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!
But there is a way out! First of all, remember that you are going to feel a clear sense of satisfaction when you live in a space that is working for you. Don't expect your flatmates or family to be as enthusiastic! If they are - that is an absolute bonus! But you are doing this for YOU. The more your friends and family see you doing things slightly differently, the more they see the benefits, the more you will come to see that they will eventually follow suit. A big part of this is making it perfectly obvious where the new homes for your things now are. If you decide to move the phone chargers to another location make sure everyone knows and that it is accessible to everyone who needs to use it. Don't get annoyed when they forget, for your own peace of mind, remind them of the new home for charging phones and, if you have to, put their phone on charge yourself. They will soon get into the habit of going to the right place, and you will have your lovely ' end of the sofa situation' going on!
But what if it is actually you who is struggling with the new system? First of all ask if it is right, is there anything else that needs to be changed to make it easier for you to make the system work? Would it actually be better to have the phone charging back next to you? If so then move it back! But is it just that you are just not actually giving yourself time to adjust to the changes? Remember: it takes 21 days to learn a new habit!
If you need some help in creating the new habits - a reminder to clear up coffee mugs before you go to bed, or to put your phone on charge so that it is ready for the next day for example, I have some checklists you can download on my website which will help you. There is one with some ideas already filled in and I have also provided a blank one that you can fill in with your own little reminders. Each of my checklists have a little timer in the corner reminding you that you should spend no more than 15 minutes doing your list. These tasks are quick and easy to do, Little Helpers to keep you on track for a simpler more peaceful home. You've already done the hard work, if your new organisation is going to be a success for you it should take only a little effort , small changes in habit to maintain it.
Head over to my printables page and download a checklist, use a prefilled one or write in your own little habit changes - remember nothing longer than 15 minutes!
Do you need more hands on help to find a way to create a clutter free, more organised home? I can help you in person (depending on current guidelines) or virtually. Contact me to see how we can work together to find the solution to your own situation.
Please contact me via my email firstname.lastname@example.org or using the chat bubble on my website, I would love to help you!
Take a look at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Linda-J-Harper-Professional-Declutterer-and-Organiser-107805011001601. Peruse at your leisure, and message me if you need me!!