An excerpt from The Clutter Remedy: A Guide to Getting Organized for Those Who Love Their Stuff, by Marla Stone
December is dominated by the holiday season, which often involves lots of parties, visitors, travel, and special meals. Maintaining an organized home is a particular challenge this month, given all the pressure to decorate, buy presents, host gatherings, and cook. This is when having a fine-tuned storing system will help a great deal, since it makes it much easier to find all those special-occasion holiday items.
Family tradition calls for extravagant holiday displays, and if that’s what you enjoy and prefer, by all means pull out everything and go to town. However, when you feel overwhelmed, busy, or disorganized, I recommend keeping things simple. Unpack and put up only half of the holiday decorations you normally put up. String a portion of your lights and get a smaller tree. Put out only some of your special-occasion bowls, vases, and platters, along with only a few scented candles. I guarantee you will feel more rested, at ease, and enjoy the festivities.
People often resist this advice. With a heavy-hearted whine, they say they “do it for the kids.” However, if decorating induces a merry meltdown, reconsider this reasoning. Do kids enjoy watching their parents stress out about what tree to buy and where to put it, running around hunting for family heirloom ornaments while enforcing good cheer? No, they would rather have relaxed and communicative parents who are genuinely content.
Every time holiday decorations come out, go through them and declutter whatever does not make you feel jolly. Similarly, when each season’s décor comes out, evaluate decorations and donate or responsibly dispose of anything that has become tired, worn, frayed, or broken.
After the holiday season, many people struggle with the “New Year blues” due to excess sugar consumption, overdoing it, lack of sleep, and a lower-than-usual bank account. When this happens to you, putting your space back in order will help lift your energy level, and you will feel the contentment of getting back to “normal.” Do it at a pace that is comfortable without pushing yourself. As I say, “When you push, you fall.” And remember, “perpetual organization” doesn’t mean that clutter never appears again. It simply means that your space is organized and restored regularly in ways that allow it to be maintained easily.
Another thing about the new year is that it brings the process of self-evaluation. You will naturally look back on the previous year and consider successes and failures, and then you will look ahead, set goals, and seek to improve yourself with “New Year’s resolutions” and realizations. I recommend using the start of the year to return to the exercises in chapter 1. Get out a pen and reflect on your values and life goals; consider how you will organize your home and your life better to achieve what you want. Perpetual organization means being flexible and adapting your organizational strategies to support your desires. What is still working for you, and what isn’t anymore? What new things do you want to accomplish, and what changes will you make to get there? Focus on positive goals. Think about joining a charity, getting healthier, learning a language, engaging in more socializing, traveling to visit family, starting a business, or writing a book. Every year, creating an ideal lifestyle list enhances your life. This is a magical wish list. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Think large to create your own ideal lifestyle every year. You change every single moment, every single day, so keep thinking and writing about what you want out of life. Be the conductor of your life.
Marla Stone, MSW, is the owner of I-Deal-Lifestyle Inc., which provides decluttering, design, corporate training, and lifestyle coaching services. She is a former social worker and psychotherapist turned professional organizer who helps people live an ideal lifestyle by getting to the root of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental challenges. She lives in Orange County, California. More information at www.i-deal-lifestyle.com
Excerpted from the book The Clutter Remedy. Copyright © 2019 by Marla Stone. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.