Tips for Helping You Declutter Your Room of Shame

There’s a fun game of cognitive dissonance many of us play when it comes to messes in our apartment. For me, it’s something of an object permanence issue: As a child, I briefly believed that I turned invisible when I closed my eyes, and as an adult, I tend to treat rooms I’m not looking at as a problem for Future Michelle.

Young woman laying in a pile of clothing and shoesYoung woman laying in a pile of clothing and shoes

Take, for example, the spare bedroom in my first apartment. It was going to become an office “once I got around to it,” but in the meantime, I used it as storage – where “storage” translates roughly to “place I put random junk.” This seemed like a sustainable model for maybe a month. I admitted it was a problem at three months, at which point I closed the door and resolved to “dedicate a weekend to it.”

I pretty much ignored the room for the remainder of my lease, thinking of it only when I pushed the door open to toss in some other item for which I had no real use. Each visit back into my spare bedroom filled me with an increasing sense of dread, slightly hampered by a noncommittal promise to myself to declutter it as soon as I could.

Now I live in a much smaller apartment, and every time I agonize over my lack of space, I mentally kick myself for not taking advantage of what I once had. For those who are currently living with a room of shame, there is hope – here’s some advice for getting to the other side of your mess:

Step 1: Admit It

You can’t deal with a problem until you acknowledge it’s there. Maybe you’ve already done this, deep down in your heart, but you’ve been pretending things are fine: They’re not. Things have snuck up on you, and now the room is totally out of control. Admit that it’s time to take back your life.

Step 2: Call in Reinforcements

Even the strongest people can’t take on everything alone. Ask your closest (and least judgmental) friends to help you handle your disaster room. Depending on whether your mess has been in or out of sight, you may need to admit your problem to them as you have to yourself. There’s a good chance they’ll tell you it’s not that bad. They’re probably being polite, but you’ll feel better about it anyway.

If things have gotten completely out of hand, consider hiring a professional organizer. Not only will this person be able to help you declutter the room, but he or she will empower you to avoid clutter in the future.

Step 3: Plan Your Approach

Unless you have a ton of storage space somewhere that you’ve been ignoring in favor of your room of shame, the odds are good you’re going to be throwing a lot of stuff away. Come up with three piles – keep, donate, and toss – and get heartless with your junk. Unless something has serious sentimental value, get rid of it if you haven’t used or looked at it in the last year.

Figure out what you’re going to do with the things you keep. Maybe you already have some designated places for these items that you just haven’t been using. If not, you’ll need to figure out where everything goes – don’t fall into the “I’ll just stick it here” trap that got you into this mess in the first place.

Step 4: Do the Work

It’s easier said than done, I know. Clear a day or two out of your schedule and formally announce that these are the days you’re working. Take pictures of the disaster before you start to clean, and if you’re feeling particularly brave post them online. Adding a caption, “After pic to come,” will give you plenty of motivation to follow through.

You may need to block out additional slots of time after the Big Day to do a finer sorting of your items. For example, you might find a place to put all your random documents and letters when you’re cleaning, but you should also spend some time actually organizing the papers themselves. That said, feel free to post your “after” picture once the room looks great.

Step 5: Bask

Once you’re all done, bask in the glory of your own achievements. Smile at all the comments your friends and family left on your after pic. Invite people over and experience the pure joy of hearing, “Wow, your apartment is so well-organized! I wish mine looked like this.” Sit alone in your apartment and marvel at how much space you suddenly have. This is your time. Enjoy it.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

It's Time for a Spring Cleaning of Your Mind

After a long, hard year, your mental closet’s looking pretty cluttered. Give your professional life a much-needed reset with this four-step spring cleaning to clear your mind of unnecessary stuff and make way for the things that bring you success.

By

Rachel Cooke
April 12, 2021

Team Renewal session here.

Ready to spring clean your mind? Awesome. Let’s do this!

Set yourself up for success

This exercise can deliver a little value or a ton. If you’re here for a ton, then let’s start by setting you up for maximum success.

A great setup means focusing on three key factors: 

  1. Mindset. Look at this as that opportunity for renewal. Not only is it a chance to let go of anything that isn’t functioning anymore, it’s also an opportunity to dial up the things that are working. The process should feel like a gift, not a chore. Tell yourself this until you believe it.
     
  2. Time. Give yourself time to be reflective. You don’t want to race though this exercise. It should feel thoughtful and intentional. I typically set aside two to three hours, sometimes in a single block, or sometimes in smaller chunks. Whatever works for you is great.
     
