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I was surprised to see many people get surprised with the fact that I do not feel the frustrations of finding the things I need, just in time. Or even feel that the space I have is less than what I actually need. After seeing a lot of people struggle with the lack of space and frustrations regarding it, I deliberately extended my observations to understand why that happens! Because, honestly, I do not feel these things!
Our homes and offices are the two places where we spend most of our time. If we discount frequent travelers, many of us fall into the category where 85% or more of our time gets spent in these two places. A terrible frustrating impact is inevitable, if these places do not have what we really need. Or if they did, but don't have any order, it will surely be inconvenient for us to use them just in time and experience their benefits. In my opinion, the problem isn't in the lack of things we need, but, because of its excess. Neither it is in the lack of space but the overload on the available space! Our supplies of things are perpetually exceeding our demands. And then our available space losses its efficiency to contain the things we have. The supposed causes of frustration - lack of space or mismanagement or untidiness or the likes, seem futile when we look at it as an 'excess' of what we need. Why does that happen? If you bring in things without taking any stock of what you have, you are actually buying the frustration that comes with clutter and lack of space.
Identify what we need!
First of all, we won't really know what we need to buy until we take a stock and decide what to do with the things we already have. A major reason why there is clutter in our home or office is because of those pending decisions on existing things. A simple trick I use all the time is distribute the existing things into these 2 categories -
- Keep here
- Don't keep here
How do you decide to sort your things in these categories? Only one basic question - When was the last time I used this? (Anything which was used 3 months back or more goes in "Don't keep here") You will be surprised with the number of things falling in this category! The things you have used in the last 3 months are the things you truly need and there is ample of place for all of them! Put those things back into the available place as per your convenience! Smile when you see a lot of place left after arranging these needed items! Trust me, you will suddenly start seeing vacant spots you never imagined actually existed!
Sort the "Don't keep here" category!
Spoiler Alert - you need severe introspection for sorting "Don't keep here" category! Now is the real challenge, what do we do with this excess lot? Please catch yourself when you may get carried away in these emotional traps! If you do, try the alternatives mentioned against these emotional traps!
- It is expensive! (Give it to your relatives or friends who would be more than happy to use it/ Sell it)
- It has sentimental value! (Make pictures, frame them, display on a wall for memories and pass on the item/ Try and find a relevant use of that item/ Decide a limit of memory oriented items and pass on the rest)
- For the "just in case" times! (Just in case is valid for only for first aid items, everything else is a trap)
- I shall need it for an up coming project! (Is it a project I am realistically going to complete? Is there a structured plan where this item is really necessary?)
- It is such a rare thing! (Is it worth the time to clean/ the place it occupies?)
Once your emotional trap items are identified, ensure that they are out of your home or office within next 2 days. If you fail to do so, this entire sorting will be in vain!
"Rarely needed items" Rules!
If your things pass through these trap filters, then you might consider allotting them places meant for "Rarely needed items". Seasonal or occasional items are potent members of this club. To mention a few choices in this section - seasonal clothes, seasonal shoes, umbrellas, suitcases, monthly stationary, etc. Now to control this category please follow the rules mentioned below!
- Put in 4 basic store areas - Kitchen, Office, Wardrobe and Common Utility (If they do not fit in either of them, trust me, you don't need them! Please get rid of them!)
- No duplicate items (Use emotional trap questions and their alternatives!)
- When in doubt, just give it away! Retaining doubtful items will only increase your clutter and confusion!
It is important to recognize this is not a one time thing. Keeping your place free of clutter is by all means a good habit! If you don't want to spend so much time again on sorting and arranging, please respect the place and things you already have identified as needed. A few tips for developing this good habit!
- A super management tool tells us to "PEEP"! Place for everything and everything in its place!
- When you bring in a new thing, make place for it by letting go of an old thing. (For eg. when you buy new shoes, give away an old pair.)
- Don't forget to give a designated hour a week to check on your clutter!
For me, these activities happen to be stress-busters! But I can very well imagine how difficult it can be for some! I hope this helps you to find a lot of space you already have and make you feel happy!