, just like my team and I have been showing our clients how to live organized for over 10 years. We’ve witnessed some horrifically disorganized spaces. We’ve walked some beautiful people through the process of clearing out and letting go. We’ve been part of absolutely astonishing transformations, both in our clients’ spaces and within our clients themselves.
Regardless of how extreme your situation looks or feels right now, if you’re seeking that kind of transformation for yourself, you’re ready to live organized.
And, you’re in the right place.
Today we’re going to cover:
- Why clutter is a problem for so many of us
- The first step to take to solve it (that most people totally miss)
- A foolproof system for conquering any pile or disorganized mess (the same one my organizers and I have used for over 10 years with our clients)
Ready to go? Let’s get started right now.
What Is Clutter, Really?
I’ve said it a million times before, and I’ll say it a million times more, I’m sure: Clutter is the buildup of postponed decisions.
When something (literally anything) comes into your space or your life that requires action, and you do not take action, you’ve postponed that action. Now that thing, whatever it is, must stay in your space until you take the action that’s required.
Is there unopened mail on the counter? A jacket slung over the back of your chair? Holiday gifts still sitting on the dining room table? Stuff at the bottom of the stairs that hasn’t made it up yet?
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Lots of things require action. And sometimes (ahem, maybe often), we don’t take action. Before you start listing all the reasons you didn’t take action on those things, rest assured: I get it. I’m human, too. Sometimes I am tired or busy or distracted, and taking action feels harder. And, sometimes I just plain old don’t want to do what I know I should.
The Real Reason Clutter Is a Problem
When we don’t take action, and postponed decisions linger in our spaces, those things constantly nag at us. Every time we see them, they remind us of all the actions we haven’t done, the actions we still need to take.
This internal noise that our clutter causes sounds like, “Don’t forget to do that thing!” “You didn’t do it yet!” and “Why are you still waiting on this?” The more chaotic your physical spaces, the louder these voices often become, creating a cluttered headspace, too. Ultimately, this mental noise will steal away your focus.
I think we can all agree focus is in desperately short supply these days. So anything that helps encourage focus should be a priority. Like taking action, ideally as soon as you notice action is needed, to keep those voices from haunting your every waking moment.
Fortunately, taking action is something you can start doing more of right now. This will immediately reduce the number of postponed decisions in your spaces and in your head. Hooray!!
The bad news is if you’ve been postponing decisions for a while, you’re probably facing a bit of a backlog. To clear out that backlog of postponed decisions (while still retaining the things you actually love and want to keep, of course) requires more than just dealing with new, incoming stuff.
It means tackling those long-standing piles. The good news is there’s a clear, systematic way to get through it all.
The Clutter-Clearing Process
If you’re reading this, you’re probably ready to clear some clutter. You may even be tempted to dive right in and start getting rid of things. But before you do, pause for just a moment. The very first step in the organizing process is not to start making decisions on what should stay and what should go.
While there’s arguably value in taking action on any quick and easy decisions you may see in your spaces or piles (I’m talking about the stuff you immediately know can go – I call it “low-hanging fruit”), there’s a vitally important step that should always happen first: assessing your space.
Assessing, at its simplest, is figuring out what you want and comparing it with what’s going on right now so you know where you’re starting.
It is NOT about criticizing yourself, judging your lack of action, or beating yourself up for letting it get “this bad.”
When you assess your pile, clutter, or disorganized space, ask yourself these questions:
- What do you really want to see happen? What does success look like in this situation?
- What is actually going on in this space right now?
- What happened that led to this situation?
- What other categories or different types of stuff do I see in this space/pile?
- Are there any containers already in this space that might be helpful for organizing? (Remember, containers can be bins, baskets, cabinets, drawers, etc. Think outside the box – literally! The idea is to take inventory so you know what you already have for future use.)
By intentionally giving yourself time and space to look closely at what’s really happening and what needs to change before you dive in, you are setting yourself up for success, not overwhelm.
The Clutter-Clearing Process: Five Foolproof Steps to Live Organized
There’s no doubt assessing is a vitally important first step towards living organized. Of course, it’s not the only step; it just sets you up perfectly to move through the rest of the clutter-clearing process strategically and purposefully, with a clear end goal in mind.
The full organizing process we call the ASK ME™ organizing methodology contains five steps. ASK ME™ is an acronym that stands for:
A – Assess
S – Sort
K – Keep or let go
M – Make a home
E – Establish a system
In sum, these five actions form a proven, repeatable cycle that can be applied to any pile or disorganized space to clear clutter and achieve systemized success.
You now know all about assessing. You’re equipped with specific questions to help you get clear on your goals. You’re ready for the second step, sorting – but that’s a post for another day.
In additional posts, I’ll go deeper into the remaining steps of the ASK ME™ process. Until then, you already have more than enough to get started!
If you already feel daunted just looking at the ASK ME™ steps, remember, if it’s an option for you, investing in your spaces and your sanity by bringing in actual professional organizers is a sure-fire way to conquer your backlog faster (and our team would love to help you!).
If that’s not an option, you can still be well on your way to achieving your organizing goals in no time. Just keep coming back here to further explore the ASK ME™ method, take intentional action, and watch your spaces transform.
Questions about clutter, piles, assessing spaces, or the ASK ME™ method? Comment below!