Friday, January 26, 2007

Getting Started (Part 2)

Once you pick a Project, that is, you have selected an area of attack, you need to avoid setting off a Klutter Krisis, which can further impede your ability to get going. In this situation you have pysched yourself up, actually gotten together the items to be discarded, BUT, suddenly lose steam. The items either end up in the middle of the floor or in some other state of disarray.

All you've really done is shift or rearrange the original pile. To avoid this state of affairs, keep in mind this simple mantra!

  • Identify
  • Gather
  • and Remove

    You must have an exit strategy for your stuff, that is, the actual way in which you will "unconsume" your item(s). So, before you shift that pile, empty that draw, or clear that shelf, be sure to have a new home for it in mind.

    Advance planning will help you face the clutter head on, rather than giving in and avoiding it. A good exit strategy also creates permanently clear space! Unless you bring more stuff in, newly created space stays clear! This is incredibly self-reinforcing and should encourage you to keep up the good work.

    We are now ready to get down to business, and I will begin to talk about some of the specific solutions that I found to do just that.
  • Friday, January 19, 2007

    Getting Started (Part 1)

    So! You've finally come to the realization that it is time to take a stand against The Klutter! But how do you get started? How do you overcome that internal inclination to hoard?

    Before getting down to the nitty gritty of "unconsumption", I thought it would be useful to take a moment to talk about approaches for getting started, which can be a major stumbling block.

    The way I approached it was to slow down, get ahold of myself and take a moment to examine my stockpile. Rather than view it as an undifferentiated whole, I broke it down into discrete and indvidual de-cluttering projects.

    For example:

    • a single pile of books or magazines, not necessarily all the piles or the whole bookshelf
    • one particularly troublesome kitchen draw not necessarily all the kitchen draws or cabinets
    • just the medicine cabinet (or better yet, one shelf in the medicine cabinet!) not necessarily the entire bathroom

    You get the idea.

    Projects by definition (and for our purposes) should be self-contained. They should have a clear beginning, but more importantly, a clear END.

    By taking this approach, you can trick your Inner Packrat. The investment of time or effort for mini-projects is much less, and will seem less like a chore to be avoided at all costs. Also, by setting finite goals in advance, once completed, You Are Done, at least for the time being. Now, you can just walk away with a clear conscience and a real sense of accomplishment, which is self-reinforcing. If you feel motivated to do more, go with it, but anything else after that point is pure gravy!

    The point here is to break it down into manageable and less intimidating slices so you can get started in the first place. You do not need to attack the whole shebang in its entirety. Otherwise you will become overwhelmed and say to yourself "Hmm...maybe I'll do this later...." etc. etc.

    If you change your view of clearing clutter from being an Event to more of ongoing process or lifestyle change you will probably improve your ability to keep what you have under control as well as to rethink the acquisition of stuff to begin with.

    Next up: Getting Started (Part 2) - Avoid Setting off a Klutter Krisis!

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    What, Yet Another Blog!?

    Welcome to twigg hugger!

    I started this blog for a number of reasons, one being that I recently completed graduate school (a most unusual and uncommon experience, but that's another tale for another blog) and I've finally got time to once again turn my attention to other interests and pursuits. I am also responding to Barbara Sher's Jolly 2007 Challenge, which is to pick a project for '07, something fun and enjoyable and to write about it.

    One such project is my personal quest to "unconsume"(see R. Walker's murketing blog for a definition of this concept), which actually began around September (not coincidentally, just about the time I finished school). Being somewhat of a packrat, my tiny little apartment was just overflowing with stuff! I knew I had to somehow figure out a way to get rid of this accumulation. However, as many of you fellow diehard packrats know, this can be terribly difficult to do, especially if it seems like its still good or useful stuff. What if you need it again? Or, better yet, maybe someone else could use it...? Therein lies the Packrat's Dilemma! It is very hard to get rid of stuff that is or might still be useful, either to oneself or somebody out there, now or in the future!

    But this time I was determined. I scoured the Internet for donation, reuse or exchange options. As in the past when I attempted this, I found that unconsumption/reuse is easier said than done. Mostly what I tended to find were articles with generic laundry lists of suggestions for what to do with stuff in theory, like "Don't toss those magazines out, donate them to a senior citizen's home or your local library!" but very few references to any individuals or organizations who were actually accepting such donations in practice. Organizations tend to have specific needs and wants that didn't necessarily include or overlap with one's need and desire to get rid of things.

    Nevertheless, I am nothing if not persistent, and slowly but surely, I began to find new homes for a variety of items, thus allowing this packrat to begin to stumble out of the clutter maze! If you are as serious a packrat as I am, this task may seem daunting, but as with any large task, if you break it down into a lot of tiny ones you'll gradually see results. And that's what this blog is mainly about. How an ordinary, regular person can take tiny steps towards divesting themselves of their clutter in both a personally satisfying and eco-friendly manner. Perhaps the idea of hugging a tree is overwhelming. So, just start off small and do it one twigg at a time, and you'll get there!

    In this blog, I will describe my journey to do just that. I will discuss not only the solutions I found, but the "customer" experience (another one of my interests) of doing so, because let's face it, the more difficult and/or unpleasant a task is, the more likely we are to procrastinate or avoid it altogether. And, as I stated previously, being eco-conscious can sometimes seem like something that takes too much effort, persistence and time. On the other hand, we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand about the consequences either (can you say melting polar ice caps...?) Hopefully as you read these pages you will come to see that it can be a more convenient habit.

    Finally, a special shout out to some fabulous and dynamic ladies I met earlier this week at an Idea Party. Along with the Jolly 2007 Challenge, meeting and talking with them also gave me the final push to galvanize myself to actually start the blog instead of just thinking about it!