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Cut Your Clutter Calories!

Cut Your Clutter Calories!
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    As Professional Organizers, we talk often with our clients about how getting organized is a lot like losing weight, since they both require a program of prevention, reduction, and maintenance. Preventing clutter from being created is the first step toward reducing your organizational “weight gain.” Here are a few tips to help you cut those clutter calories:

    Control your “clutter cravings.”
    People often seem to have an appetite for purchasing certain things, but just like food cravings, you really can overcome your urge to collect. Get comfortable with the concept of “enough.” Avoid the places that encourage your particular collecting behavior, and if you must go, have a targeted approach to something you’ve planned ahead to buy. You may even need to bring a friend to “talk you down.” Here are some examples of places that are the clutter-calorie equivalent of going to Krispy Kreme:

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    • Garage sales
    • Flea markets
    • Souvenir shops
    • Discount stores
    • Used bookstores
    • Shoe stores

    Deal with things as they come.
    Mail, dishes, and laundry are continuous sources of clutter. You can probably think of a few more examples of “continuous clutter” yourself. These processes are not going to stop, and accepting that is the first step in dealing with the problem. To battle clutter, you must have systems and routines for dealing with it, usually on a daily basis.

    Stop extra postal mail, unsolicited phone calls, and junk e-mails.
    Junk communications are clutter too, and they cost you time and energy. Do not provide your personal contact information without asking yourself if it’s really necessary, and always be clear on the privacy policies of the company that is receiving this information. When telemarketers call, have a response ready to end the call quickly, and always make sure you ask to be removed from their list.

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    Plan before you buy.
    People create a lot of clutter by simply buying the wrong thing and not returning it. Take measurements, bring color swatches, and know sizes and quantities before you go out. Also, make a list of exactly what you need before you shop. Planning your purchases will help you save money, too!

    Think before you buy.
    When you are about to buy something impulsively, ask yourself these crucial purchasing questions:

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    • Who can I borrow this from or share this with?
    • What do I already have that is like this item?
    • Where will I store this item?
    • When will I have time to use it and maintain it?
    • Why do I need this item?

    Don’t always accept freebies.
    What a nifty glow-in-the-dark golf visor! But after the novelty wears off, what is going to happen to it? Don’t take home everything you are offered from a party, a trade show or a conference, and don’t bring home hotel soaps, samples, or other things you won’t use.

    Ask for the gifts you want.
    It doesn’t always come up, but if it does, be ready to tell people some great gift ideas for you. Otherwise you risk getting things you don’t want and won’t use, which means clutter! Try MyRegistry.com to make a universal wish list for yourself for every occasion.

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    Like dieters always say, “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” Preventing the clutter from entering your home in the first place means that you’ll have less of it to “work off” later!

    Lorie Marrero is a Professional Organizer and creator of The Clutter Diet, an innovative, affordable online program for home organization. Lorie’s site helps members lose “Clutter-Pounds” from their home by providing online access to her team of organizers. Lorie writes something useful, funny, interesting, and/or insanely practical every few days or so in the Clutter Diet Blog. She lives in Austin, TX, where her company has provided hands-on organizing services to clients since 2000.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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