Feeling Overwhelmed? Me?
I've recently been quite busy. I've been to several brilliant short courses over the last couple of weeks (but I haven't had time to implement the key learnings from them yet), I'm reading several interesting books at once which are supporting my work, giving me food for thought and further actions to take, I'm researching coaching skills as a work aid, I've got my ongoing work supporting and working along side my clients, then I've got my own life as well as a busy family life to juggle. Although I felt I had a lot on my plate, it all seemed fine and do-able but then horror of horrors! It came to my attention that I had tech issues with my website!
I didn't know how to fix this tech issue and seemed it to blow up out of all proportion and became a bit of a monster in my mind. It also somehow seemed to affect everything else going on in my life that day. I found it difficult to focus on one task at a time, I was unable to choose between my priorities, I was anxious that I wouldn't get everything done and I even had difficulty sleeping that night. When I woke up the next morning, I realised I was suffering from overwhelm.
Overwhelm is described as "too much for a person to deal with", or as "to defeat someone or something" And it is also associated with "strong or sudden feelings".
Well I certainly felt that I had too much to do, and I felt unequal to the task of fixing the website, you could say I felt "defeated". My mind felt cluttered up with tasks, I worried that by focusing on that one issue I'd take my eye off all the other plates that were spinning and for me the "strong and sudden feelings" associated with it were panic. How was I going to do everything and fix the glitch?
So in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, I had a little chat with myself. I listed out all my tasks in my mind, I chose one to prioritise and focus on and next I chose a path of action and scheduled a time to do it. The next morning my head was still a little fuzzy, but at least I was clear on what I was going to focus on.
I chose to work on the website glitch (which now didn't seem quite such a big monster). I was attending a working day with other business women and scheduled it as my first task of the day. Several people offered help and whilst I couldn't fix the problem immediately (this happened a few days later) I realised that facing up to the problem and asking for help had led me to discover lots of new wonderful things.
I ended the day feeling positive and like I had achieved something brilliant. I'd not necessarily ticked a million things off of my to do list, but I'd learnt new skills, made a new contact, felt supported and what's more I'd learnt something about myself. Allowing myself to feel vulnerable and panicky was ok, and reaching out and asking for help was a powerful tool for change.
My thoughts turned to my clients, and what emotions they face when dealing with their clutter. Time and time again, I hear the word overwhelmed when talking about clutter and life. So next week I'll be sharing my top tips for dealing with overwhelm in the face of physical clutter. See you then.
So that's it, January is over and we are officially one third of the way through Winter. I know a lot of people dislike this time of year, but for me it represents new beginnings and getting ready. And who could love preparing and getting ready more than a Professional Organiser?
January for me is about reflecting on the past year, setting intentions for the new year and taking those first few steps to realising them. But by the time it comes to February, I'm ready for action.
National Spring Cleaning Week
February is a great month to prepare for spring cleaning, (especially so with National Spring Cleaning Week taking place from 6-12 March). And if you are also planning a project like redecorating the spare room, clearing out the attic or transforming the basement into a hobby room, chances are you'll benefit if the space is empty first so that you don't waste hours just moving things around from one place to the next before you can start work. Spring cleaning will also be much less effort when there's less stuff to work around and when things are easier we are more likely to do them.
How to begin?
Decide on your why.
If you struggle with motivation this is probably the best thing you can do to get going. Visualise the outcome of what you want. So really spend some time considering what you will be able to do with the space you're about to create. The clearer the picture in the mind the easier it will be to keep going. Images have a super powerful effect on our minds so cut out magazine pictures, use Pinterest to find things you like, and use colours to bring your vision to life. Once you've clarified your vision it will start to become a reality, keep you focused and motivate you to continue.
Take a before picture.
There is nothing more satisfying that being about to see the results of your efforts, so take a before picture and refer back to it if you ever get stuck. And when you've finished you can feel proud of your achievements when can can see what it was originally like.
Allowing yourself to be interrupted can steal your precious time. So choose a time when you can crack on uninterrupted and if you're the sort of person that needs it, allow yourself some faffing time before hand by scheduling 15 or 20 minutes pottering before you begin.
Give yourself time - but not too much!
