Do you feel mental overload? Do you wonder if you’ll ever get your home or office organized? Maybe you think if you just work overtime, or if your kids could stay at Grandma’s for a week, you could finally get it together.
What if I told you working harder or having a child-free home isn’t the solution?
I’ll venture to say 75% or more of our clutter problems aren’t because we don’t work hard enough, or that our homes are too small or our children are messy. Most of our problems start because we can’t think through what needs to be done. We can’t get our minds under control. We can’t make decisions. We are on mental overload.
Do you know that feeling?
How to deal with mental overload
For years, I lived with an ongoing sense that I should be doing something all the time. It ate at me. Even when I focused on something important, there was a latent unease about what else I should be doing. It was an underlying anxiety that hung around, even when there was no pressing deadline or responsibility.
It caused stress and lack of sleep.
It wasn’t until I read David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, that I discovered a reason for this tension. It seems our brains aren’t designed to store and manage all of the information, deadlines and demands that swirl around us at all times.
Allen writes, “The big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things when you can’t do anything about them. It has no sense of past or future. That means that as soon as you tell yourself that you need to do something, and store it in your RAM (your mind), there’s a part of you that thinks you should be doing that something all the time.”
It was a head-slapping moment when I read those words. That was it! Allen goes on to explain that the first step to finding a solution is to get everything out of your mind and store it somewhere safe. Not the “safe” place you stored an important document at home, and now can’t find. But somewhere close at hand.
The right to-do list
I realized my mind tried to manage more stuff than it could hold. One to-do list wasn’t the answer because it wasn’t keeping things in safe places.
With that in mind, I’m going to ask you to do something painful. Not as painful as stepping on a scale, but close. I want you to take a personal assessment of all your responsibilities, projects, priorities and tasks. Everything. Get it out of your mind and onto one document. This could be a paper notebook or digital file, it doesn’t matter. If you have multiple to-do lists, combine them into this one list. Leave this list where you can see it morning, noon and night for a few days.
On this list write down everything you need to get done. You might start with your home and add repairs, cleaning projects or laundry.
Put down things you need to do for your family, such as make a dentist appointment, write a letter to a teacher or take clothes to the dry cleaning.
Then move on to other areas of your life: church, community involvement, sports teams, etc. Include big projects and little things, like errands and emails that need to be sent. Nothing is too small to include.
You might want to dedicate one page for future projects, such as planning this summer’s vacation or researching colleges with your daughter. Another page might contain things you want to do years from now, but you don’t want to forget.
This process will take you days. If it helps, you can organize this list however you see fit if it helps you remember things. Or just write things down as they come to mind. Whatever works for you.
It’s okay if there is no order to it. Actually trying to organize it now might hinder you if you are a perfectionist. You might not leave yourself enough room in a certain category and then you’ll be frustrated.
For now, capture it all. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit panicky at how much you have to do. Just take a deep breath and ask for God’s peace.
I promise you feel a sense of relief soon because finally, maybe for the first time in your life, you have everything in one place.
There are many things you can do with this master list. You can organize it in to tasks (one action) and projects (more than one action). You can organize it by area of your life or deadlines. You can sort it by things that need to be done today, this week, next month, in six months, etc.
Hold on to that list. Add to it. Next month, I’ll share how to create a project management planner.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy Glynnis’ 15-Minute Morning Refuel.
Today, decide where you will create your master list and list five action items on it to help you deal with your mental overload.
Hello, my fellow FLINGERS!
I’m so excited to fling 1,000 things with you between now and July 14. Are you ready to suit up and show up over the next five weeks or are you still on the fence? If you haven’t committed to the Five-Week Fling, what’s holding you back? Fear of failure? Shame? Or are you too overwhelmed to know where to begin?
Well, let me tell you, friends. I have been there and back, and here’s what I have to say about all of that: Take my hand and let me lead you out of despair.
Ground rules for the five-week fling
I know. 1,000 things in five weeks sounds daunting, but we’re going to tackle it in bite-size chunks. More importantly, we’re going to do it together. But before we begin, let’s set some ground rules:
- Progress beats perfection. Whether you fling 10 things or 1,000 things, you’re one step closer to winning back your home – and your life – than you were before you began.
- No blame, no shame. We are all at different stages of our Clutter Free journey, and that’s OK. We’re going to jump in where we’re at with a focus on moving ourselves forward.
- Weekends off (if you want). The program is built around the idea of taking weekends for rest, but be flexible. You can use all or part of your weekends to catch up or, if you prefer, average out your flings so you’re tossing 30 a day every day instead of 40 a day five days a week.
- Pick your pain point. Every single one of us has a part of our home that makes us cringe. The place that allows Clutter to scold you. Start thinking of that place now so you confront it first when we begin.
- Join us on Facebook. The No. 1 perk of this program is the 24/7 support you receive from our private Facebook group designed for you by people just like you. This is where you see how Clutter Free changes lives, and where your life changes as well.
