Monday, March 12, 2012

8 Ways to Dump Junk

Dear Maria

Help! I have piles everywhere! I don’t know why I can’t fix this, but I have junk in these stacks all over the place. And that doesn’t include my . Help!

Dear Chris-

You sound overwhelmed and I know the feeling. There is nothing like all that unfinished business lying around to turn us into nervous wrecks. And if you are anything like me, the more piles, the more inertia. So, here are some simple tools to help you get out from under.

1. What’s going on in your head?

First of all, please know that all of those piles are unfinished business. A million little tasks that have not been completed. They become an ARMY of INADEQUACY for you. They represent all you want to avoid, everything that gets the best of you, the stuff in your life you just don’t want to deal with. So, no wonder you shove more in the pile and avert your eyes.

2. Divide and conquer

The old saying goes, “divide and conquer” your enemy. The bigger your junk pile, the stronger your enemy. If you start to look at that pile as an enemy you can’t let strengthen itself, you can shift your perspective enough to know that you need to pick at it and reduce its strength.

3. The Inevitable

Here is the cold hard truth about junk. It keeps coming. Just like you have to make your bed every morning, the junk will keep coming every day. Receipts, mail, tacks, rubber bands… okay, maybe not rubber bands. There is no such thing as being junk or paperwork free. It is just a part of life. You don’t have to make your bed every day, but it sure feels good when you do. You don’t have to keep the junk under control, but it feels good when you do.

Chris, to recap so far, junk is a part of life, we are stuck with it. But, when we let it grow it becomes strong, like an enemy gathers strength in numbers. If we view junk not as something we need to avoid, but as an enemy we can’t let grow, we alter our perspective or view of the issue, and we may just alter our response.

4. Quadrant clean

Quadrant cleaning means pick one area to start. I personally would start small. Pick one junk drawer, one pile and ONLY work that area until it is done. Taking on too much puts you back in the same spot, with a lot of loose ends. So start by picking one spot.

5. Location, location, location

I always say half the battle is having a location for your junk. The recycling bin, the receipts box, the shoe basket. You name it. A place for everything. So, to start, take your one “quadrant” and make sure everything in the pile has a location. Frequently, there is no assigned spot or you would have already put it there. For the things that don’t have a home, MAKE ONE. Seriously, get your location ready and put the stuff there.

6. All Systems Go

Some of the junk pile will be systems related. You have to …gulp… file things. Yuck. This takes a bit of time and if you don’t have the right system for filing you are going to be stuck with the pile again. So, find your system for paperwork and there you go.

7. Time allotment

Everything that matters takes time. Schedule time for your junk management. Seriously, I don’t do enough of this because it is my LEAST favorite. I would rather clean a bathroom than organize junk and paperwork. But it does take time, so I have stopped fooling myself and I give myself time to get it done.

8. Attach me not

We are emotional beings. We can’t help it. We see something familiar and our limbic system lights up, all excited with emotional memory. The problem? We can buy into saving every little thing. You know what I mean. We pick up a ticket stub and suddenly we are at that concert. Our memory brings us there, not just in thought, but in emotion. That is powerful. But we need to learn to let go, we can’t keep every single ticket stub. Precious memories can turn on us and become an army of thought that leaves us under a pile we can no longer face. So, consider letting go of some of those stubs. Believe it or not, you still have the memories. They are there for you, even without the junk to remind you.

Good luck Chris, hope all this helps!


  1. AWESOME advice! It's so great to be able to take baby steps to become successful & not let "junk" rule our lives! Thanks for sharing! :o)