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Time to de-clutter… (part 2)

June 2, 2009

Following on from yesterday’s blog, today and tomorrow I’m going to talk about mental clutter. The easiest way to deal with this is – get organised! If you’re the type of person who worries about every little thing, then stop sweating the small stuff and make some room in your head for a) worrying about bigger stuff like world peace rather than how you’re going to pay the gas bill (and where the hell did you put the wretched thing anyway?) or b) enjoying all the good stuff now you’re free from all those petty niggles. A basic organisational structure – however dull that may sound – is a huge step towards simplifying your life. So now you’ve got rid of all your junk, let’s sort out what’s left.

Here, then, are some tips on dealing with mental clutter:

My first tip is storage – and lots of it. Acquire – or make,  if you’re feeling really creative – lots of different-sized boxes, bookshelves, chests of drawers, cupboards and make good use of them. Store similar items in the same place so you know where everything is when you need it and – more importantly – know where to put stuff back when you’ve used it, so you can find it next time. I have a lot of books, so I have different shelves for different categories, making it easy to locate any item for my research. (Plus, if  I’m having a ‘who’s the biggest smart-a**e’ contest with my partner, the answers which back up my smug assertions are always close to hand ;)) Get the nicest stuff you can find and make a feature of it, or get old tat and customise it yourself. When my daughter was little, I painted her bookshelves and her chair (which doubles as a handy clothes hanger) with sparkly pink paint and stuck big shiny pink and purple flowers on them. (Heaven if you’re six…)

The best piece of storage you’ll ever invest in is a filing cabinet or some similar efficient storage system for paperwork. I have a full-size four drawer cabinet as I have a lot of research work and previous projects stored away, but one of those one or two drawer mini cabinets will suffice for most people and will take up a lot less room. If you’re usually disorganised or lazy about dealing with paperwork – bills, receipts, bank statements etc – then a cabinet is a must, as it realy does makes life so much easier. My system works by having a drawer where all incoming mail (barring junk mail) goes. Then when the drawer gets full (once every few weeks), I simply spend half an hour sorting through it, dealing with anything that needs dealing with, and filing away the rest. This simple system means I keep track of all incoming paperwork, and can put my hand on anything whenever I need it. I also have most of my regular bills on direct debit – there’s been some controversy about this lately, with some corporations abusing this system (keep an eye on them), but I’ve found that it helps me keep on top of my payments and means I don’t get surprised by a thwacking great bill once a quarter.

Another useful item is one of those big cork noticeboards, where you can pin anything which needs urgent attention (and therefore should not be banished to the above-mentioned drawer for weeks on end). We have one in the kitchen and also use it to pin up little pictures we like, and cuttings and cards which make us laugh. It’s also useful for pinning up lists, be they shopping lists or ‘to do’ lists – jotting things down stops you worrying pointlessly about that important item you may have forgotten to buy or that vital chore you had to complete before the weekend. You could also invest in a calendar for your board, one of those with plenty of space for you to scrawl in – that way you won’t miss any of  those unmissable events either.

As well as creating ‘homes’ for all your paperwork, try something similar for all the other items which you use regularly. For instance, try having a basket somewhere to hand to place items like keys and get into the habit of always putting them here when you come in the door. This is also good general advice where your home is concerned – get into the habit of tidying up as you go along and putting things back in their homes.  Although now your house/sanctuary is looking and feeling so fabulous, and  is brimming with  fresh positive energy after your big spring clean/decorating project, you’ll no doubt want to keep it spick-and-span anyway 🙂

More tips on dealing with mental clutter tomorrow.

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2 comments

  1. […] 3, 2009 by The Empathic Guide In part two, I offered some hints on getting organised to reduce mental clutter. There’s nothing like the […]


  2. […] Part two talks about getting organised in order to reduce your mental clutter – why waste your brain power worrying about whether or not you paid that bill? […]



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