Now that you know the ground rules, you can jump into the Five-Week Fling with the confidence of knowing you’ll succeed. Make sure you subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out on program updates and other resources related to Clutter Free. Are you ready to fling 1,000 things? Join us today.
We’ve been flinging clutter left and right this year. Between our Clutter Free Bible Study during Lent and the Spring Fling we just wrapped up in May, I’ve noticed a few things.
First, you are all a bunch of rock stars. Fling 200 things in 10 days? Piece of cake. Our Facebook group is overflowing with the most astonishing before-and-after photos of your successes. I’m thrilled to see not just what you’ve done in your homes, but also the freedom you gained from flinging the stuff that no longer brings you joy.
Here’s what else I’ve noticed. Life doesn’t stop just because you’ve decided to gain control over this area of your life. Stuff keeps coming in the house – sometimes faster than you can release it – and it doesn’t always belong to you. If other people live in your home, their stuff can pose an even bigger challenge than your own.
How to eliminate 1,000 things in 5-weeks!
So here’s the deal. We are Clutter Free because we love a good challenge, and we work best when we’re under the gun. Starting June 12 and ending July 14, we’re hosting a Five-Week Fling to help you eliminate 1,000 things from your home. Gone for good.
Here’s how it works:
1. Over five weeks (weekends off to rest or catch up), we’re going to work together to eliminate 40 things a day from various parts of your home.
2. In our private Facebook group, you’ll share your victories and progress photos, and get accountability, encouragement and support every step of the way.
3. To participate, just make sure you are signed up to receive our blog, and then join our Facebook group.
So let’s see, only five weeks and 1,000 things out of your house? What a great way to launch your summer.
Won’t you join our Five-Week Fling? Your house will thank you.
Join the Spring Fling Now!
Many of us who struggle with clutter are reluctant to part with certain items because of the money we spent on them. The problem is, we won’t recoup even a fraction of what we paid for those items.
And that’s OK.
There is no better deterrent from bringing new items into your home than seeing that candle you bought for $24.95 re-sell for only $2.50. This is the Clutter Tax we all pay for excess stuff. If you’re ready to face the music and rid yourself of the surplus items in your home, a garage sale is a great de-cluttering option.
Hold a clutter-free garage sale
Here’s a no-fail, step-by-step strategy to make it work.
- Strategize. First, sit down with your family and talk about the possibility of a yard sale. Are they willing to participate? Do they have old clothes, toys, or books to donate to the sale? I’ve found it’s easier to get buy-in from the whole family if you have a common goal in mind. Perhaps you’re looking to save for a family vacation or a play set for the backyard. Get your kids excited about contributing to the family goal.
- Plan. Next, put a “Garage Sale” date on the calendar. Make sure it’s at least a month out. This gives you and your family time to go through closets, drawers, basements, and garages and come up with the items you’ll sell. (What a great goal in decluttering!)
- Organize. Start off with some empty boxes in an out-of-the-way place in your home (the garage, the laundry room.) Then as you come across items you no longer need, add them to the boxes.
Plan a day to work with your kids in their rooms. If they waffle about whether to sell an item, encourage them to put it in the garage sale box. If they want to retrieve it and play with it, great. If they never think about it again, then it’s probably safe to sell. I can’t guarantee there won’t be a change of heart on the day of the sale, but often the excitement of selling something makes letting it go much easier.
As you start to gather more and more items, sort them by type (kids’ clothes, kids’ shoes, toys, books, household gadgets, DVDs). Items will be easier to price and display if similar objects are grouped together.
I encourage you to start pricing items a few weeks before the sale. It’s easy to print price stickers on your computer’s printer. Younger kids will have a great time putting stickers on things.
If your kids part with some toys that have a lot of little parts, gather up everything in a resealable plastic bag to keep things together.
Start collecting paper bags for shoppers to use to take home their treasures.
- Advertise. There are several ways to get the word out for successful clutter-free garage sales.
On the web. The best way to know where to advertise is to google “garage sales” or “yard sales” (whichever is the common terminology in your area) and the name of your city. You’ll see where most people look for the information and then announce your sale there. But don’t spend a lot of money doing this. Most of your traffic will likely be of the drive-by variety. Be sure to highlight the kinds of things you’re selling (tools, kids’ clothes, furniture, etc.) so you attract the right buyers.
On the street. Signs most likely are your best means of getting people to your sale. While it’s tempting to let your kids create the signs, you should manage this project. Cute is not your objective—readability is.
My favorite kind of sign is made of neon poster board (think hot pink or neon green) cut in the shape of an arrow. Clearly label your cross streets. Kids can definitely be part of the sign-hanging process the night before. Make sure you bring copious amounts of clear packing tape, scissors, string, and even some balloons to attach to each sign.
Your friends. Tell your friends about your sale and even the goal you have in mind. Your kids will have a lot more fun if they know some of the people who stop by. Be sure to let your Facebook friends know as well.
Newspaper. Running a cheap ad in your local newspaper or an online classified service will bring you more shoppers.
