Like Shaunta Grimes, I consider myself a right-brained person. Actually, science says that woman are global brained, with more connectors between the right and left side of the brain. That just means I have more neuron pathways for ideas, plans, and thoughts to jump rapidly back and forth between, and get tangled.
Which means I try to do too many things at once. Don’t we all? Science has also told us there is no such thing as multi-tasking. So I call what I do Alt-tasking, as in alternating. I start writing a Medium post, get stuck, and decide to do laundry. On good days I remember to put the washed clothes in the dryer, but not always. Because after I put clothes in the washer, I realize I need to clean the kitchen before my first client. A few hours later, I return to finish the Medium post. It’s too bad we don’t get paid for how long we keep a draft open. I’d be rich.
I see my clients in my home. The main areas living spaces have to stay de-cluttered. When I was a single Mom, this was accomplished by shoving everything into cabinets, cupboards, and under furniture. Important things were put in the bedrooms wherever they landed. Now that I’m older, I don’t have as much energy to run through the house frantically searching for keys, purse, glasses and jacket when it’s time to go places and be somebody.
I have gained some small measure of recognition as a woman with truth and experience to share. Showing up disheveled and stressed to teach a seminar on stress management is just too damned stressful.
So, a year ago, I spent three days going through everything in my home. I didn’t ask each thing if it brought me joy.
Instead, I asked each item, “Are you useful?”
Useful can mean many things. If I use somthing once a year or so, it’s still useful. If I never use it, or have only used it once in decades, it isn’t. If something is beautiful, and inspires or comforts me with its beauty, it’s useful. If something evokes a special memory, and I feel the joy of that memory when I look at it or hold it, it’s useful.
I donated or sold the things that weren’t useful.
Everybody advises this, and here’s why. You’ll feel good about donating to help others. You’ll have more money and fewer things. Your uncluttered spaces and only useful items streamline your life. And a streamlined life means less stress.
I found forever homes for all the useful things.
The old adage of a “place for everything, and everything in its place,” isn’t just a command to be neat and perfect. For years I rebelled against neat and perfect. Until I realized that meant chaos was controlling me. So, in those three days last year, I designated a place for everything that I deemed useful. Keys in a basket in the entry, pens in a pen holder on my desk, pet food in a picnic basket in the cabinet, laundry stuff in the laundry area (seems obvious, right? Not to us global brained alt-taskers), and mail in three different baskets according to type and recipient. My glasses and phone have a place on my bedside table. There’s more, but you get the idea. Give everything a home.
Catch yourself when you back slide.
Nobody’s perfect. And some of us are far from it when it comes to organization. I can keep everything hung up in the closet until that inevitable day I am rapidly trying on four different outfits before going out. Then I return to a bed full of discarded outfits. You would think needing to sleep in that bed would mean I would hang the clothes up, right? Wrong. I pile them on top of the dirty clothes hamper. At some point, now it’s sooner rather than later, I get tired of digging through a pile for clothes, and hang them all up again. The trick is doing it sooner each time.
Repeat all of the above at least once a year.
It’s time for me to put that alt-tasking brain back to work. It’s been a little over a year, and sometimes I can’t find things again. Or I realize I’ve accumulated more stuff that needs to pass the usefulness test. Are all these kitty toys useful when they mostly play with each other and wadded up paper? Are the four, Stella Artois, gold rimmed, beer glasses that I got for free useful, when I don’t drink beer? And only one of my friends does?
I’ll let you know the fate of these and other useless items soon. In the meantime, you might also like the more Zen post I did about this subject.
Previously published on medium
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