By Monika B. Jensen, Ph.D
Ready to start de-junking? Are you drowning in a sea of stuff? Are you frequently stressed because you cannot seem to stay organized, no matter how hard you try? Frustrated because you are always running behind in getting things done? Uncluttering, or as I like to think of it, de-junking, is not the same for every person. One person’s organization may be another person’s chaos. This blog will help you control your space, life, and junk, in your own way.
What is Junk?
I define junk as something that clutters up your life and interferes with your success, productivity and effectiveness. So what is valuable to one person, might be worthless to another. It all depends upon your behaviours and what makes you successful, in your definition of success. For example, my definition of success is feeling positive about yourself and being productive both professionally and personally. Take a second and identify how you define your success. Is there junk in the way of you reaching success? Remove it — De-junk it.
Now, we will begin to review the aspects of your personal life that contribute or block your path to success.
When you get your personal or professional life organized, you focus on things that are truly important to you. By doing this, you may observe the following benefits:
• a sense of control over your life
• less anxiety to start a project because it is easier to get things done
• less stress in your life
• more time for the things you want to do, and
• increased productivity.
How you de-junk and realize these benefits depends partially on how you process information.
Recognize that some people like a very structured lifestyle with every detail written down, so they have a sense of control over each day. Others are more comfortable in a less controlled environment and find this fluidity feeds their creative side. Figuring out how you thrive to organize yourself in a way that works for you is the key to de-junking.
Quick Quiz: Find out HOW you think.
First, there are no right or wrong answers. This tool will help you understand your natural tendencies.
Read the question on the left and the question on the right. Choose a place on the sliding scale in the middle that most closely reflects your first thoughts. The neutral space on the scale is between 1 and 4: you are neither one or the other. That outcome is highly unlikely.
For example, if you like to know what the best way is to do something, but are open to new ideas, you may choose 4 on the sliding scale, because you will skew to the concept that is considered the absolute best.
The higher the score, the more likely it is that you use the left side of your brain. Right brain people generally have a lower score.
If you scored 26-38, you equally access in processing information
If you scored between 9-25, you are right-brained
If you scored between 39-54, you are left-brained
Note: this is not your intelligence level but rather how you process information most of the time.
How does our brain work?
Left-brain people are usually: Right-brain people are generally:
Equal-access people generally have a combination of attributes from both lists and move easily from using one side of the brain to the other.
Choose your de-junking style based upon your thinking style.
You can use this information to help you de-junk your life more effectively. As you make changes, make the ones that fit your natural tendencies and build on your strengths.
Don’t try to use a detailed calendar if you’re predominately a right-brain person because this will frustrate you. If you’re primarily a left-brain person, you might feel like things are out of control without a detailed calendar.
The left-brain person usually likes neat, tidy, well-organized surroundings. Right-brain people are more likely to be surrounded by chaos – piles, boxes, and even bags of information – but they can generally find things in their mess.
An equal-access person can quickly move between the two categories, so they have more choices in de-junking their lives. Unfortunately, it may be harder for them to settle on the things that are really important to them. For instance, an equal-access person might like a very detailed calendar like a left-brain person, but he or she also might arrange a work space with more flair and change it more often like a right-brain person.
A word of caution: over-organizing your life may decrease joy in your life. Enjoy the time you have by planning the essential things and saying no to items that are not important.
10 Tips to start de-junking.
- Start gradually: You will begin to see how the positive effects of de-junking will have on you. You will want to do more.
- Have multiple calendars: Record significant activities and dates on a household calendar kept in a central location where it’s easy for everyone to see.
- Make appointments for important activities: Household chores – inside and outside – need appointments or regularly scheduled times.
- Use lists: Cleaning lists, grocery lists, and project lists help you stay on track.
- Keep supplies and tools together: Storing frequently used tools in movable containers make them easy to find and use.
- Strive for balance: Know what you want to achieve.
- Conquer procrastination: De-junking removes clutter from your life, organizing takes time and helps you keep and use items in your life. If you don’t know whether to junk or keep, hold the item separately and give yourself a deadline to make a decision by.
- Accept that different things have different values to you: Everything is not equally important. Leave the tyranny of perfectionism behind. You do not have to throw everything out.
- Schedule time for you: Take care of yourself – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
- Treat time as a precious gift: Use time wisely by making choices instead of reacting to situations as they occur.
For more information about organizing your life, please read our time management blog.