- Merchandise. Before I was an author I worked as a sales rep in the gift industry, and now as a speaker, I have a book table wherever I go. One thing I’ve learned in both these roles is the power of merchandising—staging items for sale.
Clothes. You are going to sell a lot more clothes for much better prices if you have a garment rack to hang them on. Even a shower rod hung from your roof or garage door is a big help. The next best option is to fold clothes neatly on a table (this is a great option especially for kids’ clothes). Unless you have a stash of wire hangers you’re dying to get rid of, be sure to put up a sign that says “Hangers Not Included.”
Books, CDs, DVDs. Drag a bookshelf out of your house as a temporary display. If you have enough shelf space, place the front covers face out. To keep the shelves looking full, put one of your kids in charge of moving items from the bottom rows to the top as books begin to sell.
Put the wows up front. You want items up front that literally stop traffic. Furniture, tools, and electronics are your best bet for getting hubby to pull the car to the curb.
Group items. It’s helpful to have similarly priced items on one table. You can have a dollar table, a fifty-cent table, and so on.
- Capitalize. When the kids were little I would help them set up a lemonade stand to serve those thirsty shoppers in the summer heat (and for my kids to make a little extra cash). This was great for the kids when they were young. They could still be a part of the action, but they didn’t have to negotiate with hagglers. Who is going to dicker over a fifty-cent lemonade?
The only problem was that running a lemonade stand is as much work as the actual garage sale. Finally, I wised up. For our next garage sale, I went to Costco early in the week and bought sodas and bottled waters. All we had to do was ice the drinks and replenish the supply throughout the day, both of which my kids could do without my help.
The kids were thrilled to see their bank grow, and many of the adults were just as excited to get a cheap soda in the middle of a July day.
- Improvise. Garage sales aren’t rigid. You aren’t working for Sam Walton, so things don’t have to go a certain way. So if something isn’t working, improvise!
- Tired of sorting through piles of trinkets that are really worth nothing? Give them away for free with a purchase. Or set out a free box for people to sort through. Better them than you, right?
- Play music to encourage people to stay a while.
- Put out a plate of cookies or some lemonade.
- Have a plan for the end of the day. The objective is to get rid of everything–do not, under any circumstances, let it back into the house.
At the end of the day, figure out what you are going to do with the leftovers.
Last Call: In the last hour or two, let people know that you will be selling everything for a dollar. Your objective is not to make money, it’s to get rid of stuff. Bringing it back in defeats the purpose of having a clutter free garage sale.
Make Arrangements: At the end of the day, have a plan to make everything go away. Load up the van and take everything to the donation center. Don’t let it come back into the home!
Don’t be fooled. Having a garage sale is a lot of work. But if you are looking for a way to recoup some of your Clutter Tax, this is a great way to spend a day. Pad your bank account and clean out your house at the same time.
Now it’s your turn–tell us your best tips for clutter-free garage sales!
Sports. School. Clubs. Dance. And IT GOES ON! Our kids have a lot of activities and a lot of stuff comes with each of those activities. Times that by two, three, four or seven kids and it can become an overwhelming juggling act of “where’s my red soccer sock?!” every single day.
Kathi and co-host, Erin MacPherson to the rescue! Erin has three kids and shares her children’s hectic schedule in multiple sports and how stressful it is trying to keep everything together when running from one child’s event to another.
Listen in as Kathi shares tested ideas that help keep kid’s uniforms and equipment organized and clutter free so they are ready when your kids have an event and you don’t waste time hunting for that sock for the tenth time this month!
Interbusiness Clear PC Smart Storage Foldable Shoe Box, Office Storage Box (Purple)
Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, Standard Mouth w/Loop Cap
“The more you clean out your bag, the more organized you will feel each and every time.” ~Kathi Lipp
Is your bag a mess? Do you have a lot of nonsense in your bag?
Join Kathi and co-host, Erin MacPherson as they “celebrate” our self-made National Clean Out Your Handbag Day”! These women make cleaning out your bag super fun! They discuss how to clean out your bag and, just as importantly, keep it organized. Grab your handbag plus 2 grocery bags or garbage bags and clean it out while you listen.
Kathi loves using these bags to keep her bag organized. Click on the images below to purchase yours from Amazon (these are affiliate links).
Bags discussed during the podcast:
4 ZipClikGo Attachable Mesh Organizer Bags, No Fumbling, Guessing What’s Where!
Organizer Storage Packing Bags by GoToBag – Water Resistant Solid Reinforced PVC Mesh Plastic with Zipper Closure and Carabiner – Clear 3 Pack Pouch – for Travel, Work, School, Crafts, Purse, Cables
Kathi recommends doing the purse clean out once a week so let’s kick it off today, National Clean Out Your Handbag Day.
We will be giving away a set of bags to one listener.
Leave a comment within 7 days telling us you have dumped your bag and cleaned it out. If you take a picture and share it you get a bonus entry. One winner will be selected randomly.
Giveaway open to USA listeners only.