A cluttered desk, a cluttered room, a cluttered house, a cluttered life can all add stress to your life. Things get lost. Some people can live that way and it never bothers them. Most can not. You’ve probably flipped through the channels and seen “Hoarders” and been mesmerized by the piles and piles of stuff an individual can accumulate without really being aware of it. For those individuals, it’s a disease, an obsessive compulsive disorder. For most of us, we can let little things pile up, though, until it becomes an overwhelming distraction and we just don’t know where to start.
That’s the problem with my garage at the moment. I have a detached garage and it’s just too easy to shovel out the stuff from the car and put it on the closest thing at waist level before pulling out for a last-minute departure. The problem is when I return, I fail to recover the junk I left behind and instead just close the door…out of sight, out of mind. So now…remember the “Hoarder” scene? It’s not quite that bad, but…
What the garage does to me, though, is keep a small nagging voice in the back of my head that continually say, “Richard, you need to clean up the junk! You need to clean up the junk! You need to clean…” But Texas is hot. There are a million other things I’d rather do than clean up the clutter. I know my back will hurt when I’m finished because of age-old injuries. I’m embarrassed to hire someone to do it for me because it’s gotten so out of hand. But the voice keeps calling, “You need to clean out the junk! You need to…”
As a life coach I know what physical and mental clutter does to a person. So, it’s time to get after it. But I also know that if I try to tackle it all at once, I won’t make it. Physically because of previous injuries, I’ll end up not moving for several days if I tackle the task all at once. I know that about my physical capabilities. That must go into the planning risks. I also know about how long it will take me to get the job done based on the square footage of the space and the length of time it take per square foot from a short experiment earlier.
So I can free myself of the physical clutter and the mental clutter by getting the task into my calendar, making it an appointment like every other appointment I make and sticking to it. It is hot in Texas, but not so hot at six in the morning. I just need to handle the task as my morning exercise. It may not work all the same muscle groups, but that’s okay. An hour of cleaning up that mess will probably do as much or more with different muscle groups and takes care of two tasks at once. I don’t even have to worry about getting wet during workouts since I’ll be inside!
That takes care of the pile. Then it’s building the habit of removing the stuff when I get out of the car, not before I get into the car. 21 days! That’s what the psychiatric world says it takes to build a habit. So I’ll put a sticky on my door, on my steering wheel, on the console to remind me I’m building a habit. After 21 days of doing the right thing…voila! I’m on the path to a clutter free garage and no more voices in the back of my brain.
Your garage may not look like mine. Maybe it’s your Fibber Maggee’s closet (okay, some of you are too young to understand). Maybe it’s your desk or your sock drawer. Whatever the cluttered part of your life, you can fix it. A life coach can give you some tips and techniques and help hold you accountable.