  3. Space. Try to clear a space in which you’re unlikely to be distracted. Move physical clutter and ask anyone (big or little) who shares your space to steer clear of you. This isn’t a meditation retreat. Nothing has to be perfect. But try to separate yourself from “real life” as much as you can. 

Now you’re ready. So let’s get you renewed.

Run your renewal

The process I use, both for myself and with my clients, is comprised of four components.

1. Celebrate (and clear out) the past

A great renewal begins with a letting go of what’s non longer serving us. It gives us a clean slate. But letting go can be hard. So I’ve borrowed an insight from Marie Kondo.

A few years ago her “magical” KonMari method of home organizing took the world by storm. And one of the unique tenets of her method is the idea of honoring the past, expressing gratitude for what has served us.

In this HuffPo interview, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Yuko Hanakawa, explains that “By treating your items with respect, kindness and gratitude, you are enhancing the spirit of the given item. … From that perspective…you are respecting the spirit of the items that you’re letting go of with gratitude, instead of getting rid of them with negativity or force.”

I’ve adapted this concept into my own process. This spring renewal process is about, in part, letting go of things no longer serving us. Instead of items we express gratitude to the projects, practices, and habits that helped us get to where we are but are no longer serving a purpose.

So, honor what’s served you previously—find a way to express gratitude for it getting you thiss far. And then find a way to let it go.

For me, in past years, I’ve celebrated but let go of:

  • Working with an amazing coach who had supported me … but who I’d outgrown
  • Reading every how-to book on starting a business … because mine was finally started
  • Offering free introductory sessions to new clients … which I no longer needed to do because I was succeeding

I was able to appreciate the value each of these had delivered for me. Then I thanked them for their service and let them go with grace.

2. Define your Secret Sauce

Now that you’ve cleared out space in your intellectual closest, the next step is to identify what makes you truly stand out.

You want to be clear and purposeful so you can choose a handful of things you really want to dial up.

For me, there’s a lot I can do. I’ve built training programs on various leadership topics and I’ve done it well. I’m a good teacher. But I’ve realized I’m an excellent facilitator. 

I don’t want to just be good; I want to shine. We all deserve to shine.

I can teach a team how to do a thing. But what I really love is facilitating the dialog that enables the team to decide the right thing for them and their organization.

Whether it’s about defining an operating model or determining how best to lead their teams through change, I love providing a framework and then facilitating the build of a powerful action plan.

This is an important insight for me. It helps me focus on which projects and clients to pursue, and which to refer to my amazing colleagues. 

I don’t want to just be good; I want to shine. We all deserve to shine.

So what about you? What do you do well, and what do you do that really knocks people over? Figure out a way to dial up the latter. What do you need more of in your life?

3. Identify detractors

Now let’s identify anything that distracts you from focusing on your secret sauce.

I’m not talking about the quick breaks you take to call a friend or watch a cat video. You deserve those. I’m talking about things you do as part of your workday that are inhibiting, not delivering, value.

Are you spending too many hours a week in meetings that don’t really require you? Managing a dashboard no one looks at? Do you talk too often to a colleague who is grumpy or cynical and might be bringing you down?

Think long and hard about where you’re spending your time and what activities may be keeping you off-purpose.

For me, as my business began to grow, I realized I was spending too much time on administrative work. I finally hired an accountant and am now on the hunt for a virtual assistant. Getting clear on what holds you back can really help inform your choices on how best to move forward.

4. Commit to habits and practices

Finally, it’s time to reflect on what you’ve learned, and to establish some new practices that will keep you on purpose and on track.

Maybe you commit to declining one meeting per week (to start) and see how it feels. Or you decide to repurpose your old “commute time” as listening-to-a-business-podcast time. Maybe you set aside some time each week to network, or an hour a day to walk. Or maybe you start and maintain a Bullet Journal to keep you focused.

This is not an exercise in goal-setting. Your focus should be on specific practices—things you can see (and satisfyingly check off!) once you’ve completed. them

There are no right or wrong answers, as long as you’re making choices with purpose and intention.

Here are some of the practices I’ve personally committed to over the years:

  1. I do quarterly check-ins with each member of my secret circle of mentors
  2. I send a relevant article per week to a past or current client. This keeps me top of mind while adding value for them
  3. I do monthly progress checks against my goals to determine where I’m on track and where I need to make change
  4. I do a weekly personal celebration by listing everything I accomplished that week that left me feeling proud. Celebrating myself keeps me motivated.

And there you have my four-step process for my intellectual spring cleaning. It leaves me refreshed and revived every time.

I hope you’ll take advantage and run your own.

Oh, and a little insider secret: mental spring cleaning works in any season. Any time you’re feeling the slog of overwhelm give this process a try. And let me know how it goes!