How to Avoid Distractions and Live Out Your God-Given Purpose

How to Avoid Distractions and Live Out Your God-Given Purpose

How to Avoid Distractions and Live Out Your God-Given Purpose

When it comes down to it, clutter is a distraction.

As I walk around my house, trying to get ready to host a group of five of my favorite women for three days, I can feel annoyance with myself starting to rise.

Here are some thoughts that come to mind:

“Why do I have all these half-done projects lying around?”

“Why didn’t I finish unloading the dishwasher? Now I have to unload it before I load it.” (Because the dryer buzzer had gone off.)

“Why did I leave the pile of bills on the table instead of paying them?” (I wasn’t sure where the money was going to come from for an unexpected auto repair.)

“I wish I could finish half of what I start. Why is my normally mostly-put-together home suddenly way more out of control than normal?”

And then I think about my past week:

  • One of our grown children is in a career crisis.
  • Our contractor is two months behind on completing our renovation.
  • I’m stuck on a part of the book I’m writing and can’t seem to focus.
  • My husband is going through some significant health issues.

Clutter was only a symptom of a distracted mind.

When my heart is heavy, sad, or frustrated, my go-to move is to either let distractions take over my life, or to create distraction so I don’t have to pay attention to painful things.

In their new book, Shiny Things, Amanda Bacon and Anne-Renee Gumley talk about the areas of distraction—not when it comes to our homes, but to our families.

Moms have particular challenges regarding distractions when raising their children. When my kids were small, I remember being pulled in so many different directions. I didn’t always know what my priorities should be.

So as a mom, how do you focus on the important things?

Stop being a slave to your schedule.

Just because someone asks you do to something, doesn’t mean it has earned the right to be on your calendar. Learn to value your time like never before. When I was single, my only obligation was to myself. But when I became a mom, for some reason, I thought I should be able to do everything I had done before and still be able to raise tiny humans.

Understand your limitations.

I know when I’m over-tired, I self-distract with food and stupid TV. There is nothing wrong with watching the “Holiday Armadillo” episode of Friends (again), but when I know I’m using it as distraction because I’ve stayed up too late (again), it’s time to realize I can’t run with the same energy that I could if I didn’t have kids.

Find meaning in what matters.

When I’m neck deep in distraction, oftentimes it’s because I’m looking for “hits”—something that gets me approval from outside sources. When that happens, I realize I’m at a stage in marriage or parenting that’s hard, where the rewards are few. I feel not only unappreciated, but downright unlovable.

In those situations, it’s important to remind myself:

  • This is a season.
  • I’m doing hard work that does not have immediate rewards.
  • God sees my efforts, even when no one else does.

We’re all prone to chase shiny things, whatever that looks like in each stage of life.

Recognizing the reasons we are drawn to distractions helps us to focus on the purpose God created us for, especially as parents. Then we can give the best of ourselves to what matters most — loving God and our families.

Giveaway!

The generous people over at Harvest House want to give our readers Amanda Bacon and Anne-Renee Gumley’s book, Shiny Things. Five people will win a copy and 1 grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy ofShiny Things
  • Rustic Felt Letter Board 10×10
  • A Notebook Journal
  • 18 Colored Felt Pens

 Enter to win by commenting below. Are distractions keeping you from your highest priority? What shiny things are distracting you right now?

 

What Are the Hidden Reasons for Clutter?

What Are the Hidden Reasons for Clutter?

For some people, a three-step plan for a decluttering system results in a neat and cozy home within a few months. For others, decluttering is an arduous journey. It’s not because of busyness or not having a system in place. Behind stacks of clutter, hidden spiritual and emotional issues lurk. If we’re honest, we admit that sometimes it’s just easier to keep those issues hidden in the piles of clutter.

Here are some hidden reasons for clutter:

  • Low self-worth
  • Pleasing other people
  • Clinging to the past/reliving our mistakes
  • Poverty mindset—fearing the lack
  • Depression/anxiety clutter cycle—If we’re constantly in the emotional part of our brain, we can’t use the logic part (where we make decisions).

Some of these reasons are chronic, while others are situational. In 2014, my eyes were opened to a long-time clutter problem in my own house.

A few months after my dad passed away, my siblings and I traveled from three different states to his house. It took us four days to clean it out, working from early morning until late evening, when we were too tired to move.

I lost track of how many giant, industrial garbage dumpsters we filled. Time and again, a driver would load it onto his truck, empty it at the dump, and bring it back again.

Anything you could think of, we threw away. (We gave a lot away too. A charity came and took what was useable to help needy families.) Stacks of old magazines, mattresses, bank papers from before I was born, and an entire drawer full of keys to who-knows-what. Sixty-seven years’ worth of stuff, and I don’t think Dad ever tossed anything besides old food.

For me, it was like looking into my future.

When I arrived home, I saw everything I had piled around my house. Even some stuff I didn’t want but kept anyway, for fear of offending the relative who gave it to me. If I didn’t do something now, I realized, my kids were going to be saddled with loads of useless stuff to deal with upon my death.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever learned a practical system for being clutter free. One of the books in my many stacks was Kathi’s The Get Yourself Organized Project. I’d read it and even written a review for a newspaper article.

