Painful piles

It’s National Organising Week. Taking the time to work out what’s surplus can bring you clarity of mind as well as more tangible space, says professional declutterer Katherine Blackler.

messpixabayI’ll bet that nearly all of you reading this have suffered from piles at some point right? I’m not talking the variety best (indeed, hopefully) confined to the knicker department, but rather those pesky piles of paperwork, piles of clothes, piles of toys, piles of things to-do, the list goes on.

We can easily become overwhelmed with any and all of the mini mountains we create around us so it’s good to take stock every now and then.

This week is National Organising Week (NOW), giving you chance to pause and review…now. It’s an initiative run by the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) and as an APDO board member I can confirm that such a life-changing organisation really does exist.  

APDO is hoping to kickstart the UK into treating their piles by beating procrastination and tackling their clutter.

“The body and mind struggle to operate permanently in fight or flight mode and we’re very likely to be heading for a rather solid brick wall if we don’t build in some buffer time.”

Lots of our physical and mental clutter revolves around holding onto items and thoughts (and sometimes people) pertaining to the past. Equally, we can be busy projecting into the future and stockpiling stuff for scenarios that might arise but that we cannot control. All of this time travelling in our heads seriously distracts us from being in the present moment and living consciously in the now, the core principle of mindfulness.

So if NOW feels like a good time to take stock, consider decluttering the following areas in your life:

Your surplus items

This William Morris quote literally changed my life: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” It’s a great yardstick to measure both your clutter and treasures against.

Decide if your belongings serve a genuine purpose or make you feel great seeing, wearing or using them. If they do, keep them, absolutely no questions asked. If they don’t, perhaps it’s time to recognise they did their job or the poor things are never going to get true job satisfaction in your life and bid them farewell.

Rest assured that everyone around you doesn’t need to agree on something that you know adds value or that you cherish. Celebrate your uniqueness and surround yourself with things that are relevant to you. Do not overwhelm yourself with what you think society expects you to have or enjoy.

Your diary

This one is my Achilles’ heel and I’m including it as my own personal challenge for NOW. We’ve all succumbed to the breakneck speed of modern day living and our schedules are stuffed to the brim with work shifts, appointments, fitness, playdates, parties, dates, household admin, cleaning, DIY chores while being assaulted morning, noon and night from social media and technology. For many of us, being in a permanent state of busyness is a major part of our identity and we can think it somehow makes us appear more productive, successful or perhaps superior to others.

The difficulty is that the body and mind struggle to operate permanently in fight or flight mode and we’re very likely to be heading for a rather solid brick wall if we don’t build in some buffer time. Buffer time, not just for things we enjoy and find relaxing, but downtime where there is no expectation of what we’ll do with that gap. Time to simply ‘be’. Brendon Burchard wisely suggests, “Slow down. Be intentional. Notice the energy you are bringing into this space and moment.”

Your drains

I’m not suggesting you call in Dynarod or bulk-buy Mr Muscle Foam Unblocker – this is about the people you have in your life. Identify the people that uplift and support you. These are your radiators. They make you feel fuzzy and warm during and after spending time with them. Ditch the ones who don’t. They are drains who leave you feeling empty and cold.

Obviously don’t ceremoniously drop off any pals at the local tip when they’re having a bad day and need a good moan, but we’ve all had people who take, take, take, and leave us feeling exhausted EVERY time we meet or speak. There’s no need for a confrontation, but definitely park them on the farthest perimeter of your life so they don’t impact your joie-de-vivre. Tony Robbins makes a valid point, “You become who you spend time with”. Quid pro quo: surround yourself with people who inspire you and will help you be the best you can be.

Good luck with your stock-take.

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Written by Katherine Blackler

Katherine Blackler is a professional organiser and declutterer who walked away from the security blanket of her demanding city job and stopped waiting for Mr Right to appear before setting up her business SortMySpace Ltd.