Have you ever come back from an event, thrown your bag and assorted materials in a corner and hoped they'd somehow sort themselves out?
And do they eventually become like squatters - very hard to evict?
Part of the problem is that it's easier to shift a moving object than a stationary one. If we act immediately a task shows up we're working with the energy flow inherent within the task. This in turn generates higher energy, fast action and therefore takes less time.
Think of a car stopped at traffic lights as opposed to the car that hasn't quite stopped when the lights change. Who can get away faster?
If we have to go back to something it takes much more effort.
Procrastination becomes a familiar companion and tidiness becomes an unnecessarily hard and challenging chore.
(And if you're tempted to tell me that you work better in a muddle - I've heard it before and I don't believe you! In the 20 years I've been doing this work I've yet to find anyone who doesn't work more efficiently once they've followed my simple processes.)
The hardest part is the decision to act.
Next time, when you:
• Complete a task at work - put away tools and paperwork
• Return from a trip - unpack everything immediately.
• Empty that conference bag
• Make a decision about where you'll place things and DO it.
• Eat something or make a coffee - clean up after yourself.
And at home:
• Get out of bed - make it.
• Dress or undress - hang things up and put the dirty washing in the basket (or ready to go out the door next time you leave your bedroom).
• Arrive home with used sports gear - clean and store it ready for next time.
• Finish a task in the garage, workshop or garden - clean down and put away the tools.
• Come in from work or town with a bundle of items - groceries, post, accounts to pay, magazines to put away - whatever miscellany you typically bring home - put them straight away.
And here are some high-level mental tricks to help. If you're still tempted to head down the grey tunnel of 'slob-itis', whether it be in your office or in your home, try one of the following:
• See yourself coming back into this pristine space with nothing shouting 'You've still got to put me away.'
• Hear the congratulations of your dearly beloveds (or surprised work colleagues if it's a work situation).
• Feel your delight and joy as you connect with the freedom of no clutter.
• Think back to the last time you did put things away quickly. Remember your thoughts and feelings, the mental pictures and the sounds attached to that positive memory. Build them big in your memory and let the positive energy attached to that memory impel you forward into action NOW.
• What's clutter? Just something in the wrong place at the wrong time.
• Every piece of paper or equipment lying around is a symptom of a decision not made or an action not completed.
• Space and clutter strugglers just stop too soon - the job's not done until it's all put away. Just shift the finish line.
• Why make it hard when it could be easy - all for the sake of another two or three minutes?
• Capitalise on your existing momentum. Do it now!
And then - reward yourself. It might be as small as five minutes to sit and look at the view, take a walk outside, sit down for a few minutes with a relaxing book or magazine, talk on the phone to your best friend, have that chocolate you've hidden from yourself - whatever turns you on.
If you'd like more encouragement, check out my Close-Up interview late last year with Michael Holland on this exact topic.