It look a while to accumulate all that stuff, so it's going to take a while to discard it. Give yourself a deadline to aim for. This will keep you focussed on the task in hand, and avoid putting it off or procrastinating too much.
It sounds obvious but when faced with something overwhelming or difficult human nature is to walk away - just taking small steps and not overthinking have powerful benefits.
Give yourself praise
Or a reward when you've accomplished your goals. This can be as small as a cup of tea and a biscuit after 45 mins or as big as a holiday when you've completed the whole task. It's your project - you choose, but be sure to acknowledge your achievements.
So this month, I challenge you to get stuck into some of those areas of the house that have been left untouched for a while. Or those where you've been shying away from a revamp. The very process of clearing space in your home can create space in your mind for inspiration to come in.
Are your kitchen cupboard overflowing, yet you struggle to throw a meal together from store cupboard staples? Maybe you can't see the wood for the trees - or the cumin for the coriander?
A good purge will help clear the decks and bring some clarity. Here are some ideas for quick wins in the pantry.
Anything out of date
It's pretty obvious but you may be surprised how many packets of herbs, spices and baking ingredients are lurking in the cupboards with a best before date that has long passed. Be ruthless, if it's passed it's best, it's probably lacking in flavour.
Include anything without labels as you won't know the use by date. Anything incased in rusty tins or damaged packaging are likely to be spoiled. Enough said.
Anything you don't use
We've all been lured into buying ingredients for a particular recipe, cooked the meal then never touched them again. If you're not planning to use the Japanese rice wine vinegar, dried barberries or tahini again in the near future, you can probably live with out them.
Anything not opened that you just don't seem to eat
That chutney Auntie Muriel got you last Christmas, the jar or wild boar pate you've been meaning to use up but just don't fancy it, or the box of chocolates you got for your birthday but you're thinking of giving up sugar. You don't have to eat these and you don't have the waste them either. Most supermarkets have a collection point for food banks and as long as it's in date, in good condition and not opened you can donate it.
Give it s go, you could be surprised how much space you get back.
It's January, the Christmas tree is down, normal routine has been restored and the you've made a news years resolution to start tackling the clutter. But where do you start?
It's not unusual to feel totally overwhelmed by the task in hand. We open a cupboard or drawer only to have our motivation zapped by the sight of it all and it's easy to wonder "how am I going to tackle it all?" I tend to think of beginning a decluttering journey in a similar way to starting an exercise regime, you need to warm up the muscles that may not have been used for a while and break down the big goal into small achievable tasks. They key here is to tackle the easy stuff first, see some instant results, gain momentum and of course the motivation to continue.
So here are my suggestions for some quick wins to help fire up those decluttering muscles this January.
It's amazing how many of the same thing we can actually have in our homes. But having more than we need is actually inefficient. We have to provide storage for the duplicates although we may not actually need them. We may become lazy about looking after the item if another one can be used instead and this can lead to losing said items and then having to search the house for it, costing us time and annoyance. So I urge you to purge.... wooden spoons, whisks, scissors, screwdrivers, pepper grinders, indeed anything that is taking up valuable space.
Out of dates
This is a really good one to start with because the decision to let go should be much easier for out of date items. There's less of an emotional tie and, after all, who really wanted to eat food that is past it's best or use cosmetics that may have gone off? For food items, think herbs and spices in the pantry, meat in the freezer, perishables and jars in the fridge, cans and bottles of drinks. You could also check dates on cosmetics, make up, toiletries and even household paints or cleaners.
Gifts you really didn't need (or want) this Christmas
Why not give yourself full permission to donate any unwanted gifts you've received this Christmas to charity. And do so totally guilt free. There's no need to worry you might offend someone, it was given as a gift and that means you have the right to do exactly as you want with the item. (Check out my blog on gifts of still unsure). It has served it purpose and if you donate it to a charity shop it can do more good by raising money and actually benefiting someone else. Also consider donating unwanted (but in date) food to a food bank. There's generally a collection point in most supermarkets these days.
Anything hanging around in plain sight that you no longer want
Simply run around the house with a bag or box and purge whatever your eye falls on that you no longer want or need. Set yourself a timer for 10 minutes, don't think too much about it, have fun and then simply drop the box or bag at the charity shop. Job done!
thanks to the hard work and generosity of the Fresh Spaces clients, we've raised over 1200 for charity