On this episode of the Plan Simple Meals Podcast, I’m really excited to talk with Deirdre Nesline, a personal organizer about the importance of clearing clutter and creating the space we want to help improve the rest of our year.
One of the big ideas Deirdre shared was the idea of thinking of decluttering as a lifestyle, not a task or series of tasks. you think about it as a lifestyle. Like it or not, it is something that’s ongoing. There are times when task oriented decluttering makes sense, like when you are moving, but mostly, and what we focus on in this episode, is a decluttering lifestyle.
Deirdre talks about clutter blindness—how we drop stuff on say the kitchen counter or table instead of putting it where it belongs. That creates stress and builds a habit that creates more clutter. If instead we build new habits, we start to decrease clutter regularly.
Deirdre shares tons of tips about clearing places that are already cluttered and setting up new habits to make decluttering more of a lifestyle than a task we dread. And she points out that things usually take less time than we think—we waste a lot of time and energy thinking about doing them.
We talk about:
- Getting into the habit of putting things where they belong throughout the day
- Starting with a piece of a task that feels overwhelming, like taking just the lights off the tree
- Tips for clearing your desk (and keeping it clear) like cutting back on mail by using Direct Mail and cancelling catalogs, and using a filing system to give papers you need to deal with a place
- Using index cards with tasks you need to get done by a deadline at a glance
- Getting rid of excess or unhealthy kitchen tools
- Letting go of guilt of getting rid of expired food and decreasing food waste by organizing cabinets (all of the same food together) and meal planning from your pantry
- How decreasing clutter saves time and money
- Choosing a few meaningful items from somebody who has died and letting go of the rest
- Teaching your kids how to let go of things they no longer want and need (and how this can be harder in practice than theory)
- Doing a clutter walk through with a friend
- Five minute, focused declutter sessions (work up to 15 min)
Deirdre Nesline is a personal organizer in Connecticut, Florida and online. She assists people & their families who struggle with where to start and complete de-cluttering their homes so they can de-stress and enjoy a full life without extra burdens. She helps people who are ready to take control of their lives and develops solid systems which allow them to step away from items & stresses that no longer serve their new DeCluttered life.
- What to do with your papers tool
- Direct Marketing to decrease junk mail
- Podcast with Angela Litzinger on prepping food
Doable Changes from this episode:
- DO A CLUTTER WALKTHROUGH. Have a friend over (you can do the same for her) and just walk through your house. Ask her to point out clutter in a non-judgmental way. She can ask questions like Why do you have that there? or Why is the mail piled up on the counter? This helps you see areas where clutter has built up that you might not even see anymore. It can also help you see where your organization may not make sense.
- TAKE ONE STEP. Pick a big task that you’ve been dreading. Then just take one step toward making it happen. Need to clear off your desk? Just take all the empty water glasses and coffee cups next time you walk by. Then put all the loose pens in your pen holder. Put your client files in the file cabinet. Pull up the recycling bin and start going through papers.
- SET A TIMER. Set an egg timer or the timer on your phone and work for 5 minutes. Once you get good at that, up it to 10 or 15 minutes. Focus on one 3-foot section—one end of your kitchen table, a section of counter, one shelf in the pantry, the pile of shoes by the door … just work on that. Do one every day or set aside a few 5–15 blocks throughout the day and focus declutter.