“Stuck” and “transitions”

These are words that resonate with me as I put the building blocks of my organizing business together. I hear coaches and therapists say that they work with people who are stuck, and I think “me too.”

People who find themselves stuck have usually slowed down gradually and allowed their environs to clutter, creating a feeling of slogging through wet cement. It’s a lot like opening windows on your computer over a couple of days and suddenly realizing that every program has slowed down. Everything is just harder to do until you reboot and start fresh.

Clutter and mess sap us of our productivity and creativity

We waste time looking for things that should be at our fingertips. We can even waste money, buying a new pair of black pants because we can’t find any of the four pairs we already have.

Clutter makes us feel anxious, helpless, overwhelmed…even guilty and ashamed as a number of psychological studies of stress and its depressive effects have confirmed.

Clutter is over-stimulating to our brain. A Princeton University study found this causes our senses to overload on unimportant input, taking attention away from our true focus. This should be obvious, but gets lost in our chaotic perception.

The stress of clutter is actually proven to cause harm

Dr. Rick Hansen, author of Hardwiring Happiness had this to share in a TED talk:
“Cortisol goes into the brain and stimulates the alarm center, the Amygdala. And kills neurons in the hippocampus which, besides doing visual/spatial memory, also calms down the amygdala and calms down stress altogether. So, this mental experience of stress, especially if it’s chronic and severe, gradually changes the structure of the brain. So we become aggressively more sensitive to stress. The mind can change the brain can change the mind.”

It’s a vicious cycle! We can’t relax because our brains see that our work is never done and we worry about how our work will never be done so we can’t relax….

What’s the solution? Therapy is always a wonderful adventure of self-discovery. If you want to do some easier work first, an organizer can offer a less-expensive sort of “home therapy.” This helps free your mind, physically and psychologically, so any other therapy you choose can be more effective.

It’s surprising how much can be accomplished in even 3 hours, whether it’s a closet, desk, playroom or any area of your home or office. I often find that what people need is just a partner to work with them and keep them accountable, which I’m happy to do. And we do it all in a NO-JUDGEMENT ZONE, so people don’t have to worry about letting someone in.

Project by project we can gradually get everything into four simple categories:
1. Useless stuff goes into the trash
2. Stuff useless to you but maybe useful to family or friends gets tagged and into boxes/bags
3. Stuff useless to you but maybe useful to someone who needs them into the donation box
4. Things to keep – we’ll find your best place for them

When we’re finished, your curated belongings are where you will intuitively look for them or use them, and your surfaces are clean, freeing you to think more clearly again. No longer stuck, your productivity can flow again.

Then there are life’s transitions, which can be exciting, growth inspiring, daunting and paralyzing.

New babies bring lots of new stuff into a home. I recently wrote a blog for RG Adoption Consulting celebrating National Adoption Awareness Month which suggests that parents get their baby closet set up with bins ready and full of clean clothes before the baby craziness arrives. When parents are ready for each new stage, the ease of transitioning into bigger and storing little clothes can be taken for granted, as few things can. Time with an organizer can be a great baby shower gift.

Weddings are transitions, even if you’ve already been sharing space. I think we’ve all felt different after the big day. We can’t explain exactly why, but we know weddings usually cause chaos. Setting aside time in advance of the wedding to get rid of the stuff that isn’t serving you both, and deciding on systems of organization that will keep household harmony is a valuable gift to your marriage. If you know you’ll need help, mention to family and friends that a few hours with an organizer should be on your registry.

A big transition like divorce brings upheaval on lots of levels. Whether you stay in your house or the process leads you to a new one, you’ll experience chaos on the road to clarity. You may keep your house with only half of your belongings, or set up in a new house elsewhere. Either way, your home will need to be sorted, keeping some things, letting some go. Consider an organizer’s help as self-care – keeping you on task as you sort and pack and even helping unpack and organizing you for what comes next. In the end, you’ll be ready for the adventure of your new home – and new growth.

Downsizing to a new home is freeing but where do you start when faced with a whole house full of memories and the stuff attached to them? How can you throw so many items away? Will the kids want some of it? What furniture and keepsakes should you keep to make your new home? Sorting, packing and unpacking – it’s really enough to paralyze you. Help from family and/or professionals can get you through it so don’t try to do it alone.

Any move is daunting, even without the additional stress of divorce. I’ve done lots of them and know what I’m talking about. It starts with getting your home ready to sell. Realtors will appreciate your efforts to sort through the house before it goes on the market. You can donate or discard what you don’t need and get keepsakes and personal items packed early for your move. This gets your home ready for staging so that potential buyers aren’t distracted by the memorabilia that makes the house YOUR home. With the clean surfaces and openness, they can more easily see it as somewhere they can make their OWN home.

Where to start? Whether stuck or facing transitions, you don’t have to do it alone! Ask for help. Bring in a pro to help dig out and ease life’s transitions. Through each project, we can help you refine your belongings to what’s truly important to you, letting go of the useless clutter, freeing you to move forward into that next stage of growth with excitement.

Content provided by Women Belong member Shery Hill