How to make decisions about your stuff when you hate to make decisions
As some of you may know I absolutely hate making decisions. Yep it’s true, decisions stress me out and as a mom and wife you know how many decisions need to be made day by day. It just gets to be too much sometimes. What school to send your child to, what to feed the kids day after day, what to wear, where to go, what to blog about, what friends to visit, what to keep, what to give away, what color hair dye to buy, which movies to watch…blah blah blah. You know what I’m talking about. I am just not that person if someone asks me to decide something I’ll immediately be able to do it. Hence the reason it is taking me so long to decide on our winners for the organizing challenge. Sheesh! Sometimes it just borders on ridiculous as well. For instance, my friend just called to invite me out for lunch and between the two of us we couldn’t decide where to go. She ended up having to ask her hubby for help :)
Last week on one of my giveaway posts I shared how long it took me to pick out a paint color for our bedroom. Seriously it took way too long because I just couldn’t decide. Silly old paint. Would it really have been the end of the world if I picked the wrong color? Well no not really but also yes because in my old house I did pick a wrong color of paint for our bedroom, a hideous bright gold color in fact. It was awful but because I am way too lazy there was no way I was painting the entire room again. So I lived with it and hated it every single day. Not a great way to create a relaxing sanctuary and a decision I regretted until the day we moved. I should have just repainted but I couldn’t take the pressure of having to pick another color. So once you know there are consequences for your choices it makes making decisions that much harder.
Many of you chimed in with the decisions that are hardest for you to make. It was so nice to know that I am not alone in that let me tell you. Here are just a few examples:
I have trouble deciding where to start- the clutter seems overwhelming!
I have a hard time deciding what kids papers to keep, and what to toss.
I always have a hard time making decisions about everything. My big one is deciding what stuff (junk!) to keep and what to give away, its so hard to give away a lifetime of memories!
My hardest thing is trying to figure out what to do with all the crap in the “junk drawer.” I know I should probably throw most of it out but, I fall into….we might need it someday trap. :)
I always have trouble making decision on what things to buy to organize. I research and research until I cannot research no more.
The biggest thing I keep debating on is going entirely paperless with my to do list. I go back and forth between hand writing it and using an app on my iPhone… I just can’t decide!!!
See what I mean, decisions are hard!
So how do I stay organized when we all know that decision making is at the crux of living an organized life?
Clutter = procrastinated decisions
Ahh good question right? There are tactics I put into place to help me alleviate the decision making process as much as possible. Yep I bypass it altogether and the decision gets made for me. It’s the only way I can function with the constant chaos and clutter that comes with raising kids and running a household. I reduce the number of decisions I have to make and boy what a difference it makes!
1. Use containers to give visual cues to act
Like with my filing, I use a basket to determine for me when it’s time to file. I don’t decide, my basket decides for me. I use bins to decide for me how much to keep of something so I know when the bin is full something must be tossed. The bin determines for me when it’s time to act. There is no waffling between well should I or shouldn’t I, the decision is made when the bin is full.
2. Assign “expiration” dates
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to throw out a bottle of salad dressing way past its prime or even a bottle of expired medication? Expiration dates on products make the decision for us whether or not to keep something. What a relief it can be! But what about products that don’t have expiration dates? I make my own! I have a one year rule in my house that if something hasn’t been used in a one year period it has to go. One year means I cover every season so when it comes to making the tough decision about my stuff, the decision is made for me. See the pattern developing here. I don’t have to think about it. One year not used = toss. Whew, that was easy! Enforce your own expiration dates and take some pressure off yourself.
3. Start small
Sometimes starting off with big organizing decisions can be daunting so think about starting with small decisions first and then work your way up to the bigger ones. In other words don’t let what to do with your Gramma’s china be the first thing you deal with. Instead decide what to do with the 500 envelopes taking up residence in your office drawer. In my experience working with clients I notice that it takes awhile for them to warm up to the idea of dealing with their clutter. They start off very attached to their stuff and in the process of making itty bitty decisions they build the confidence to go bigger and bigger especially once they taste the freedom that de-cluttering brings. It’s so fun seeing their confidence grow and the a-ha moment kick in. Once this happens there is no stopping them. That’s why you’ll often see organizers on TV shows like Consumed do a speed purge to begin with to get those purging muscles revving.
4. Practice, practice, practice
I can’t stress this one enough. Like anything if you only do it sporadically you’ll never master it. Consistently practice making organizing decisions and over time it does get easier and easier to do I promise. Here is a great example of how walking through the de-clutter process by asking key questions helped me choose between two items which one to pass along to someone else. I do this frequently and it’s this process of really asking myself these thorough questions as I evaluate something has made it possible for me to honestly say I’ve never regretted a decision to part with something.
5. Ask a friend for their opinion
Friends see things that we might not and are coming from a viewpoint perhaps completely different than our own. This is helpful when we have alternate scenarios to choose from and can’t make up our minds on something. Whether it’s deciding if we should toss a sweater we’ve loved for perhaps far too long or the color of paint to choose for our walls, friends can be valuable resources. An honest friend that can gently say to me, why in the world would you ever keep that shirt, is a friend I want in my life forever. Just be careful not to ask too many friends for opinions at one time as you’ll only make things more complicated for yourself.
If you struggle with making decisions like I do, I hope you find these tips helpful. What would you add to the above list?