Organisational Expert is now a valid career option.


From The Herald Sun newspaper today, some EXCELLENT thoughts on keeping life simple and uncluttered. It includes some digital organising tips from me.

OMG Mouse mat

There’s a good reason why “organisation expert” is now a valid career option. As our lives become more complicated, increasing numbers of people are seeking help in paring back. Lindsay Faber has helped many Australians simplify their surroundings.

One in, one out: This is Faber’s unbreakable rule. If you can’t decide what item will be discarded, abort the purchase.

“Our physical spaces reflect our inner reality, so we are better off with fewer things that we love, rather than many pieces that we have no relationship with,” she says.

Faber advises people to be harshly practical. Ask yourself where you will store this new thing and whether it helps you fulfil your vision for your home and life.

Keep surfaces clear: This helps clear minds and ensures the items you have on display deserve their honoured place, Faber says.

In practical terms, it means making your bed in the morning, doing the dishes at night before bed, putting laundry in the basket as you take your clothes off and hanging up towels.

“Get the kids involved,” Faber says. “By teaching them these habits you create organised kids who understand the principles of order.”

Get, use, discard: Buy what you use and use what you buy. Have a strategy for what you bring into your home. For example, draw up meal plans and only buy what is on that list. “This saves you time, money and the stress of a fridge full of rotting food,” Faber says.

Don’t be an emotional hoarder: Of course sentimentality is lovely, but do you have to keep every scribble by your adored progeny? Distil your memories down to one treasured memento and keep it in a memory box or on display. We use 20 per cent of what we own 80 per cent of the time – the rest is just clutter.

You don’t have to be a minimalist: Some people prefer to live in homes filled with treasures. “The point is to have a vision, identify what you love most, identify its purpose and use what you have,” Faber says.

* By Lindsay Faber, getsorted.com.au

> YOUR MIND

Schedule regular “clear mind” moments: The average person has up to 50,000 thoughts every day. This ceaseless mind chatter is a common cause of stress and it can distract you from the important things in life.

“But rather than trying to push thoughts away, focus gently on what you are doing and let the chatter subside,” Pearse says. When eating, really taste your food. When walking, really observe your surroundings. When in conversation, really listen without internal comment. This will train your brain to be where you want it to be, not just darting around chasing its tail.

Go half throttle: At least three times every day, slow your actions down to half speed.

It could be while eating lunch, walking between meetings or having a conversation. As the body slows, you’ll notice your mind becomes clearer about what to do next.

Smell the roses: You will tend to feel calmer, clearer and more relaxed when in contact with nature. Spend 15 minutes a day taking a mental break by connecting to nature.

Clear your mind by noticing and appreciating the sights around you, the sounds, the sense of touch, taste and smell.

* By Susan Pearse, founder of Mind Gardener and co-author of Wired For Life: Retrain Your Brain And Thrive (Hay House)

> YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

Be the ruler of your digital filing: There’s nothing worse than being a slave to your email and trying to file everything that arrives.

Set up rules or filters to ensure your mail goes directly into specific mailboxes. For example, electronic bills or financial statements could be directed into a “money” folder. Star, flag or colour code important emails – you are better off keeping your focus on the emails that matter rather than the plethora that don’t.

Set app boundaries: How many do you really need? Decide that you only require 10, for example, and pledge to delete one before you acquire any new software. This means you will actually just use the 10 you have rather than adding to the collection and confusion.

Become digitally snap smart: Just because you shot a photo doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Maintenance is essential when it comes to managing photos. If they are not named or kept in some kind of order, you will find it near impossible to retrieve them without wasting hours searching. Download photos from your camera or phone regularly and label or sort them into folders immediately.

Don’t be a digital hoarder: “We use less than five per cent of our digital stuff,” Oliver says. “Think of the bookmarks, documents, apps, photos and songs you never use, look at or listen to.”

Her golden rule is always quality over quantity. If it’s information you seek, don’t hoard it. Use digital references. “Here in Australia, for example, our National Library has Trove, a repository of a squillion newspapers, journals and websites. You don’t need to keep it on your computer!”

* By Lissanne Oliver, author of Sorted! The Ultimate Guide To Organising Your Life – Once And For All (Hardie Grant)

> I never owned more than 100 items

Ex-hoarder Meng Koach is strict about keeping life clutter free

I was a hoarder back in New Zealand, but when I moved to Sydney two years ago, I challenged myself to shed my possessions down to 100 items.

Why have a vast amount of clothes when you only wear a few favourite outfits? I digitalised sentimental items such as birthday cards and photos, then binned them. Evaluate things – if it’s useful, keep it. If not, pass it on.

While I’m no longer forcing myself to stick to the 100 items rule, the process of culling has made me more conscious of the things I buy.

If I’m going to get something new, I tend to wait until my old things are worn out before replacing them, or I’ll do an exchange if I need to upgrade older models.

I try not to keep “back-ups” of anything, as I know I’ll almost never use them anyway. It means I always know what I have, and value the things I have. I’ve found that physical clutter is also mental baggage, and it feels good to live lightly.

I particularly love the owning-only-100-things strategy, but I would really struggle to do it. It would be insanely liberating though.  Imagine how nice it would be.  Could you?

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