What If I Just Don't Have Time to Declutter?

Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping, Into the Future…

If you’ve never spent New Years Eve listening to the Neville Brothers sing this, you are missing out. But in other news, time is getting away from us. At least it’s getting away from me.

This article in Business Insider advances several explanations about why we think we have less time than we used to. Surprise! It’s not all about our devices. But there are lots of demands on us at all hours and it can feel as though there aren’t many free moments.

How does this relate to your home and your stuff? We all think we’ve gotten too busy to manage it. For me that presents as a (seeming) inability to finish or even start projects. Even simple ones! I’ve convinced myself that I don’t have enough time. And let me tell you, that is just not true.

I am the queen of distraction. Here is a small list of things I have been known to do while bemoaning that I don’t have enough time to manage my home:

  • Playing solitaire.

  • Researching the Baldwin brothers on IMDB and Wikipedia.

  • Spending 20 minutes looking for a new show on Netflix.

  • Rereading my own blog posts.

  • Looking up my high school nemesis on all social media channels, not finding her, and wondering if she is too rich/successful/cool to bother with social media.

  • Etcetera.

So, yeah, that Not Enough Time argument is only so much complaining. The fact is that cleaning, tidying, making decisions about our stuff - these don’t top the list of favorite ways to pass the time. But we are grownups and we need to buck up and do the stuff we don’t love.

Here is my best advice: If you are wrung out from a day of work, kids, responsibilities and annoyances and you just can’t face the filing cabinet, give yourself a break. By which I mean do something easy. Sort through your socks. Or the coffee mugs. Try out all of your pens to see which ones have dried up. Maybe reorganize the stuff on the refrigerator door.

Incrementalism works! Most of us don’t have the luxury of two weeks off and a team of helpers to get the house decluttered, reorganized, cleaned and polished. The key is to do SOMETHING every day. And if you miss a day, don’t berate yourself, just get back to it the next day.

One of the great effects of owning less stuff is that it gives us more time. Imagine life Thoreau-style, with one cup, one plate, one chair. There’s a reason he went super minimal out there on Walden Pond - he wanted the time and space to really experience his environment. While most of us have no desire to go to those extremes, it is true that with less stuff comes a lot less responsibility. Which means more free time.

We make time for the stuff that is important to us. Or maybe we don’t, and we should. That’s a whole other blog post… I am all for leisure, and I’m also a big fan of creating MORE leisure time. If I can just delay the gratification of doing something mindless for 20 minutes I can usually get some aspect of my mess wrangled. It feels really good, and it aligns with my values. So please know that I am right there with you, dragging my heels but deciding to do it anyway.

In short: try to do a little bit every day. This is going to take time, and energy, but small steps get you to your goal. And small steps can really motivate you to take bigger steps. Here’s something that might help: my #clutteralert archive has many small projects that will take only 15-20 minutes and will help you move forward. If you aren’t getting these texts sent to you weekly, sign up now! Text the word “throwaway” to 31996. Or just use this link.

These projects help you move through the house step by step, making it a little less cluttered week by week. If you need a little more help, please call me! 503-358-1689. Or fill out a contact form and I’ll call you. We’ll talk about what your specific barriers are and see how we might work together to overcome them.

There are a lot of distractions in this modern world. Clutter shouldn’t be one of them!