How to Overcome Decision-Making Overwhelm and Make Clutter Clearing Easier

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decision-making overwhelm
As a professional organizer and clutter coach, I really believe that an uncluttered life is the best gift we can give ourselves. When we clear out the clutter we create space – physically, mentally and emotionally – for our dreams to come alive. Anything becomes possible when we can easily let go of the superfluous and give focus to what really matters. That kind of reality sounds great, right?

But (and you probably know this all too well) clutter clearing requires effort. The most energy draining part of the process is making decisions – with what to keep and what to toss being the most pressing. Every item requires contemplation. All that repeated decision making is exhausting, and the temptation to second guess ourselves exists at every turn.

Sometimes we even avoid making a choice because we’re afraid it will be the wrong one. We’ll actually spend energy thinking about what to do, go back forth in our minds trying to figure out the right course of action but never come to a definite conclusion. If you ask me, this one of the saddest ways to waste time.

And Bertrand Russell, the wise philosopher, would no doubt have agreed. Here’s a quote from him that absolutely nails it:

“Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile.”

So what should we do, accept the idea that clutter clearing has to be exhausting and frustrating? No, a hundred times no! We definitely don’t have to settle. What we need to do is act smarter. By that I mean we need to be strategic, we need to go into clutter clearing with a definite plan of action that will support us in the decision making process. And it’s actually much easier than it sounds; as a matter of fact it’s downright simple.

I’m talking about creating a decision-making policy. Why a policy? Because policies clarify what to do in any given situation, meaning you won’t have to think about and weigh the options. They save time, energy and effort by streamlining the process. That’s exactly the reason businesses have them, they know they would overwhelm their employees if they had decide everything on a case-by-case basis.

Here are some policy suggestions to get you started. You can adopt one of these or create your own. All that matters is that the policy has a clear pathway to a decision.

  • You can set a time limit for analyzing each item. I’d suggest a minute or less per item, then make the decision, even if that means you have to flip a coin.
  • You might create a policy that says anything that hasn’t been used in over a year needs to go, no questions asked.
  • Perhaps you designate a quantity limit for each type of item. Items above that threshold must be donated. For example, maybe you decide you’ll keep two sets of sheets per bed, or three bath towels per family member. Any number above that needs to be let go.
  • Maybe you decide on a holding limit for periodicals. You might be generous and decide after six months out they go. Or maybe you are little more rigid and once the new issue arrives, the old one hits the recycle bin.
  • You might decide to employ one of my favorite policies, the one-in-one-out policy. My closet has a set number of hangers, before a new item can claim a hanger an old item has to be bid adieu. Is it always easy to say good bye to something? No, but since this is my policy I’m prepared for the decision. And if I don’t want to make it, I don’t acquire something new. In any event, closet clutter has zero chance of taking hold.

Policies aren’t just for controlling the physical stuff. We can clutter our lives with too many commitments. You can create policies in this area as well. For example, you might decide that you’ll say no to any activity or invitation that requires you to give up weekend time with your family. Or maybe you create a policy where you only volunteer with one organization at a time.

The bottom line, you create policies to streamline the decision making process. What’s great about policies is that they can be used in any area of your life, think of them as a tool that will guide you to a satisfying outcome with far less effort.

So what policies will you create?

Check out the companion video on YouTube – Decluttering and the Decision Making Process: How To Make It Easier

kellyThis guest blog post was written by Kelly Jayne McCann, the Organizing Maven – a professional organizer and clutter coach who helps people get organized through her blog, tutorials and online courses. Check out her website for more information. Also, read more about her on the Organize-It Blog Interview with an Organizer.

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New Year’s Resolutions – Healthy Eating for 2017

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new year - healthy eating in

Eating and Exercising for Health in the New Year

Welcome to 2017. If you’re like a lot of people, you may have brought an extra couple of pounds with you into the new year. No need to beat yourself up over it. You aren’t alone. Lots of people are on the same boat, in fact. According to statisticbrain.com, 32.4 percent of U.S. resolutions are weight related. Whether or not you have recently put on weight, you may feel the need for a healthier lifestyle as you enter the new year. Feel free to add weight management and better health to your resolutions list.  I sure am – and I’m happy to share a few of my tips with you.

Exercise

Cardiovascular

Exercise is going to boost your metabolism. Whether you have a gym membership, take a spin class, or simply get on a walking/light exercise schedule, most experts agree that morning exercise is the best for boosting your metabolism. Even walking 20 minutes a day will help increase your metabolism as well as improve your heart function. Short on time? Incorporate a walk into your lunch break at work, or buy a small-profile stepper if your workplace has room to store it. There are a couple of gym memberships that are really affordable you can check out as well. Punching out for a quick workout is a good way to break up the day and increase your concentration during the afternoon hours, where it may start to wane after long hours of sitting.

Weight Training

Even moderate weight training several times a week replaces fat with lean muscle and helps increase your resting metabolism, which is highly desirable for weight loss. Whether you do it with a trainer, videos, or YouTube tutorials, weight training is a major component in regulating blood sugar, increasing metabolic processes and building strength in your muscles. Both cardio and weights are recommended for all around conditioning and also for managing glucose. Of course, if you have health problems, you should seek the advice of a professional but a good diet consists of two components – exercise and dieting – for optimal results.

