Create a Clean Slate
I love decorating for Christmas—it’s so fun to give my home a festive atmosphere. But this year I noticed that I got equally excited when I put away the decorations. With the cool winter light streaming in through the windows, my house looked lighter and more spacious. I felt like I was starting the year with a clean slate.
And then I immediately started to fill those clear spaces with a flurry of ideas for ways to reorganize, redecorate, and reinvigorate my life.
“Wait a minute,” I told myself. “You’ve just worked to put things away and clear some space. Live with it. Enjoy it. Don’t go filling it right away!”
I realized I was charging ahead in the same way a lot of my clients do with their organizing projects. They get excited to buy sleek new bins and containers before they’ve even figured out what they’ll put in the bins and how they want to use the space.
A CLEAN SPACE
When my daughter Polly was about 7 years old, her room needed a major reset. It was overflowing with stuff, so I grabbed some XL trash bags and she and I filled them with EVERY book, toy, stuffed animal, and art supply that we could find in her room. After dragging the bags into the spare room, all that was left was her bed, an empty desk, and her bureau of clothes.
She walked back into her room and took a look around. Then she sat on the floor and declared, “I love how big my room looks! I want to keep it this way.”
She was in no rush to start putting things back and setting it up again. She liked the spacious, free feeling of her clear space. Naturally, after about a week she started going through the bags and getting out the things she wanted to put back into her room. But that week of living with her room as a clean slate gave her time to
This pause is the middle step that happens in every successful organizing project. It’s when, after sorting through all the items in the space and paring down the excess, I say to my client, “Let’s take a minute to look and think.”
We look at the space and notice how much space is in each area. Then we think about what needs to go back into the space, what needs to go elsewhere in the house, how the space will be used, what types of containers are needed, and what arrangement will work best.
Use this as a lesson before rushing into any new idea. Take a break—whether that’s a minute, a week, or a month—and rest in the still, clear space. The emptiness will allow your mind to wander: reflect, envision, and test new ideas. Then you can proceed with energy and confidence!
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