“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
I walked into the beautiful home of a new friend for the very first time. She is a single mother of 3 young children, successful entrepreneur and multi-business owner. As I was ooo-ing and ahh-ing over the impeccable decor and the stunning architecture of her home, she repeatedly asked me to overlook the “mess.” After a couple mentions about the kids’ toys I stopped and quickly replied, “One of my superpowers is that I only see messes in my own house, not in others’!”
It’s so true. So many of us have unlimited mercy for other people’s “messes,” whether that be a cluttered home, a wayward child, a disconnected marriage or even difficulties getting pregnant, but when it comes to the messes in our own lives, we seem to have run out of compassion. Why are we so hard on ourselves? We can be rocking it in so many areas of life, but we beat ourselves up over the one or two areas that may be a little bit messy.
God’s Word is clear. The second greatest commandment that Jesus gives in Mark 12:31 is for us to love others as we love ourselves. Leave it to Jesus to be able to strategically maneuver two crucial commandments into one simple message. In order to love others well, we first have to be able to love ourselves well! No matter who you are, the number of degrees you may have, or the amount of talent you may possess, it isn’t realistic or possible for any of us to have success in every area of our lives all at the same time.
It sounds ridiculous even saying it right now, yet, we can become our own biggest critics when life isn’t going as planned.
Do what Jesus says. Love yourself and others well. Have mercy for your own mess.
One Small Win: Today, I want you to think of one area of your life that is messy. Now, take a look at it through the superpower of mercy, just as you would see it in someone else’s life. How do you see your mess now?
As a Couples Life & Fertility Support Coach and 3x Surrogate that has carried five children for three families dealing with infertility, Tiffany Jo Baker spends her time speaking, writing and helping women and couples birth their dreams and navigate the road and relationships well while trying to conceive. Married for 18 years to her polar opposite, yet best friend, together they have two teenage girls and have built a life and family based on faith, core values, humor and forgiveness. She loves to laugh, eat french fries, find amazing deals and create new memories.?? www.TiffanyJoBaker.com
One of the things that has changed my house and my mind about clutter more than any other thing is what I’m calling “microsorting.”
In my previous life (like five years ago), when I was waiting in a drive through at Starbucks, or waiting for my oatmeal in the microwave to finish heating, I would jump on my phone and check Facebook. Now, I microsort.
Microsorts are not our typical 15 minute Clutter Free sessions. These aren’t even five minutes. These are the seconds where I’m waiting for something to heat up, power up, and finish up.
As an example, when I’m waiting for my coffee to brew in the morning (I set it the night before, but I’m almost always up before my alarm) I straighten up the coffee area, or refill the ground coffee container, replace coffee flavoring container that is running low (I love sugar-free coconut).
What I love about microsorts is that these are little patches of time that come up all day long. In those tiny pockets of time, you can accomplish so much. The other thing I love? This helps you prepare for the next day, or the next time you are cooking, or the next time you’ll be in that area. Tomorrow, when I get my coffee, the ground coffee container will be full, I’ll have my flavorings, and the area will be clean and tidy and greet me well in the morning. It is my best way to be kind to my future self.
So here are 50 ways to microsort throughout your day:
Waiting in the Kitchen
Whether you’re waiting to take something out of the oven or for those last 30 seconds on the microwave, or maybe it’s waiting for your slowpoke kids to finally finish eating, there are tons of things to do with that extra 30 seconds:
- Unload part of the dishwasher
- Sort your silverware drawer
- Look at dates of food on a shelf in the fridge
- Look at dates of food on a shelf in the pantry
- Sort through your utensil drawer
- Take out the trash
- Take out the recycling
- Wipe off a counter
- Scrub out your sink
- Wipe down an appliance
- Put water in the coffee pot for tomorrow
- Refill a canister (with flour, sugar, etc.)
- Start a shopping list for the next time you go to the store
- Restock dog/cat food
Waiting in the Living Room
Maybe you’re watching real, live TV with (gasp) commercials. Here is what you can do in the living room while you wait:
- Fold blankets or quilts in that room
- Sort through remotes
- Fluff pillows on the couch
- Sort mail
- Get rid of 5 magazines
- Declutter a shelf on a book case – donate five books
- Sort DVDs – donate five that your family never watches
- Hang up any coats that have been discarded in this room
- Get rid of any cords that you don’t use anymore
Waiting for People
I seemed to spend much of my kids’ elementary school years standing by the front door yelling, “Come on!!! Let’s GOOOOOO…” Why not multitask with the yelling and get some things done?