Food Preparation

It’s a lot easier to manage your weight if you make your own food. It’s a fact. Fast-food and restaurants are generally super-caloric, high in fat and simply not geared towards health. And it’s difficult to control portions when the gigantic pile of American-sized food is plopped in front of your watering pie hole. The anecdote? Just make it yourself – and you’ll be glad you did.

Freezing food in measured portions is one idea, or simply preparing your meals for the week in standardized containers. If you take that whole dish of casserole to work, it’s just too tempting to have one more bite.

Portion Control

collapsible measuring cups


Regardless of the diet you use, portion control is cited as one of the most important aspects of dieting. Measuring and dividing your servings as you prepare your meals will help you resist the temptation to overeat. Collapsible measuring cups are a space-saving way to pre-pack your lunches and high-quality food storage containers like these ensure you limit the quantity of your lunches.

food storage containers


This mega-set has airtight, latched-lid containers in a variety of sizes to carry soups, stews, sandwiches and more, and they are freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe. This would be perfect for a weekend cooking mission, in which you could prepare your food a week or two in advance and refrigerate or freeze it for future use.

kitchen scale


Scales are also great for controlling portions, especially if you are doing a strict diet. I use one to weigh fish portions for the week when I’m being extra strict. This Polder digital scale weighs up to 11 pounds of food and has a slim design for super-efficient storage.

Metabolism Boosting Foods

fish steamer


Omega-3 Fatty Foods – including fish, flax seed and reduce inflammation and boost resistance to leptin hormones, which are a factor in fat burning. You can also get these from supplements. Recommended dosages range from 1000 to 2000 mg. per day. Fish is one of the few “meats” you can easily cook in the microwave (which you could even do at work). This fish steamer is inexpensive, at only 8.99, and you can throw in some asparagus or other vegetables for a quick healthy meal.

Tree nuts, lean proteins like cottage cheese, natural Greek yogurt, and spinach are other foods that help keep you in burn mode. Also, most bodybuilding sources recommend eating smaller meals throughout the day, which keeps your system burning (digestion, by itself burns calories). Follow up an intense workout with some healthy protein to add muscle while you’re still in burning mode.

Reduce Trans Fats

Probably one thing all the experts can agree on is that trans fats are bad. Trans fats cause inflammation and slow down the bodies’ ability to burn fat. Avoid the office donuts, fried foods, most fast foods, margarines, and well, um, you probably should start checking your food labels if you haven’t already. You’ll be surprised at what’s in a lot of the food you buy.

Eat Lots of Greens

Whether you like cooked greens or salads, greens are so low calorie, they’re practically a free food, provided you don’t add lots of fattening dressings and toppings to it. Here’s an idea, make your own low-calorie dressing using healthy ingredients. You can spare yourself the harmful preservatives and make it from your own fresh ingredients, including fresh fruits like orange (don’t go crazy) and healthy oils. Rice vinegar with only small amounts of oil is a great way to enjoy a salad without the fats. Use a sugar substitute to further reduce calories.

salad chopper


This OXO bowl makes quick work of salad making as you can chop the ingredients right in the bowl with the included rolling cutter. It has a 5.5-quart capacity and continuous curves for quick, smooth cutting.

Reduce Carbs like Pasta and Bread

Low-carb diets such as the Paleo are very popular and many people respond well to them.  There are several bread alternatives that I wrote about in an earlier post that give you a “sandwich-like” satisfaction without all the carbs.

spiralizer


Pasta lovers are turning to things like shirataki noodles to satisfy their cravings, but substituting vegetables for pasta is another really delicious alternative. This spiralizer is an easy way to make ribbons from zucchini, beets and other vegetables for use as low-carb pasta substitutes – or even for salads and garnishes. This is a great way to enjoy a pesto or other indulgent dish without the guilt and the calories.

Meal Planning

magnetic meal planner


Planning your meals ahead of time ensures you have what you need on hand for healthful cooking, meaning you’ll be less apt to binge or resort to eating out. Whether you use an app or paper, planning is going to help you monitor what you eat as well as give you a creative space to arrange meals that satisfy your need for variety as well as nutrition. This 55-sheet magnetic Meal Chef notepad gives you 55 weeks’ worth of meal planning, so you can schedule ahead as far as you need to. The magnetic back means you can hang it right on your refrigerator for convenience.

Whether you choose a Paleo or other diet, remember that your metabolism may acclimate to what you’re doing after a time. Also, there is no perfect diet for everyone. Listen to your body. If what you’re doing stops working, it might be time to switch up your diet, change your exercise routine, or do something different. If you have the means, consult a dietitian, an exercise physiologist, or some other health specialist for recommendations on what’s right for you.

Love, Clutter Control Freak


You might also enjoy our “getting organized – 2017 – making and keeping New Year’s resolutions” post on our Organize-It blog.

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