Many of us like to shop, but aside from the occasional trip to the mall, what happens when your spending gets out of control? I sometimes help my clients create healthier shopping habits by arming them with the tools needed to resist the urge to make purchases that they might regret later. Changing our perspective on shopping takes time and determination, and for most of us, some things are easier to resist than others. What one item or type of item still holds a strong grasp on your ability to make rational decisions? What makes you want to grab for your wallet regardless of cost or need, and how do you resist the urge to buy?
These 4 simple techniques might help save the day, and your money, when you feel a bout of binge shopping approaching:
If you still feel the urge to make a purchase after trying all these techniques, then it’s quite possible that the money might not be so haphazardly spent after all.
As I continue to work with clients and help them with their organizing challenges, I am seeing a high level of synergy between excessive clutter and depression. I see a vicious cycle occurring where the feeling of loss of control or depression leads to low motivation for household and lifestyle related chores, resulting in a buildup of clutter. This clutter then causes anxiety and fuels depression in a very vicious and unsettling cycle. It's one that is rarely broken without the intervention of another person, process or experience.
In one of her articles in Psychology Today, psychologist and writer Sherrie Bourg Carter perfectly captured the list of side effects stemming from clutter. “Why does mess lead to so much stress?
I know firsthand the negative effects of having too much clutter in your life. I also know the grounding sense of freedom that can be achieved in a clutter-free environment. Clearing out the clutter can literally change your perspective, attitude and motivation in an instant. Like magic, it will clear a pathway, both literally within your home and figuratively within every other aspect of your life. Seeing the positive changes in motion through the work I do with my client’s is what gets me up in the morning every day.
If you are living amidst a great deal of clutter and disorganization, you don’t have to remain hostage to your belongings. Call me, call another organizer or enlist a friend. Involve others and commit to “digging out.” The hard work of moving, sorting, arranging and letting go will be a small and temporary hurdle that, once accomplished, will lead to a new awakening of the inner you. Your anxiety, stress and feelings of depression will be greatly improved, and the air will feel lighter all around you. Come on, I dare you to give it a try!
Remember that old saying “it’s just like riding a bike”? I have no idea who coined it, but it was meant to draw a comparison to activities that were deeply rooted in the muscle memory gained from lots of practice. The idea was that, if you practiced enough, riding your bike would become like second nature. If you practiced enough, you could train your body to ride with a lot less thought or effort. And if that bike sat rusty in the garage for 10 years, because you had put forth the effort to practice years before, the idea was that you could jump back on and ride away into the sunset as if only mere seconds had passed since your last pedal session.
People ask me a lot about the best ways to stay organized. Cleaning up and out seems to be the easy part, but now that the house is beautiful and everything is put away in its place, how do we keep it this way? Depending on how far removed your new organizing behavior is from your old habits, staying organized is going to take the same vigor and endurance as it took to learn to ride that bike years ago.
For example, if you always lose your keys around the house, and we implement a new process to hang them on a hook by the door when you enter, you will need to make the conscious effort to actually do it…every time. It takes practice, and more practice until eventually hanging the keys on the hook becomes second nature and engrained in your muscle memory. Suddenly hanging the keys on the hook will feel like an easy routine, and the process will no longer be a strain on your brain power and intention as you arrive home tired from work each night. The thing to remember is that there will be work involved. I unfortunately can’t wave a magic wand to “cure” us of our poor organizing habits and replace them with ones that work better for our lives. If I could, I would be the first to wave it over my own house!
There are a lot of schools of thought out there around best practices for forming habits and the importance of considering things like learning styles, motivators and goals. Developing new habits to stay organized will take time, support and accountability from family and friends, as well as a focused desire from whoever is embarking on this mission. I have lots of tricks up my sleeve to help move this process along for each client, but the overarching theme to remember is that practice makes perfect. You are going to have to conjure up the focus, intention and willpower to practice, but once mastered, your new habits really will be just like riding a bike!