- Clean off your entry table
- Clean off some apps on your phone you never use
- Sweep your front porch
- Restock dog bags (for cleanups during walks)
Waiting in Your Car
We seem to wait in our cars for all kinds of reasons:
For the kids to get out of practice
For the tank to get filled up
For Starbucks to finish your order
For Walmart to bring out your groceries (that you so cleverly ordered ahead…):
- Clean out trash in your front seat
- Create a bag for things that need to be taken into the house
- Go through receipts in your wallet and pitch what you don’t need
- Buy a six pack of water and keep it in your trunk for emergencies
- Sort through your glove box
- Throw away five things in your trunk
Waiting in Your Bathroom
Kids taking a bath. (Obviously, depending on the age of the little ones and their ability to sit upright) or waiting for the shower to warm up:
- Get rid of five empty bottles
- Sort through part of a drawer
- Check expired meds
- Inventory shampoos and conditioners
- Get rid of five products you don’t use anymore
Waiting in Your Bedroom
Waiting for your spouse to come to bed or waiting for him to get ready to go:
- Sort your bedside table
- Sort your underwear drawer – pitch anything you wouldn’t want to be seen at the doctor’s in
- Get rid of one pair of PJs that don’t make you feel awesome
- Pull 5 things from your closet that you don’t wear to donate to charity
Waiting in Your Laundry Area
I hate ironing, so I spend a lot of time waiting for the dryer to beep so that I can grab the shirts like a ninja so that I don’t have to set up the ironing board:
- Match two pairs of socks
- Wipe down the top of the washer and dryer
- Inventory what you need to replenish in that area
Waiting in Your Office
Waiting for a friend to type out a huge Facebook message, waiting for a video to download or even just an app:
- File or recycle five pieces of paper
- Test out five pens to see if they have ink – pitch the ones that don’t
- Return one email
- Update your to-do list
- Inventory office supplies
Those little bits of time can add up – make them add up to a clutter free home.
What are some of the ways that you use pockets of time?
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I started wading through the clutter in January. One week later I was disheartened. There was still a lot to do. I shared my dismay with my brave friend who had come over and worked alongside me for a bit, she said, “It will take a year.” She reminded me this was a process and that it would take more than a weekend to declutter. And here I am today, still working on organizing, decluttering, de-junking my house. I have made some progress and have discovered some surprising clutter.
The piles of toy parts, the box of notes from high school, and the bags of stained baby clothes, I expected. However, I was surprised to discover hidden pockets of clutter of a different variety. These were things I thought I would never misplace or lose track of. I unearthed encouraging words left unsaid, found compliments piled in the corners like stacks of magazines, and discovered a hoard of fun under the couch.
I found a box full of family time that still had the packing tape on it from our last move. Nothing really prepared me for the waves of regret that quickly eroded my pride in the progress I had made. The cost of clutter had not really hit me until that moment; clutter steals and hoards what we are capable of giving to others.
I had not realized that my disheveled closet was hoarding confidence or that the chaotic art room had my children’s creative tendencies squirreled away in half empty crayon boxes and dried up paint bottles. I started to think that maybe we just weren’t as creative, fun or as kind as we used to be, but it was just that the clutter had taken over and obscured these attributes from our hearts and minds. My creative, kind and fun-loving family was there all along.
It was just that we could only see the mess.
It didn’t take me long to realize I could not hold on to the the regret that came along with this discovery. I certainly could not afford to stockpile regret, so out it went and in came a new way of living and loving.
How to clear out the surprising clutter
As we clear the clutter, we discover that our hearts expand to give more generously to those we love most, and isn’t that what we all want? I don’t need the old train table the kids played with years ago or the 20 reusable grocery bags that have taken over my side entryway, I do need every bit of my capacity to encourage my children and to love my husband well.
My words of affirmation and kindness must be said, otherwise they are just as useless as the boxes of VHS tapes in the basement. The fun hoard, along with the dust bunnies and dog toys, needs to come out from under the couch, so that our home can be a place of joy.
Clearing the clutter allows our hearts to be tuned into what is most important — the people we do life with. As I continue to declutter my home I am now more excited about what I will gain. An expanded heart ready to jump into joy, fun and love versus what I will lose.
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.
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.