So how did I get from cluttery mess to (mostly) decluttered and organized home business owner?

 

Here I share five crucial elements on my clutter-free journey.

 

1)      Awareness.

Here’s the main difference between then and now: Today I really can’t stand clutter and work the systems from Clutter Free daily to keep it out of my house. Before, I didn’t notice it or care that my house was cluttered. I lost time, money and sanity because of my clutter, but I tolerated it because it just seemed normal to me. I didn’t consider there might be a better way to live. This is the simplest—and also hardest—of the steps.

2)      A new safe space.

Since clutter is often accompanied by feelings of low self-worth, we must redefine what feels safe to us. It’s a big mind shift to feel worthy of the time it takes to improve our living spaces. Making change is hard; it’s easier to just stick with what we know. Gradually, I accepted that my new way of living was the actual safe space, and not the unhealthy condition of an overly cluttered house. Instead of making ourselves feel better by buying more things, we can enjoy the calm, peaceful feeling of an uncluttered home.

3)      Treat yourself like the treasure you are.

Once I became aware of my clutter problem, I worked to keep my thoughts about it positive. I changed “I’m such a slob!” to “I’m working through Kathi’s steps to get clutter free; I didn’t get here overnight, and I won’t be rid of it all overnight, either.” If we’re constantly berating ourselves, we’ll stay stuck in our low self-worth mindset. Kathi’s mantra of decluttering being a lifestyle and not a “one and done” became my mainstay. The more kind and gentle you can be with yourself, the more progress you’ll make.

4)      Deal with specific issues you’re hiding.

Among my stacks of books, I had one titled Not Marked that deals with childhood sexual abuse. I had purchased it with several other titles and dumped them into my other piles of books. At that point, I hadn’t told anyone I was suffering from PTSD flashbacks to childhood trauma. Not even my husband knew about the abuse or that I was trying to cope with overwhelming memories. Other places to hide our issues might be ridiculously messy pantries to hide eating too much junk food or crammed-full closets to hide a clothes shopping addiction. It starts with telling one friend you can trust (or a therapist) and getting to the source of whatever’s eating you.

5)      Celebrate your wins by enjoying that decluttered room again.

Once I got all the piles of books out of my living room, we bought some pretty pictures and couch pillows to make it cozy. Since it looks so nice, I’m really hesitant to leave anything that doesn’t belong out in the living room. One by one, as you conquer the specific areas of your home, decorate and personalize them so that they feel complete.

Whether your hidden reasons for clutter are chronic or situational, there is hope. Establishing a system for decluttering and recognizing the hidden reasons behind the clutter is the first step. Remember, give yourself grace for whatever you’re struggling with; even if it takes longer than you hoped, you’ll get to the place where you can live peacefully in your space again.

Enter to win!

Want a chance to win a copy of Lyneta’s memoir, Curtain Call? Comment below and two random winners will be mailed a copy by March 13th. (Winners outside the U.S. will receive a digital copy.)

Facebook Live: Handle Paper Like a Boss

Facebook Live: Handle Paper Like a Boss

Handle Paper Clutter Like a Boss: Create (and Use!) a Paper Organization File

Time and again in our Clutter Free Academy Facebook group, one subject keeps rearing it’s ugly head: “HOW do I handle all of the paper?!?” In July, we talked on Facebook Live about Kathi’s amazing, you’ll-really-use-it paper system to keep your paper clutter in check. Check out this Facebook Live to get the scoop on tackling this, our biggest clutter headache.

Eps. #313: How to Organize Like a Pro with Major Mom of Major Organizer

Eps. #313: How to Organize Like a Pro with Major Mom of Major Organizer

Have you ever started to declutter and just quit halfway through the job because you didn’t know what to do next?
If you have experienced these feelings in the past (or are right now!) you won’t want to miss today’s interview with Angela Cody-Rouget, better known as Major Mom of Major Organizer. She is the expert on the professional way to declutter someone’s home.

And Major Mom is going to give us the secrets to decluttering any space:

In this info-filled interview, you will learn how to:
• make the most of your decluttering time
• understand when you need to call in a professional
• stop feeling the guilt about all that stuff

I’m thrilled to have Major Mom on the show – so buckle up those kiddos, grab your phone and let’s dive in.

Insider Bonus
Want a free ebook for how to keep your car clean and organized even with kiddos crayons, nugget crumbs, and toy cars? Download your free Kid Friendly Car Organizing ebook from Major Mom here.

 


Thanks to Our Sponsor: Duck Pack and Track


 

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Meet Our Guest

Angela Cody-Rouget is the founder and owner of Major Organizers™, a residential organizing company. She has been building the Major Organizers brand (formerly Major Mom) since November of 2006 and currently has a team of 22 employees in Arizona and Colorado. She was featured on the military episode of Shark Tank on February 5, 2016. Angela spent 14 years dedicated to serving her country in the US Air Force as a satellite commander and missileer. She attained the rank of Major and her husband nicknamed her Major Mom after their first child was born. After her son was born in 2005, she resigned her commission to be a better wife and mother to her two children.

