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Clearing Clutter is not an inborn talent - it's a skill
by Patti Tokar Canton
Today I'll share with you probably the most important thing I've learned on my journey to clear the clutter from my home: It's a skill.
I've always admired the people in my life that always seem to have a clean, clear, beautiful, and well organized home. Before I got well on my way to clearing my own home, my thoughts were a little envious that they "had" some inherent trait or talent that I simply lacked.
As I've begun filling boxes of things to give away, donate, or throw away, I've also begun learning. And learning. If you've followed the clutter-clearing articles on the Simple Life site and on the blog, you will notice that I've been sharing what I'm learning.
It's funny that it took me until now to realize that staying organized and keeping my home the way I want it to be is really a skill. It's not some elusive talent that some have and some don't have. It's simply a set of habits that are practiced to the point that the skills develop.
The skills are what surprise me. I would have thought that being organized was the beginning and the end of the list of skills. It goes way beyond that. I'll share a few of them here and do my best to expand on them in later articles:
The skills (so far) that I've begun to develop and use with clutter clearing:
1. Making decisions - I found that sometimes I couldn't decide if I would later need or use something, so I kept it. And kept it. And kept it.
2. Taking responsibility - sometimes I kept things because I was afraid someone else would criticize me later for getting rid of it. When I began to picture myself calmly shrugging "oh, well" when I pictured the criticism, I began to accept the responsibility of choosing what to get rid of.
3. Not taking on someone else's responsibility - sometimes I found that I was saving things for someone else, or I did not ask others to clean up their own clutter. Letting go of being the "caretaker of everyone else's stuff" feels great, by the way.
4. Learning to know myself - once I got clearer on what I really wanted and what I really liked, it made it much easier to know what to bring into the house and what stuff to move out of the house.
5. Courage to change - it's really easy to just keep the status quo and just let things pile up and to even mentally hide from the clutter. It's much harder (at first) to muster up the courage to admit that I not only wanted to change the way my home looked, but that I was going to get started at it, even if I wasn't sure of what I was doing, how long it would take, and what it would look like in the end.
6. Willingness to make mistakes - this is a big one for me. A lot of things I kept because I was so afraid that some day I was going to need that exact item and would deeply regret having let go of that dusty, never-used widget. When I finally gave myself permission to allow that a mistake might happen now and then, I was able to let go of a lot more items.
7. Willingness to admit that I made a mistake in the past - closely related to #6 above is the skill of allowing that I made a mistake. If I keep something in the back of the closet or in a box on the shelf, then I never have to face the fact that it never really fit, or never really worked for what it was intended to do, or it is the wrong color, style, etc. etc. However, once I consider putting it in the donation box, then I have to face and admit that I make a mistake in buying something, that yes, I wasted money on this widget. That was really hard, and still often is, but I think that this skill alone is what has taught me to be much more choosey about what I buy and bring into my home. Without having first learned the skill of admitting mistakes, I would have just kept repeating them and repeating them.
8. Creating and reinforcing the habit of daily repetition - this skill may come the closest to what you traditionally think of with keeping a home clean and clear. I found that if I have a little routine that I follow, no matter what, then the whole process of keeping the house clean is much easier and more predictable. I probably got this first from The Flylady (flylady.com) who goes to extremes with routines for housecleaning. But I admit that picking my hotspots (like the kitchen sink and counter area, the chair in the bedroom, the laundry, etc.) and making sure that these things get done routinely and religiously, then I've conquered half the battle. It becomes as routine as brushing my teeth - yes, sometimes I'm in a big hurry and brush like a maniac and get done in 60 seconds, but I never skip brushing my teeth. Same with the kitchen sink - sometimes I stuff things in the dishwasher that I might normally wash by hand, and sometimes I take the dishrag and clean the counter in a just-get-the-spots frenzy, but keeping the sink and counter clear is something that I don't skip. (I like that now. It feels good. But it was hard to develop the habit.)
There's more, much more. But I think I've given you enough to consider. You'll have your own set of skills to learn as you start clearing away the clutter and then continue keeping it away. I'm still clearing and still learning. But I can say emphatically that I would never have learned any of these skills, or even have been aware that I lacked them, if I hadn't just gotten started, kept going, and kept observing and being willing to change.
Clearing clutter and keeping your home clear and beautiful: it's not a talent. It's a learned skill. Skills are learned by repetition, observation, correction, and reinforcement. Just get started. You may end up changing your life as well as changing the look of your home.
If you would like a free copy of The Top 500 Inspirational Quotes of All Time, then please visit The Fat Dollar site for this offer.
Two authors whose affirmations have deeply affected me are Catherine Ponder and Napoleon Hill. My favorite books from these authors are:
The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity - Your Master Key to Prosperity by Catherine Ponder
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill - the link is my affiliate link with Amazon. Although there are many reprinted versions of Think and Grow Rich, this is my strong recommendation. The book is paperback with an unusually durable binding and pliable cover and pages. It feels magnificent to hold and to fold back the pages for reading and highlighting.
I have heavily highlighted copies of both of these books and consider them books to reference and re-read on a continual basis.
Many of the affirmations above are directly or indirectly from these books.