Whether your goal is to get organized, lose weight, get a new job, go back to school, buy a house, bake a cake or something else, there comes a time when you have to take the first step. In productivity circles, we call this “initiating,” and it can be surprisingly difficult to do. There are a plethora of reasons why we avoid starting a project, including:
- We lack the necessary knowledge
- Our schedules are already full with daily activities
- We anticipate that the process will be boring or unpleasant
- We don’t have room in our budget for needed supplies
- We are coping with more pressing emergencies
- We disagree with others about how to proceed
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that nothing gets done until we begin. Of course, plentiful advice is available on how to overcome procrastination, but sometimes reading these leaves us feeling more guilty than motivated.
Often, the best way to get started is to break the looming project down into tiny chunks, and then schedule the first step into your calendar like an appointment. If you go through this process and find that the first task still feels intimidating (and/or you are still avoiding it), my advice is to break it down even more. Keep going until you have a task that feels approachable enough to actually try.
While this is my “go to” advice, today I thought I would share a couple of stories about a less traditional path to beginning, particularly in regards to organizing. In these instances, getting organized wasn’t the initial goal, but evolved out of action taken on an unrelated venture. These vignettes remind me of a book I used to read to my children entitled, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, which chronicles how one small gesture rolled into a series of amusing repercussions. This little book reminds us how doing one small thing can lead to a variety of unintended consequences. In the book, these results are funny and messy, but as you will see in these examples, the results can lead to a less cluttered and orderly space.
Story #1: The Bathroom Faucet
In this situation, the homeowner decided to replace her bathroom faucet…
–> So she went shopping and bought a new faucet,
–> which led to the need to install the faucet,
–> which led to the need to empty the cabinet beneath the sink,
–> which led to her being surprised by all that had accumulated under her sink,
–> which motivated her to declutter unwanted bathroom items that had ended up in this spot,
–> which made her curious about what might have been building up in her medicine cabinet,
–> which motivated her to empty the medicine cabinet and declutter its contents,
–> which made her wonder what was inside her bathroom drawers,
–> which led to dumping out the drawers and decluttering them as well.
She never set out to clear out and organize the bathroom, but was delighted with both her new faucet, AND her organized bathroom.
Story #2: The Landing Light Fixture
In this situation, the homeowner had a broken lamp in the area over the landing at the top of her basement stairway…
–> So she bought a new lighting fixture,
–> which she brought home and installed over the landing,
–> which allowed her to clearly see the space,
–> which made her want to use it more efficiently,
–> which led her to sort and declutter the items that were piled up,
–> which made it easy to see what storage options would be needed,
–> which led her to acquire, install and use new organizing systems.
She didn’t initially intend to organize the basement landing, but was thrilled to have not only an attractive, functioning light, but also a vastly improved storage area.
Story #3: The Wall-to-Wall Carpet
In this situation, the homeowner had been longing to replace her living room carpet. She had been wanting hardwood floors, but wasn’t sure what was under the carpet, and had been putting off taking action. Finally, one night…
–> So she decided to just start ripping up the carpet,
–> which allowed her to see that there were, indeed, wood floors underneath,
–> which motivated her to rip up and remove the whole carpet,
–> which necessitated that she move all the furniture out of the room,
–> which was difficult because many pieces were filled with belongings,
–> which led her to empty them out so she could move them,
–> which led her to see all the things she had been stashing inside,
–> which made her laugh, and led her to get rid of a lot of old things, including two pieces of furniture she no longer needed.
She didn’t plan on decluttering her living room, but when the project was finished, she was so happy to have not only her longed-for hardwood floors, but also a more open and airy space.
Admittedly, not every project will result in improved organization. However, it is common for a small home improvement to require that we empty, clear off, clean out, relocate, and otherwise interact with accumulated possessions. Thus, we end up having a perfect opportunity to review, sort, and otherwise arrange a set of belongings. If you have been wanting to get organized, but can’t seem to get started, ask yourself, “Is there anything in my home that needs fixing?” Start here, and perhaps you’ll end up getting organized as well!
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Has a home repair or upgrade ever rolled into a decluttering project?