Updated: Jun 28
When we succeed in clearing out and tidying an area of our home - whether it be one shelf, a cupboard or as much as a whole room, it can give us a sense of satisfaction and peace that is hard to beat!
But what next? How do we keep the shelf just as we like it? How do we stop the room going straight back to how it was before we made the effort it took to clean and tidy in the first place?
Well first of all it is important to understand that the shelf, cupboard and room won't stay perfect. If you share the space with other people I can almost guarantee that within a week you can stand back and look at your hard work and, unless you have been working on the space every day , things will have changed. Even if you live on your own, habits that have been formed over the years will not change straight away. Did the shelf need to be tidied because it was a convenient place to dump everything? Well it hasn't moved - you still need to put things down, unless you try to change your habits the shelf will once again become the catch all it was before.
I've been very careful to not say that we have decluttered and organised the areas here. Because, for me, tidying and cleaning are part of the maintenance of an area after it has been decluttered and organised. Tidying and cleaning are two of the habits that need to be employed to keep an area looking as you want it to look. If I have spent the last 5 years putting my post, coffee cups, phone and charger on the shelf next to my sofa and leaving them there until I need to find something, it will take more than a clean and tidy to make it into the gorgeous display shelf for my collection of cacti, that it was meant to be in the first place.
There are a few ways to tackle the situation. If the shelf is where you absolutely want your collection of cacti to live then you need to find a solution to where the other items are going to live from now on. Could you put a small table next to the sofa and use that for your coffee cup and phone? Should the post have somewhere else to live that is not so easy to ignore, where it will be dealt with? But we need to make sure that the problem isn't just being moved to another area. The coffee cups need to be moved and washed, not left to collect dust until we run out!
Another solution could be to move the display of cacti to another part of the room and set up the shelf as a place to collect and deal with your mail, a charging point for your phone and a coaster for your coffee. If this is where it is, realistically the best place to deal with your paperwork it seems counterproductive to move it somewhere else.
So now you've decided on your solution, how do you make sure that it has a fighting chance of succeeding where you have failed in the past? You need to create new habits. It is well documented that a new habit takes 21 days to form, and you have probably been set in your old habits for years!