FREEDOM! Declutter the clutter & complete the incompletes.

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We had a large cupboard in our home that seemed to house so many things we weren’t exactly sure what was there.

Very often, we’d go looking for something and end up being fascinated by our finds….or picking up the clutter that had cascaded from the overburdened and disorganised shelves.

It was a source of frustration, yet we didn’t do anything about it because there always seemed to be more important things to do. Or maybe we were just daunted by the size of the task.

No more! We have completely changed the situation….and replaced frustration with a sense of aesthetic pleasure! To say nothing of being able to put our hands on what we want when we want it.

In fairness my wife took the lead, but as a result of our joint efforts we now have a nice looking and incredibly well organised piece of furniture that enhances the den where it is situated and makes our lives far less complicated.

Want a 2″ panel pin, or 4″ round headed screw? No problem. shelf 3, clearly marked.

What about the games? That will be the bottom shelf, close to the soon-to-be catalogued photo albums. Letters? all filed, or dated ones thrown away. Same with bank statements: why we ever collected them as far back as when we moved into our house beats both of us!

And it’s not only untidy cupboards that can cause unnecessary angst.

What about the trousers you no longer wear because you haven’t got round to sewing the button on? Or the files in your office cabinet that may take you a few hours to sort now but would save you countless more hours in the long run looking for that particular piece of information that ‘should be here somewhere’.

And then there’s the creaking door you’ve grown used to, the wardrobe full of clothing you no longer wear, the cheque book not reconciled or the magazine rack that’s overflowing?

To say nothing of the letter you meant to write thanking your friend for his help, the unopened ukulele in the corner you’ll learn how to play one day and the sick friend you meant to visit.

It’s amazing how we get so used to the clutter and the ‘incomplete’s’ of life isn’t it? Even though they can cause us so much grief, frustration, wasted time and money, and could even lose us friendships because ‘we kept meaning to keep in touch’.

And they can also become an unconscious burden hanging over us simply because we know deep down that life would be so much easier if only we got round to sorting out whatever is the current “I’ll get round to it one day’ project or projects.

Well, here’s an antidote if you need it, a certain pick-me-up if ever there was one. And I can assure you the thought of starting, even the actual work itself, will be far outweighed by the results.

It’s simplicity itself; certainly not rocket science.

In a nutshell: tidy up the loose ends in your life.

That’s it! Create a to do list of all your outstanding niggles. It doesn’t matter how big or small the job, write it down. Make your list as comprehensive as possible: the cloakroom needs tidying; you promised to go out for a drink with your cousin; the lightbulb in the bathroom needs replacing; the noise in the car needs checking out at the garage; your desk drawers need tidying etc.

Nothing is too big or too small – but don’t try to do everything at once, or give yourself a timescale to get everything done by that is completely unrealistic. That way you’ll soon become demoralised by the size of the job and simply give up.

Instead, prioritise your list both by the time the item will take to complete and the urgency of the task.

Then, just for the fun of it, complete one small job immediately. This will give you a sense of satisfaction and create a momentum.

Next, check your urgent items and set about doing them as soon as you reasonably can; notice any consequences of delay and use that as a guide to when it should be done and the impetus to do it.

With the smaller items, aim to complete one outstanding task a week at first. Pretty soon you’ll likely find yourself in the flow and be doing more.

And tick off the tasks as you complete them. (Though remember too, to stay on top of the jobs from now on. It saves hours and much irritation.)

You’ll be amazed how just getting started gives you the energy to keep going, especially if you don’t try too much too soon: it’s a marathon runner’s attitude not a sprinters that you need to adopt.

Don’t be surprised if the task seems too daunting; just focus on one item at a time.

Remember the old adage: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

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