Angela earned a BA in Speech Communication at Indiana University and an MBA from University of Colorado. Angela is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and Faithful Organizers, and has served as the President of the Board of Directors for both organizations. She volunteers her time to her veteran community and church on a regular basis.

She is currently in the process of franchising her brand in order to create more jobs and opportunities for veterans and military spouses. She has one franchise location in Columbus, OH.  Like most women, she sometimes feels torn between kids and career and the balancing act is difficult, but she’s thankful for a husband who is supportive. She also has kids that cheer her on because they believe in her. Angela was born to create order out of chaos. She is on a mission to raise up an army of Liberators so she can restore order to the world, one household at a time!

 

Clutter Free Habits for Kids

Clutter Free Habits for Kids

Picture this. You’ve just spent the last few hours tidying up the house while the kids are at school and you finally sit down to have a drink of water. You take a sip, let out a huge sigh of relief, and marvel at the wondrous sight of your squeaky-clean kitchen. “Nice work!” you say to yourself. Now, you just need to figure out a way to keep it like this even after your kids get home. Here are 5 tips to help you instill clutter free habits in your kids.

1. Bags up and lunchboxes open. I started this clutter free habit at the beginning of the school year and it’s been one of the easiest and best ways to save myself from tripping over my kids’ school stuff. I told my school-aged children that if they put their shoes away, hung their backpacks up, and opened their lunchboxes and placed them on the counter every day after school without me asking, they would each get fifty cents. It has worked like a charm. My kids had saved up enough money from doing this one thing every day that they were able to cash in their coins for dollar bills when we took a trip to the beach over spring break. Not only were they excited about being able to buy what they wanted but the daily “kerplunk” of the coins in their piggy banks was an auditory reminder of their hard work.

2. Placemats or bust. We do A LOT of crafts in my house. I’m not afraid of glitter and we use it often. We also have washable markers but get this, we have permanent Sharpie markers, too! I know. I’m a daring mom. But, I don’t worry about my counters anymore because my kids know – no placemat – no craft. I learned with my first child, mistakes happen and it’s a heck of a lot easier to clean off a placemat (or throw it away) than it is to cry over something that won’t come out of granite. My kids have made placemats somewhat of their calling card by picking out a new one each year that suits their individual personality.

3. Craft kit corner. My mom ordered the most adorable craft bags for my kids. They put all of the stuff they’re currently using in these bags and tote them around from place to place when they want to. It’s a cinch to clean up. When they’re done with whatever they’re using, they put everything back in their totes and hang them on their hooks. Each tote has their name on it so they know whose is who.

4. Operation pantry. Once upon a time, my pantry was unorganized; not with food but with my kids’ arts and crafts. I’d had enough one day and so I organized everything into bins with labels. My husband hung a couple of wire shelves and with a pep talk and a few incentives, I showed my kids exactly how I expected the pantry to look from that point on. It’s not perfect but it’s a lot better than how it used to be. My son has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) so we have a lot of rice bins, bean bins, and sensory-type toys. Things like this can easily spill or become cumbersome because of the touch-and-feel type items they are. I knew I wanted to keep these things because they were helpful to my son but having them strewn about and finding beans in nooks in crannies in our house was stressing me out. I now have a system. My son knows that when he gets his sand bin out, he has to do it at a specific table on top of a placemat. He also knows he has to get the broom out and sweep (as best he can) up anything that has fallen on the floor. I’m not looking for perfection out of the cleanup process but rather, responsibility from him on what it means to be able to play with those types of things.

5. Stairway catch-all. The stairwell seems to be the catch-all for anything and everything that has been worn, played with, used, or doesn’t have a home. My kids know, that if there is something left out (not on the stairs) it gets donated or thrown away. Their responsibility is to put everything they find of theirs in a basket that I have put on one of the steps for them. This basket is big and flexible and one they can easily carry up to their rooms to help them put their things away. This basket serves so many purposes; it collects everything and my kids don’t have to make multiple trips up and down the stairs because they’re able to carry it all in one basket. They know to return the basket to the steps once it’s been emptied.

Creating clutter-free habits in our kids doesn’t have to be scary. Think of the things that you’re already doing every day and find a way to make them work for you and your family. Sometimes it just takes a minute or two of thinking, “How can I make this easier while allowing them to take responsibility?” I bet you’ll find that your kids actually like the way they feel when they claim ownership over their belongings. It’s a win-win for everyone.

 

Parenting journalist and author, Meagan Ruffing, encourages and equips other moms who may be feeling overwhelmed and lonely in the midst of parenting in her debut book, “I See You: Helping Moms Go from Overwhelmed to In Control.” Meagan talks about the challenges of living with a child who has behavioral disorders and talks candidly about her struggles with mom guilt. To read more about Meagan’s story and real-life parenting tips, visit her at www.meaganruffing.com.