Believe it or not, Professional Organisers are not perfect!  We also have filing that piles up and spare rooms that become dumping grounds from time to time.  A few weeks back, I decided to tackle my in-tray in our study that had been piling up for quite a while. I began sorting the papers into piles that needed throwing away, filing, taking to my office, or passing on to someone else.  In the midst of this process, surrounded by piles of paper I suddenly had a feeling of being overwhelmed and not wanting to carry on!  It was a momentary feeling, but I realised that this is the point where often organising efforts can stop dead in their tracks.  It is important to keep calm, pushing through those  feelings  of being overwhelmed, and to carry on, in order to benefit from the order that results soon afterwards.  It wasn’t long and my papers were filed in the filing cabinet, the bin was filled and my office pile was taken off to be sorted there.

Getting easily overwhelmed is a common experience when we start tidying out a cupboard or room, or sorting the paperwork on our desks.  It is at that point when half the cupboard has been decanted and sorting is only part-way through that we can be tempted to give up, shove it back inside and close the door!  

Here are some tips to minimise these feelings and to be successful in your organising efforts:

1. Be realistic – Often our organising efforts start with great enthusiasm and we have lofty intentions of tidying out a room, for example, in a couple of hours.  We need to be realistic about how long the sorting and tidying process takes. It generally takes longer than we expect it to!

2. Start small – We have a greater chance of success if we start with a small space at a time (e.g. just the hanging space in your wardrobe) than tackling the whole room in one go.  A smaller space will be completed in a relatively quick time while our energy and enthusiasm levels are still high.

3. Choose a good time – Make sure that you embark on an organising session at a time of the day when you have sufficient energy and focus.  If you are tired or hungry, your enthusiasm and stamina is likely to wane very quickly, and you are certain to get overwhelmed and want to give up.

4. Take a break – A short break and refreshments will help to keep you going if your organising project is longer than 1½ hours.

5. Reduce interruptions – Let your family know what you are doing and that you will not be available for the time you have set aside.  Try to avoid the phone, but if you must take calls keep them brief and get back to work straight away to keep the momentum going.

6. Have fun – Put on some music you enjoy to keep you inspired!  Even ask a friend to join and help you if it will make the process more fun and successful.  Make sure it is someone who you can trust and who will not criticise you for what you decide to keep, throw or give away.

*Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion. The poster was rediscovered in 2000 and has generated a variety of clothing, houseware etc. Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Calm_and_Carry_On.

Vicky Sim is a professional organiser based in Durban, South Africa with a passion for helping her clients to transform their space and simplify their lives.

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