There’s a place that I have been driving by since I was a teenager. It lies about ¾ of the way between my house and my parents’. It’s a cute log cabin that must contain the same inhabitants because I still see things hanging from the posts at the entrance to their driveway that have been there since I was in high school. I have no idea how much longer they will be there, but on those posts hang ‘Wizard of Oz’ style tin can figurines. Someone in their household has been making the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion out of recycled tin cans since almost before I can remember.
As I drove home from a family get-together this weekend and once again passed these now-iconic figures, it got me thinking about re-purposing in general. Most of us as Americans have way too much stuff. We have a lot of options and a lot of freedom to decide how and where we use all this stuff. We all have things in the basement, garage and other storage locations that we keep for one reason or another and can’t quite bring ourselves to get rid of. These items may not serve us in our current lives and might be items that we haven’t even taken out into the daylight for a year or more.
What if we look at these items differently? What if we ignore mainstream advice, forego simply offloading them, and instead reinvent a purpose for them, just like this very creative Wizard of Oz fan has apparently done with tin cans for decades? Yes, maybe we are talking about tin cans and what others see as garbage, but what if we apply the same creativity to certain belongings? If we think outside of the box, we might be able to come up with an infinite number of cool ideas to re-use or re-purpose memorable items, while still maintaining a neat and organized home. Maybe we can turn Grandpa’s old wash basin into a shelf? Maybe we can flip Grandma’s ugly Chinese vase upside down, glue a tray to the top, and make a great pedestal to show off that favorite collection of succulents? The list and limits to our creativity are endless, and we alone hold the key to our own ideas.
Before you decide to reluctantly toss something that feels kind of important, think about re-purposing it instead. Maybe there is no use or way to re-purpose. Maybe you really don’t care enough. In that case, get rid of it! I am the last person to encourage you to hang on to things that you do not use or need! Otherwise, think about it, ask friends, surf Pinterest, or do whatever you do to get creative inspiration. A personal, deeply meaningful way to re-purpose something of importance brings far greater enjoyment than continuing to keep it “hidden” in that old musty box in the basement.
By this time, most of us are getting back into the full swing of life in this new year. We have cleaned the house and put away the Christmas decorations. We have set, and maybe already slipped in our resolutions. Now is the perfect time to revisit and set intentions for those resolutions that will help us to succeed and maintain momentum. Whether you resolve to lose 5 pounds, quit smoking or finally clean out the hallway closet, I have found that setting a clear path forward and revisiting those intentions every morning is critical to success.
What is an intention you ask? This part is simple. Think about what you most desire (remember those 5 pounds?) and build yourself a simple mantra that you can repeat out loud each morning, maybe while staring into the mirror if that’s your thing. Something like “I have the strength and discipline to shape my body into its best form and I will lose 5 pounds with ease and grace” might work. That part is personal and completely up to you. There is no wrong intention if the focus is on a positive outcome.
I personally write my intentions down and store them in a mason jar that I keep on my desk. This jar was a gift I received as part of a recent women’s retreat, and the process has proven to resonate best for me personally over time. I open the jar and pull out each piece of paper every morning, reading my individual intentions out loud. The process takes maybe 2 minutes but goes a long way towards helping me to get grounded and reset my focus for the day. Give this a try and I promise you won't be disappointed!
What are you keeping in your life that does not serve you or your space? Many of us hang onto belongings that clutter and complicate our lives. before really getting involved in the organizing industry, I had a lot of attachments to my stuff. I saved old concert ticket stubs because they were from my first concert. I saved jeans I loved but had not worn...ever...because I might fit into them one day. I saved gifts that I had received from family members that were not even my taste. When I started learning more about the psychology of organizing I realized that many of my own habits were hindering and further cluttering my life. If you are struggling with similar scenarios, you could be experiencing one of the following emotions:
Just like dealing with and overcoming a difficult event in our lives, letting go of stuff can sometimes be very challenging and feel much more complex than it actually is. Some things to keep in mind as you begin to manage and make decisions about your stuff are: