10 Minute Tidy Up

If you studied science in high school, you may be familiar with the “Second Law of Thermodynamics”.  It states in a nutshell that “entropy increases.”  In layman’s terms it means that all systems move towards a state of disorder.  You don’t have to be a scientist to see how this plays out in life.  Just take a moment to look around and see how quickly personal and work spaces becomes cluttered.  It is amazing how quickly our spaces become disorganized, and equally demoralizing to consider the hours it will take to restore them.

claire-tompkinsIt need not come to this state.  To keep our spaces clean and orderly on an ongoing basis, a simple approach works best.  One method is the 10 minute tidy up, suggested by Claire Tompkins, aka the Clutter Coach, in her book 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized.  She describes the technique on page 11:

“Just as it is better to wipe up a spill right away, the ten-minute tidy up will keep your space organized with much less effort than spending half of a Saturday on it.  If you do this daily, ten minutes should be plenty.”

She suggests tidying up at transition times, such as before leaving the house or immediately after dinner.  If you are interested in trying it out, she suggests making a list of three spots to tidy today before bed.

Small actions can reverse the weight of entropy in your home.  Why not try a 10 minute tidy today!

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Digital Decluttering

How many files do you have cluttering up your computer’s desktop?  What about that app on your phone that was opened once two years ago and soon forgotten?  And just how many photos have you saved to the cloud?

It appears there is a tendency to ignore the clutter in our electronic spaces.  While a slew of books talk about the stress relief that comes from tidying up our physical belongings, should we also pay attention to our digital world too?  Some believe that with computer memory so cheap there is no downside to storing all our files and apps forever. What could possibly be wrong with this approach?

Writer Kelly Oakes argues in an article from earlier this year on the BBC’s web site that decluttering our digital world is just as important as cleaning up physical spaces.  Kelly writes:

“Emerging research on digital hoarding – a reluctance to get rid of the digital clutter we accumulate through our work and personal lives – suggests that it can make us feel just as stressed and overwhelmed as physical clutter. Not to mention the cybersecurity problems it can cause for individuals and businesses and the way it makes finding that one email you need sometimes seem impossible.”

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Learn more by reading the rest of the article on the BCC – Future web site.

Konmari for Kids

mariekondoBeing organized is a challenge for all ages.  As a father, I see how children tend to be caught up in the moment.  It is always fun to see their eager faces when they pull toys out to play.  However, once the toy has lost its enjoyment for that session it is often left where it was last touched.  Is there a way to encourage children to tidy up and see the fun in it?

In a recent blog post, Marie Kondo shares her top four tips for tidying up with kids, starting with tip one – Narrate as You Tidy:

“As you tidy, explain to your children what you’re doing so they can learn from you. Try to convey that tidying is part of maintaining a comfortable home. If they see their parents tidying regularly with a smile, children will think of tidying as a positive everyday activity.”

To learn the other three tips, please visit her blog on the KonMari web site.

 

Not What, but Where to Discard?

mariekondoDo you have something you want to throw away, but don’t want to simply put it in the trash? Our belongings are varied and the method of sending them along to a new destination can be as well.  Some things may be worthy of resale, others might be suitable to give away, or perhaps you are uncertain if it can be recycled?  A little block like this in the process of clearing a space can cause the discard project to stall.

Organizational expert Marie Kondo is well aware of this obstacle.  So, she recently placed a resource guide on her web site to help with the process of discarding.  For example, under clothing she identifies three different categories for discard: donate, resale, and recycle, along with actual organizations you can contact for each type.

One amazing fact shared in the guide is that the average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year for the entire country!

Check out the rest of the categories on her web site.

Organizing is a Journey

claire-tompkinsDavid Allen has often said there is a “strategic value” to “clear space.”  In a physical sense, this means ensuring that our work and home spaces are organized and clean.  However, for those starting out with the intention to get organized there is a trap to avoid.  It is very easy to see the whole process as one big heavy lift that needs to be accomplished in a short time.  With this daunting view of the project it is likely they will give up on organizing right from the start.

Claire Tompkins, aka the Clutter Coach, shares in her book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, that organizing is a journey.  It is not meant to be completed in one weekend, but instead is a transformative approach occurring over many weeks or months.  On page 50 of her book, she shares a simple way to frame the task.

“Try on this thought: organizing is a journey, not a destination.  The difference between people who are organized and those who aren’t is that they do a little every day to maintain order.”

She then suggests the following tip:

“Identify one small area that tends to get cluttered regularly and spend five minutes putting things away and throwing things out.”

Sounds like good advice.  Now excuse me while I clean out this drawer …

The Power of Completion

DA-SmallDo you know how many projects lie unfinished in your world?  As we move through life there is a natural force in us that creates new things as they spark our interest.  Unfortunately, I have found this creation often results in lots of projects that quickly lose focus and instead become a source of stress.  It seems that the catch to managing all the stuff we create is finding a way to bring closure to them.

In his latest blog post, David Allen delves into the entwined powers of completing and creating and how their dance affects our lives.

“Seems that we’re here on the planet to learn about and do two things—complete and create. We are responsible for what we have put into motion on all levels, and we must manage the process of what we are putting into motion every moment. 

“Though both aspects are primary, I think a lot of people could use a good bit more emphasis on the complete part. Our cultural personality seems bent on limitless expansion and not necessarily cleaning up after itself.”

Read the rest of the post at the Getting Things Done web site.

 

Stuff on Surfaces

On my Twitter feed two weeks ago I spied an amusing observation I believe came from user Anna M @helgagrace:

“In my experience, adulthood is mostly piling stuff up on surfaces and then eventually having to clean off those surfaces.”

messy-deskWhile this observation is also applicable to our childhood and teenage years, most of us have a tenancy to pile belongings throughout our living and work spaces.  This is because we have not taken the short time required to consider the value of that item, if we want to keep it, and the proper place it should reside.  For home and office, the contexts are different.  At work, the two GTD questions at the top of the workflow diagram, “What is it?” and “Is it actionable?”, can clear backlog.  At home, Konmari’s core question, “Does this spark joy?” can bring the value of personal items into focus.

So with 2019 still fresh and new, why not commit an hour this week to clear off a surface?  You may find that intentionally clearing a space can release fresh energy in your life which can be used to accomplish meaningful goals.  What do you have to lose?  At the very least you will have a clear surface to admire when you are done.

Have fun!