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Staying Out of the Haunted House

I love scary movies—especially those scenes where the people go into the dark and creepy house. We all know something REALLY bad is going to happen, but they go in anyway. What about you—is your house (or office) haunted? Just what do I mean by haunted? I mean filled with stacks of papers past. Crammed with copious crap. The kind of place you can’t find your way out of and there might be a cobweb or twelve. I’m about to help you switch on the lights and perform an exorcism!
1. Watch Hoarders on A & E. I am not kidding. I’m going to scare you straight. You see what has happened to some of those people and you’ll start cleaning immediately. It all started with just a little clutter…..

2. Put it on the calendar. Give me an hour to start with. If an hour freaks you out, give me 30 minutes. Block it out—protect it. And make it happen. For this first hour, I think we should pick the area that will have the biggest impact on your goals. For me, it’s my office. My messy desk is not a sign of genius. (Madness maybe, not genius.) Maybe it’s your closet or your kitchen or your garage. Maybe it’s your e-mail inbox. You pick the place that’s the scariest. You’d be surprised at what you can achieve in an hour of uninterrupted organizing.

3. Keep at it—scheduling an hour and another hour and another hour until the clutter is gone. Reward yourself along the way—if you get your e-mail under 100 (maybe under 10 for some of you and under 1,000 for others, it’s all relative)—buy yourself your favorite candy bar. Or a new car—whatever you can afford and makes you happy. And won’t result in more clutter!

4. Stop the inflow. Get off the mailing lists, unsubscribe from the e-mail, sort mail over the garbage can, enforce the one in, one out rule. (Buy a new pair of shoes, an old pair must go. Can apply to anything. Apply it to your weaknesses. You know what they are.) Delete e-mail as soon as possible.

5. Realize you are probably delusional. I know I am—I seem to think that someday I am going to file the stack of articles I have in my inbox. I also think I can know and read everything on a wide variety of topics. Some of you think you are going to get back into those jeans you were wearing in high school. Maybe you think someday you’re going to have a big party and use that punchbowl. Please. I see a little of myself in those hoarder people. I may need my own exorcism. Bring the holy hand sanitizer.

6. Let the past be your guide—if you haven’t worn it in a year, used it in a year, read it in a year (and the law ain’t making you keep it), throw it away. If a year scares you, say two years. If two years scares you, slap yourself and throw that crap away! (You wimps can always box it up, date it and if you haven’t touched the box in three years, for God’s sake trash it!). Watch Hoarders again.

7. Think of the consequences. Do you really want to be the crazy cat lady? Isn’t it embarrassing when you can’t find things? It’s not Alzheimer’s—it’s disorganization! If you can read this tiny type you’re not THAT old! Clutter causes stress and the last thing any of us need is more stress.

8. Want me to really scare you? Consider just throwing it all away (or deleting it all). I bet you’ll never even know it’s gone. Boo!

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