Since I’ve become a professional organiser, it has become clearer to me that a holistic approach is necessary to create order and, more importantly, to keep it that way.
Oftentimes you hear people talking about decluttering, but what comes afterwards? Or you buy some fancy organising and storage products and are disappointed because the mess is not going away. That’s because one doesn’t work without the other, or at least only for a very short time.
The third issue is maintenance, which is often overlooked completely. You can declutter as long as you want. If you don’t build new routines and/or habits, the mess is going to be back pretty soon. Same with storage: The best organising products don’t make you tidier or more organised as long as you don’t declutter beforehand and change your habits at the same time.
In my view, we need to fuse all three factors in order to be successful. Let me explain each of the three circles and my holistic approach in more detail:
What is decluttering anyway? If you Google a definition, sentences along these lines will come up: ‘Remove unnecessary items from (an untidy or overcrowded place)’ or ‘To simplify or get rid of mess, disorder, complications, etc.’
I think we can all agree that it’s about letting go. Usually, the first things that come to mind are, of course, physical possessions. However, I think it is much more than this. How often do I hear (after a decluttering session): ‘Wow, now I can think a lot clearer!’? Some people even lose weight after decluttering their physical spaces!
Digital clutter is becoming a serious issue in this day and age as well. So are constant interruptions and impressions that we need to deal with. Our brains are overloaded (or at least feel like they are), and we struggle, too, with the FOMO (fear of missing out) syndrome.
I see decluttering as a shift in one’s attitude towards things, thoughts, and even people. Knowing where you want to go in life, knowing your purpose and priorities, is important when decluttering. It makes it a lot easier to make decisions. Does this item enhance my vision or not? Maybe it’s even a hindrance! So, focussing on the positive side and on the outcome, letting go becomes easier.
Also see my post about ‘To Purge or not to Purge …’ that gives you guidance if you struggle to decide what to let go or don’t know how to do so.
In this context, organising means arranging things systematically, putting them in order, arranging them in an orderly way.
So, let’s analyse this a bit closer. It’s about systems and order. For me, it answers the question about where and how things are stored. Again, this is not only for physical things but also for digital ones. We need to create a storage system that suits us. And because we are all different, there is, of course, no one-fits-all solution.
In short, it’s nothing other than about, everything needs a home! If things don’t have a storage place, they will be put in random places. An example that is quite common: People don’t have a place to put their keys (or don’t use it) and constantly waste time looking for them.
As mentioned above, a system can’t stand alone; it always includes habits and routines. Let me give you an example: I really like my SpaceCube. Let’s say you use it as a command centre. If you don’t change your habit to drop your paper mail on the kitchen bench top instead of using the SpaceCube as an inbox, it won’t help you at all. The letters will still pile up on the bench top.
That brings us to the third circle: Maintenance.
Maintenance means preserving a condition or situation. So, after we have decluttered and found a home for everything, we want it to stay like that. This is only possible if we invest some time and energy into maintaining the current state.
I like to compare it with dieting. After shedding 10 kilos, we can’t just go back to the old eating habits. If we do, we’ll carry the lost 10 kilos plus possibly more around again a few months later. We need to change habits to sustain our new self.
Of course, changing habits is often difficult. It takes discipline and some time until a new routine becomes a habit. However, we may not have to change everything at the same time. Pick one new habit and only work on the next one when you actually get used to the first.
As the three circles imply, I think the three topics are interlocked. They are not necessarily in sequence though. For example, before I start working with a client, I often ask them to start working on one new habit. It’s a myth that you can only start a new system or habit once you’ve decluttered and reorganised everything.
If, for example, paperwork is an issue for you, nothing stops you from creating an inbox and throwing all your mail in there instead of piling it up on the kitchen bench. This is a habit you can easily get into before you start decluttering the piles and piles of old paperwork.
As you can see in that example, organising and maintenance go hand in hand. Having a physical inbox and putting the mail in there is organising. It’s a system. However, the actual action of putting the mail into that box is going to become your habit, hence maintenance.
By the way, if you are wondering about the heart in the centre of it all … decisions are usually not made based on logical and rational reasoning. I encourage clients to listen to their heart (or guts), especially when they are decluttering. There is no right or wrong, it has to feel good for you.
This hopefully gives you a better idea of my holistic approach to organising. If you’d like to learn more about how I’m working with clients and what packages I offer, don’t hesitate to call me on 0413 216 589 or email to Chantal@simplyinorder.com.au.